I pride myself in not being a geek. You may classify me as a dork or a nerd, but I am not a geek. I know nothing about comic books, other than the fact that The Punisher is filming in Tampa, but I don’t even know who The Punisher is. I don’t play geeky board games refered to as superhero chess, because they have superheroes instead of game pieces. I’ve never gone to a cartoon, anime or dragon convention and had only recently discovered that such curiosities exist.
I do, however, occasionally enjoy watching cartoons. But a distinction must be made. I don’t spend my time watching Dragonball Z instead of going to class and I could pass up any episode of Ren and Stimpy for a night out with real people.
On the other hand, I go slightly past those who only appreciate The Simpsons. Although I’ve been watching it for only about six months, I have to say that shows such as Family Guy and Home Movies are up to par with the famed d’ohs of Homer. Recently, I’ve been tuning in, almost every night, to Adult Swim, the late night segment on Cartoon Network designed especially for a more mature audience than the network’s daytime viewers.
The crew over at Adult Swim have tastes similar to mine … well, almost. They play back-to-back Futurama and Family Guy, and on Sundays they even play some of the other great cartoons such as Sea Lab 2021 or The Brak Show. But it’s only on Sundays when I can indulge in my guilty pleasures. Other days of the week are consumed by two hours of japanimation.
With all due respect to the fans of this big-eyed genre, when I watch cartoons, I expect to take a break from reality, preferably, a funny break from reality. Anime’s plot lines, for me at least, are too serious to be pure escapism and with them carry no humor. I’m not asking for every weeknight to be filled with my favorite shows such as Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law or Aqua Teen Hunger Force. All I ask for is more than one night a week that lets me enjoy the only pseudo-geeky entertainment I get — cartoons.
Sure, these shows may have been thought up by stoners; after all, Aqua Teen Hunger Force is not about water and teenagers but superhero fast food items, such as a meatball, a milkshake and a box of French fries. But these shows rely on more than just two characters hitting each other with sticks, like many cartoons do now. Instead, they deliver humor, sometimes through cynicism and sarcasm, which is hard to find anywhere else.
The shows that air so rarely on Adult Swim take the cartoon constitution created by The Simpsons and add amendments and revisions.
Family Guy, a show about a typical suburban family, where the father constantly loses his job, the maniacal toddler is set on destroying his parents, the dog is smarter than anyone in the family and the two teenage children have more problems than having kids is worth, got cancelled by its original network (FOX) due to the show’s controversial nature. It may have only been on for three seasons, but it opened the doors for braver topics to be discussed on television.
It’s true, all of these shows are a little quirky, but at least they aim at something above the intelligence level of a 10-year-old.
I may not yet be ready to sit down with my DVD and compare the original Cowboy Bebop cartoons with the recent movie of the same title. I am, however, ready to fight for my rights as a new-born cartoon watcher. If you want to recruit me into your ranks, geeks, give me what I want and I will come begging.
Olga Robak is scene’s Entertainment Editor and can be reached at email@example.com.