Monday, October 1, 2007

Super Friends

Remember the old cartoon the Super Friends? Earth's mightiest super heroes, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman and flunky boy (ok, "Robin" to all the pureists) and Aquaman, all hung around the Hall of Justice, plucking loose change from the reflective pond, waiting for some "democratically elected" leader to call with the emergency of the day ("Super Friends, help, my goiter is threatening the entire city!").

Before you could say "what the...?", the Super Friends were off, with bass profundo voices boasting about how they must stop this evil goiter from spreading. There went Superman, who probably should have been able to take care of it himself, but felt obliged to include his "lame-o compared to Superman" buds in the action. There went Wonder Woman, flying in her invisible jet, never quite realizing that she was still visible inside the cockpit ("hey, just how does she fly in a seated position?", slack-jawed on-lookers would say) Batman and doofus would usually try some kind of technologically sophisticated way of dealing with the goiter from hell, usually by tossing bat-a-rangs in the general vicinity. And Aquaman. Ah, poor Aquaman. The show's writer's never seems to come up with underwater dangers, so bubbles had to keep busy by using his "telepathic fish control" to sort the denizens of the deep by size and colour until the episode was nearly over.

The show was incredibly poorly drawn and animated, probably so the kids watching would think "I've drawn Superman better in the margins of my math homework, I'll bet I could be an animator too!" Really, though, Supe's head seems to expand and contract at times, and Aquaman often looks like he broke his knees in a tragic slip-and-fall in the Hall of Justice potty.

What really agrivated were the "stories", which were written at the time when Saturday morning cartoons were being made "safe" for all the little moron children of North America. "Safe", of course, meant watered down and predictable, as legislators and censors thought that including drama or action in a kids show would detract from their desire to check out the latest toy or breakfast cereal commercials. What we ended up with were plot devices like this one.

Picture this, Lex Luthor, Superman's arch-nemesis, has used his evil genius power to trap nearly all the Super Friends. He has devised a handy portable device to electronicaly cage them, and he has suceeded beyond his wildest dreams. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, other guy, even the "wonder twins", two lavender-clad aliens who did things like "form the shape of water" and "become a pelican", obstensively to make Aquaman look useful by comparison. The wonder twits also had some kind of space monkey, for whom the less said, the beter. All Lex has to to is trap Superman, who is off-planet in this episode enabling some other cosmic co-dependant. But does Lex just wait and trap Superman when he comes back??? Of course not! Not seeing Superman anywhere near by, he says "I guess I won't need this anymore, and tosses the handy device away!!!!

Of course anyone can predict the ending. Superman flies back, frees his friends and makes Was there some kind of lesson I missed? No-one could tell, as the final scene was always the Super Dudes back at the Hall of Justice, making some kind of crack at the space-monkey's expense. I guess he did have some kind of use after all.

Better than awesome elections

Remember when news anchor Kent Brockman said on The Simpsons, "I said it before and I'll say it again....democracy just doesn't work"? Funny stuff, for sure, but like all good humor, there's a ring of truth to it. Most philosophical types will happily admit that the weakness of any democratic system of government, is that the people who actually seek power are most often the type of people who you wouldn't want running a tilt-a-whirl ride at your local fair.

Then I was struck. Struck first by the cat, who thought it would be amusing to hear the sound I make when she jumps unannounced onto my groin (for the record, that sound is "hnnngh"). Then I was struck by the thought of conscripted democratic leadership. Why are we wasting money on elections for people no-one trusts, when we can just force some kind and wise person to lead us for four years? Oh sure, the milque-toasts out there will whine about how you can't impose on someone's "freedom of choice", but I say if someone is unlucky enough to be wise, calm and rational, they should suck it up and lead the country for a single, four-year term. They wouldn't have to worry about re-election because a) they were never elected in the first place and b) after four years they'll be replaced. Conscripted Democratic Leadership. Think about it.