A selection of the best animation articles including news, opinions, and features from around the world for the week beginning the 29th of March, 2020.Read more
The revelation that the Powerpuff Girls have a sister is certainly surprising. Bliss adds a new dimension to the long-established franchise that arguably is nonetheless long in the tooth. Yet why did it happen now? What is the bigger meaning behind the move? And why is Bliss a product of circumstance?
This week saw the announcement of not one, but three reboots to popular old shows. The Powerpuff Girls are being trotted out again, ReBoot gets well, rebooted, and even the Three Stooges refuse to die with a new animated show in the works. It’s all too much for me to bear!
If the thirteen episodes mentioned in the title seems a bit short, just imagine how the Simpsons would be viewed today if the original order was all that was made. Would it still be viewed as a classic, or be relegated to a footnote of television history? Regardless of what would have happened 25 years ago, the future is pointing inexorably towards series runs of a predetermined length and story structure.
The Powerpuff Girls continues to exude an influence over American animation and beyond. Such a success was the original show, Cartoon Network brought it back for a one-off 10th anniversary special. Not being able to leave well enough alone, they’re dipping into the pot again with another, CGI special coming out in 2014. Undoubtedly popular and influential, the show also made pariahs out of certain fans.
I suppose we were the Bronies of our generation. After a few minutes you either got it or you didn’t – that alternately beneath or above the surface of innocuous kids’ fare there was something a lot more clever, sharp and self-aware going on. Little tells such as the passive-aggressive asides the show’s narrator (Tom Kenny) would make, or the blink-and-miss-them double entendres and obscene sleight-of-hand sight gags all cultivated a general sense that the folks behind what you were watching were up to something not nearly as innocent as the squeaky voices and bright colours would have you initially believe.
All these are qualities that the show has become famous for. However, fans of the show (when it was being broadcast) were expected to follow certain, well, expectations:
Such was the lament of all Powerpuff Girls fans who didn’t happen to be preadolescent and female. The world just didn’t understand, nor could they without giving it the hours of semi-drunken attention I’d had by that point.
Which in essence is the very issue the show has had to struggle with since it first began. Yes, it featured three female protagonists and was overly sugary, but it wasn’t overly girly. Not to use that term as a perjorative, rather I mean it didn’t conform to the usual notion that shows with girls and heavy dose of pink needed to be aimed at, or exclusively enjoyed by, girls.
The show garnered a large fanbase spread among all sectors of society, but ran into the problem that shows before (and since) have had to come to terms with: the show appears to be better suited to girls, therefore it is only suited to girls.
Fans of the show know the truth, but impressing that on others is a tough sell. Is ignorance to blame? Certainly in a partial capacity it is. Plenty of people form opinions on things they haven’t seen and form subconscious policies on them as a result. That means that if they think or believe that the Powerpuff Girls is a girly show, then they are much less likely to conclude that it isn’t, even if they’ve watched it. It’s not impossible, but the odds are high that they won’t.
The issue extends to fans themselves as well. Become known as a male fan of a supposedly female-oriented show, and opinions and biases are immediately applied to you.
It’s an unfortunate human nature, and it’s one that is hopefully starting to change in terms of animated content. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the subsequent Brony phenomenon (coincidentally another show that Lauren Faust worked on) has shown that there is the potential for fans to be more open about which shows they enjoy without having to justify it to a higher standard than previously.
Can you name any other examples of shows where fans could be unfairly stigmatised?
I’ll admit it, I enjoy the commentators on the A.V. Club simply because they exhibit a decent sense of humour as well as an above-average level of intellect for an internet community. When news broke yesterday of the new Powerpuff Girls CGI special was being made, things were made all the more interesting with the simultaneous realisation that superhero shows Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series were not announced as returning. Such news is not the purpose of this post however, instead, here is a selection of though-provoking comments from the article.
I blame bronies for this.
Not that bronies actually caused this, but the conspiracy that Cartoon Network is aiming to ape the success of My Little Pony with a show from 10 years ago is surprisingly strong.
See, I liked Powerpuff girls when they were on. It was a good show despite seeming like it was only for girls.
But I didn’t start a goddamn movement.
Which begs the question, if the Powerpuff Girls were launched today, would they garner a similar cross-demographic audience as MLP does? Would the fact that the internet is far more developed today than in 1998 be the key difference? My vote says yes.
Powerpuff Girls used to be the show 10 year old boys used to watch in secret out of fear of alienation from their peers.
..and brings up that whole topic of discussion. Boys loved the show yet were totally afraid to admit to watching it. Craig J. Clarks experience rates slightly better:
I had a couple friends that I watched it with (one of whom had to overcome his initial reluctance), but I didn’t exactly go around broadcasting my love for the show.
i remember when i accidentally let it slip that i watched sailor moon to some friends. i didn’t live that one down for a while
I was a boy in middle school, you damn well better not let on that you like anything the least bit girlly
So the question here isn’t so much that Sailor Moon appeals more to girls, but that genderisation deems it as the exclusive preserve of girls. What the hell is right with that situation? Who cares if a boy likes to watch Sailor Moon? The bigger question though, is why did middle school kids feel the need to “teach him a lesson” so to speak for liking the show he likes? Your comments are welcome.
I was working daycare, with four-year-olds, when PPG was still on the air. One day, I heard three of the little boys playing Powerpuff Girls. They weren’t playing any of the male characters, they were each one of the girls. They had no problem identifying themselves as Bubbles, Buttercup, or Blossom.
Now if we could just continue that all the way through to adulthood, DrFlimFlam is on the right track:
I try not to interfere with what my son likes because the rest of the world will try to do that for him. He likes My Little Pony and Spirited Away in equal measure and it makes me glad.
Goodness knows kids today are subject to enough external pressures, telling them what to like and what not to like.
Oh, great, cheap TV computer graphics. Because why not, fuck you, right?
If my recent post is anything to go by, he speaks the truth.
Do any of the above comments stir your emotions? Let us know with a comment!
A while back, I talked about the idea of the Re-Write (RW) Culture that’s discussed by Lawrence Lessig in his book, Remix. RW culture when it relates to animation is, for all intent and purposes, going to cover pretty much anything made by fans,
One of the most common things that fans like to make is fan fiction, where they take the characters and create new stories and tales for them. In some instances, like the ones we’re about to discuss, they go even further, and extrapolate them beyond where and when the show took place.
Via: Drunk Duck
The first is this, which sadly, remains in a state of limbo at the moment but is nonetheless a great example of a fan taking a show and creating something quite new. This is about the only thing I can post on it as its, uh, a bit mature for what I feel comfortable posting here (I mean, I get enough Google referrals from weirdos already).
Battery Powered is a well made comic that really plays on the idea that the PPG grew up at some point and basically entered adolescence and never really grew out of it. It takes the characters in a whole different direction from what we’re used to seeing.
Via: Grim Tales
The second example we’ll look at is Grim Tales. A similar concept to Battery Powered but in a very different vein. It’s a much more serious attempt to look at how characters would develop long after the time when a show is set.
It’s not a bad example, in fact, its one of the better ones out there. However, it does follow a lot of fan-fiction lines in that it takes the characters and augments them into situations that would probably not have happened in the universe of the show. A prime example of this the central tennant of the comic: Gim and Mandy get married and have kids.
Grim Tales is quite a long comic so fair play to the writers/artists who’ve kept it going this far.
Both comics are just a small sampling of what fans are capable of creating on their own free time that benefit the show in the long run by keeping it alive.