Monday, December 11, 2006


A kid jumps into a pool but suddenly realizes he can’t swim. So he calls out to the bearded, robed lifeguard who, rather than jumping into the pool, miraculously splits the water into two. The astounded child, now sitting on the dry pool floor, realizes that he’s just witnessed a miracle and thanks the lifeguard, or “Jesus,” as the boy calls him, for saving his life. The disgruntled lifeguard informs the child that his name is “Moses, not Jesus” and then, as punishment, closes the water on top of the child causing him to drown.
This is comedy.

The disturbing anecdote I’ve just relayed does not involve real people but actually employs plastic action figures. And the clip is just one of the many hyper-violent animated skits you’ll find on the Cartoon Network’s Robot Chicken (the aforementioned was actually an exclusive web outtake available to all Internet savvy users, regardless of age). The fifteen-minute program, which airs on Sunday late nights during the Adult Swim programming block, is just one of the many shows that gives stoners an excuse to break out the good stuff. It is the ultimate culmination of juvenile humor, home to every fart, vomit, and sex joke you can imagine and, well, I’m a fan. I mean, where else can you watch Anne Frank portrayed by a plastic Hillary Duff?
That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

Recently, shows like Robot Chicken and the likeminded Assy McGee, Metalocalypse, and Frisky Dingo, among others, have turned rape and murder into the ultimate punchline. This obviously makes me somewhat uncomfortable. Just this past week on a repeat of the Seth Green-produced Chicken, you could see a parody of the old Snuggle fabric softener commercial in which a suburban man takes a fluffy, soft teddy bear into the bathroom and forces himself on it. Funny, right? A man violently raping a teddy bear? Or how about that skit from a few weeks ago where plastic children killed their plastic parents, or when other plastic children were mauled by plastic wild animals?

There's intelligent and subversive humor to be found elsewhere on Adult Swim—after all, there is a happy medium. Harvey Birdman, for example, is witty and smart without being bloodthirsty. Perfect Hair Forever was irreverent and stoner-friendly without condoning a weekly shower of guts. And when I look over the roster of past shows, I can't help consider that as both time progresses and Adult Swim gets older, there's a strong gravitation towards gratuitous violence. Granted the station was responsible enough to label their nightly programming block as "adult" right there in the title, but why does "adult" have to become synonymous with "tortuous pain"?

Perhaps this is the new culture. With the recent influx of hyper-violent movies like Black Christmas and Saw 4 on the way, maybe we’re truly becoming desensitized. Or is it that our constant exposure to war imagery is even seeping into our animated entertainment? But as we pass the bong along, we should ask ourselves if the lines between escapism and reality are blurring dangerously.

Ultimately, though, violence doesn't bother me as much as its use as a punchline does. A horror movie delivers gruesome death but we're prepared for it. That’s what we get in exchange for the price of admission. The juxtaposition of animation and violence, however, is jarring and disturbing instead of entertaining. Watching the progressive destruction of imagery that we generally associate with childhood and youth must somehow damage our fondest memories.

I don't know, Seth. You can tell me to lighten up but then I think about how our insatiable need for new and evolving entertainment will only inspire even bloodier shows in the future. In the meantime, though, I do know that it makes me incredible uncomfortable to see such a blatant disregard for life, animated or otherwise. And I never thought I would say this to anyone, but I implore you to stick to the fart jokes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

by no means am I condoning a saturation of violence in our culture, animated or recorded, but violence has always and will probably continue to be viewed as entertainment: just think of gladiator battles or medieval executions in the town square.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Arye said...

That's true but I can't remember it being this accessible to the masses, ya know?
And aren't we supposed to be more civilized than previous societies?

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop being a little bitch and get a sence of humor. If you don't like the violence then just don't watch it. I would guess that sports like hockey, football, and combat sports are also a little to scary for you. You need to stop complaining about stuff that has nothing to do with you and have a little fun. By reading some of the crap you write all you did was piss me off. You are the kind of person everyone hates. Nobody likes to be around someone who just complains all the time. Grow some balls.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Arye said...

"Combat sports"? Whoa. Intense, dude. Are you writing this in between bouts as a Roman gladiator?

Just to address the irony in your post:

1. Commentator leaving anonymous comment tells blogger to grow balls.

2. Commentator says, "If you don't like the violence then just don't watch it." The same commentator also says, "By reading some of the crap you write all you did was piss me off." So, is it like rain on your wedding day?

Oh, and FYI, the sense in your first sentence is misspelled.

12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i get my hydrocodone at buy hydrocodone - can't find any cheaper

8:41 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home