Why Frederator Were Right To Pull The Mathematical Video

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes people make mistakes. which is apparently what happened over on the Adventure Time blog the other day. The show is well known for it’s growing and devoted fan-base that stems from the show’s top quality, it’s quirky and loveable characters, and, most importantly of all, the way the creators, network and studio crafted and actively encouraged the creation of a community around the show.

As part of this, Frederator began putting out two recap video of each episode, one solicited responses from fans, the other contained said responses as art, music, voice messages, etc. The long and the short of the latest video, is that it went out as usual and generated a lot of discussion on the internet before being withdrawn.

The result was that a lot of fans were upset for many reasons, but chief among them is that the felt that Frederator/CN/The Man was somehow censoring some aspect of the show.

This is patently false.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s almost a smack in the face, especially as plenty of it has continued even after an official explanation. Understandably though, emotions do seem to be running a bit high, especially given the subject matter.

However, there is an extremely valid reason that Fred touched on but did not go into detail on, and it’s the one and only reason the video was pulled.

Here’s why he was right to do so.

In a handy coincidence, I’m right in the middle of reading a book called Remix by Lawrence Lessig (of Creative Commons fame).

Remix by Lawrence Lessig coverIt’s a rather fascinating book that I’d encourage you all to read, you can even download it for free.

In it, Lessig discusses his theory of RO culture and RW culture. RO refers to Read-Only and RW refers to ReWrite. The difference is that the former allows the creator more control over what they create and how it’s consumed and the latter extends the right to anyone should they wish to ‘remix’ it into something new.

As far as RO culture goes, right now that means anything on TV, film and radio where the creators intend for it to be seen/read/heard exactly as they originally intended it. RW culture is pretty much everything outside of that that is primarily created by fans.

Adventure Time is a show in the RO tradition. It is meant to be watched the way that Pen Ward, the studio and network intended it to be. Fans are free to create whatever they wish, however that is all done outside of the official channels and is clearly labelled as such.

What the recent Mathematical video did was inadvertently insert part of the RW culture into an RO show. In other words, it took the context of the Princess Bubblegum/Marceline relationship and implied something that Pen Ward and his crew never intended to be the case. Their vision for the show was compromised and that puts things at odds with the goals of RO culture.

Therefore the video had to be pulled because otherwise it could have compromised how the characters and the show are meant to be viewed by the audience.

Fans are still free to imply whatever they wish because they are part of the RW side of things. They create many new and wonderful things but it is clear they are independent of the show. Frederator is part of the production team and they are obligated to follow the vision of the creators, whatever it is.

The decision has nothing, repeat, nothing to do with the nature of the relationship. That is completely irrelevant to the discussion and it isn’t fair to insinuate that the decision was made based on that and that alone.

Even if crew members engage in creating their take on the relationship, unless it is officially sanctioned, then they too are acting as part of the RW culture, in other words, they are acting outside of the RO culture of the show and their art can’t be seen as ‘official’.

Fred and the studio acted completely correctly in pulling the video because the longer it was left up, the more and more it would have compromised the original vision of the creator, Pen Ward and how he wanted everyone to see the characters.

Irregardless of the potential future developments in the show or its characters, pulling the video was the best decision given the circumstances and all the criticism that is being thrown about is completely unwarranted.

Do Cartoon Characters Work Their Way Into Your Life?

Via: Cartoon Brew

While reading Amid’s post about the upcoming exhibition of so-called street art at MOCA in Los Angeles, a thought occurred to me. Is there a reason why there is animation in it at all?

What I mean is that, why on earth would such street artists choose to use animated characters? As Amid points out, some have graduated to using their own characters, but the majority will use well known characters (from perhaps some big, evil corporation).

If you think about it, it seems somewhat obvious. We do seem to have a strong attachment to the cartoons and cartoon characters from our youth. Is it a subconscious yearning for the old days? I’m not sure (but feel free to post your theories in the comments below).

I would argue that characters do tend to work their way into your life as a child and they do tend to reside in the ol’ noggin for the rest of your life. They also represent a certain time that you may like to hold dear or perhaps you identified with the character as a youngster. For artists like the ones in the exhibition, cartoon characters can represent a whole host of things, either from their own personal lives or from their work. Either way, they seem to find artistic value in the characters far outside their original purpose.

What is clear is that cartoon characters pop up all over the place. I’ve seen plenty of 18 wheelers with a Tinkerbell sticker on them! I’ve also seen plenty of old folks wearing a Disney sweater or baseball cap. They are surely well outside the target demographic for such things, right? But is it really that surprising to see such things?

All of this is a sign of the relationship that animated characters form with ourselves. If you need any proof, just think about the last time you saw someone some Saved by the Bell merchandise. Such stuff is pretty hard to come by. Now compare it with all the Ren & Stimpy stuff out there. I think the answer speaks for itself.