What Might Have Been
1 day ago
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
Archer is an animated, half-hour comedy set at the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS), a spy agency where espionage and global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other. The series features the voices of
H. Jon Benjamin as suave master spy "Sterling Archer," whose less-than-masculine code name is "Duchess"; Jessica Walter as his domineering mother and boss, "Malory"; Aisha Tyler as his ex-girlfriend, "Agent Lana Kane"; George Coe as his aging-but-loyal butler, "Woodhouse"; Chris Parnell as ISIS comptroller and Lana's new love interest, "Cyril Figgis"; and Judy Greer as Malory's lovesick secretary, "Cheryl."
For me it’s kind of a prism onto a world that existed before I was born really. My parents had their day pass from the 1964 World’s Fair in their little trinket box and my mother was into the Kennedy Assassination, so I’d learn about these things through my older brother and my parents. When you’re growing up in any decade, the previous decade’s shit is so lame and cruddy, because you’re surrounded by furniture your parents bought 15 years before and you’re thinking oh, that old crap—and then ten or 15 years later you’re thinking ‘I love that old crap!’ The way the seventies are awesome now but growing up in the eighties you hate the seventies and you hate brown cars, and now there’s something awesome about that. But I discovered Jonny Quest through my brother and at the time it was awesome because it looked like a comic book and I was really into comic books, and I wanted cartoons to look like that, a comic book come to life, so it struck a chord with me and stayed with me on that level. But as I grew older and became fascinated with the whole space race period of history it became a symbol of that and it was a genre that never really existed but was so convinced of itself it kind of willed itself into existence—it was this weird hybrid of adventure and sci fi and to some extent the kind of superhero world, so after I did the Tick I still had a lot of superhero crap in me and a lot of ancillary ideas and I realized this nonexistent genre was the perfect venue for all this crap I wanted to make jokes about. It was a wrapping up of all these things I was into—James Bond, Spider-Man, Kennedy era space race exuberance which is dead now, and that’s part of the theme of the show, the faded glory of a time when we looked forward to a goofier but more exciting future that never showed up.
An unstoppable collection of the most hardcore figures who ever strapped on chain mail and ran screaming into battle
Researcher rails against Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas the Tank Engine's TV show displays conservatism while underrepresenting women, a steamed Canadian researcher charges.
After analyzing 23 episodes of British series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, University of Alberta political scientist Shauna Wilton was able to identify themes which, she said, didn't seem constructive for youngsters.
"While the show conveys a number of positive political values such as tolerance, listening, communicating with others and contributing to the community, it also represents a conservative political ideology that punishes individual initiative, opposes critique and change, and relegates females to supportive roles," said Wilton, an assistant professor in the Department of Social Sciences at Augustana Campus.
"The female characters weren't necessarily portrayed any more negatively than the male characters or the male trains, but they did tend to play more secondary roles, and they're often portrayed as being bossy or know-it-alls."
The Thomas and Friends series is shown in 130 countries around the world. Wilton observed storylines in several episodes that divided the characters into different social classes and punished those who tried to gain individual power. "Any change is seen as disrupting the natural order of things," she said.
While Thomas and his fellow engine friends, including Percy and James, are at the bottom of the social hierarchy, the Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, is at the top of the heap.
She felt "uncomfortable" by how the steam engines are punished if they show initiative or try to change their rank or role. In one episode, after Thomas whistles impatiently at a police officer, he is punished by being replaced with a different engine.
As well, of 49 main characters listed in the show, only eight were female, reflecting a general trend among children's programming, Wilton said.
Parents, teachers and other experts such as political scientists would be wise to give children's shows a closer look, she added.
"We tend to think of children's TV shows as neutral and safe, but they still carry messages. Eventually these children will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now, partially influenced by shows like Thomas and Friends, are part of that process."
Wilton presented her research findings earlier this year at a conference of the Canadian Political Science Association. She was inspired to conduct the study after being concerned by what she saw when she viewed Thomas videos with her three-year-old daughter.
She did observe that the show portrays some positive values, such as tolerance of others, good communication and contributing to the community. And, she confessed, her daughter loves the show and its trains.
Laura Midgley, co-founder of Britain's Campaign Against Political Correctness, called the research "unbelievable nonsense."
"I cannot believe anyone has the time and energy to do such a study," she said. "I'm surprised she hasn't singled out the Fat Controller as an example of fattism, too.
"Children should just be left to enjoy the innocent fun of Thomas without the politically correct brigade stoking the fires and ruining their enjoyment."
"I'm only 43. Still a young man. Maybe a little frayed around the edges, but who wouldn't be between my work and raising two boys. Crap, who am I kidding, my looks are going down the toilet faster than an unwanted pregnancy on prom night. I was Rusty Venture, boy friggin' wonder. Now look at me."