Thursday, March 17, 2011

All-Stars to the Rescue

This post is dedicated to the Public Service Announcements of the world. What would we do without you? I would be on crack cocaine right now if it weren't for the important morals taught me via TV public service announcements. I missed the amazing moral-lesson craze that happened in cartoons in the 80's, but I definitely saw some of them afterward and got a taste of it in Sesame Street. Here is one awesome cartoon movie you may or may not remember depending on whether you were older than 3 years old when it came out: Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, courtesy of Tyler Woolley.

It was a cartoon television special in 1990 aimed at drug prevention that McDonald's put on (it's okay though, doing drugs is obviously worse than eating food full of hormones, so it's not as hypocritical as at first it may seem.) It's got all the popular cartoons, a motley crew from blue men (they always seem to come up, see my post Old Spice Sesame-ed) to aliens to Slimer, which they had to get permission from all of them to use (er... well, they were supposed to). It was simulcast on all three major American television networks and the VHS edition opened with an intro from President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Hold up, an ex-President of the United States of America introduced this show? AND the ex-First Lady? Now you have no choice. Maybe you don't know this but it is against the law not to watch anything that the President, in particular any of the Bush family of presidents, has personally endorsed, whether or not you are an American citizen or not. Not watching it is not an option at this point.

Good-call, cartoon characters. Fantasy journey's are always the best way to teach the risks and consequences of drugs. They are also what happens when you use drugs, so they would be the most appropriate way to communicate with those tempted to use them.

Now, why is it that Papa Smurf notices the piggy bank is missing off the shelf and immediately jumps to the conclusion that it is stolen? Maybe she just moved it Papa Smurf, how do you know? I am pretty jealous of this girls room. I would very much like a framed picture of Alf by my bed instead of my actual family or friends and I would love a Garfield lamp and Kermie clock. What I don't quite understand is why exactly Slimer from Ghostbusters shows up.Not a doll Slimer or a picture of Slimer or a toothbrush in the shape of Slimer, no, just Slimer himself, you know, passing through a wall. Slimer, what are you doing in this show?!? Are you in any capacity to contribute to a serious drug intervention? Was one of the producers friends with one the producers of Ghosterbusters? I can't imagine anyone is so much of a fan of Slimer that they just had to include him, or that after including Winnie-the-Pooh and Huey, Dewey and Louie, someone had the genuine thought, "You know whose missing? Slimer."

One of my favorite quotes might be when Alvin's intellectual chipmunk brother Simon says, "I hate to suggest this but my guess would be marijuana. An unlawful substance used to experience artificial highs." There is something very disturbing about having your beloved, innocent cartoon characters encounter drugs and be able to identify their contents. Marijuana should not be in their chipmunk vocabulary. Gone are the days when you could smoke pot inside an arcade. I like how Wikipedia describes the freakish, talking, devil-on-your-shoulder pot cloud: "an anthropomorphic cloud of smoke with a mafioso-like appearance and personality." Note to self: do not hang out at the arcade. Bad things happen. And anthropomorphic clouds of smoke with mafioso appearances show up. Uncool. When one of Michael's so-called "friends" shows him some crack, I feel like there are critical boundaries that are being crossed here and I for one, am saying no to crack being in a cartoon. And Marijuana. And even beer.

Bad things also happen at the park too. The safe places I can hang out are getting smaller and smaller. I have a feeling that you can't buy crack cocaine for ten dollars anymore, but I don't know, and I don't want to know. Smoke, the anthropomorphic cloud, physically takes Michael's wallet and gives it to the girl with the big hat who runs off with it. At this point I had to ask, what exactly is Smoke supposed to represent? Is Smoke the devil? Is he supposed to be a metaphor for Michael's addiction warring with his conscience? That is not clear. I will have to write the producers (if they're not dead, too senile to remember what the hell they were thinking twenty years ago, or too damaged by the drugs they were obviously taking when they made this movie). I was kind of offended by how harsh Michelangelo was to Michael. First off, their names are related, and secondly, the poor guys running after his stolen wallet. In fact, he did the right thing by refusing to buy the Crack, and now Michelangelo is getting after him for falling down a manhole that he uncovered for no purpose, without looking to see if someone might be coming. When he gets sucked down the drain, Baby Kermit, Baby Piggy and Baby Gonzo show up and obviously have connections with the Ninja Turtles.

Wonderful Ways to Say NO
My question is, why are the Muppet Babies in a manhole??? What is going on??? That is no place for babies! I would not leave my babies in the hands of a giant turtle whose home is a sewer. I was a little concerned about where the  babies get their facts. As much as I am all for "say no to drugs," what kind of marijuana is it that they think Michael would have to take to mess up with his brain that much? What I don't get, isn't it a little irresponsible of the Muppet Babies to take Michael on their fantasy journey into his brain right when he is in the middle of skateboarding? And then just ditch him as he is about to lose his life to oncoming traffic? Just because they are babies doesn't mean they can get away with stunts like that. Someone has got to hold those Muppet Babies accountable. The best part of the whole movie happens next. Michael wakes up in the park and Huey, Dewey and Louie along with the other cartoon characters show up for a sing-along to teach him the Wonderful Ways to Say No song. I would like to learn the Wonderful Ways to Say No song.

I was doubly disturbed when Michael takes a look at the mirror in his marijuana box and sees Alf, who pulls him through it into a hall of mirrors. That is some potent marijuana. If I saw Alf in the mirror I would probably defile my pants. But what is really disturbing about this part? Michael says he is in charge of his own life and could quit anytime, and Alf says no, you can't. You see, there is something we've been hiding from you naive little boy. The man in charge of your life? His name is Smoke. Wait a second, that demon cloud that stole your wallet is actually "The Man in Charge"? Are you kidding me??? We're all screwed... It's like those cop movies where someone is after you and the people you think are there to save you are actually corrupt cops who are now going to make it their life's goal to hunt you down, kill you and then erase your identity so that it was like you were never born, like a cartoon version of the Bourne movies... It isn't until then, and only confirmed afterward when like from some sort of horror movie he is trapped inside a twisted carnival where your childhood cartoons smile at you as you are about to be cut up by giant saw blades and eternally falling from one near-death to another, that this was never a kids movie. This is an unrated horror show made for teens to watch on Halloween and cry at night when their friends go home and can't witness how  terrified they really are.

It's official. Smoke is the Grim Reaper.
Because if this really was a cartoon for children, why does Smoke need to come back at all? Not much of an "All-Star" team if they can't even eliminate the bad guys for good. I don't know how I would feel as a child if instead of a happy ending my cartoons ended with a sad admittance that the bad guys will only return once more and we will all just have to be ready when they do. Normally I would say this is the producers way of keeping the option for a sequel open; two decades later I'm still waiting. Obviously no one ever told them that a person can only take so much of reality in cartoon format.

I don't know about you, but I need closure.

So you see children, TV is good for you. It teaches you important life lessons like how if you are taking enough drugs, cartoon characters like Papa Smurf will come to life to help you out. You will no longer be on drugs but you will definitely leave feeling disillusioned and disturbed.

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