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Where’s Fred?

More on the Mooninite menace

By Brian Thomas     February 12, 2007

Wow, last week’s column on the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Throwie brouhaha in Boston ignited a little flame war among the readers. As with so many things these days, the news was taken as an opportunity for debate over political opinion, which immediately devolved into a lot of childish name calling. I admire your passion, but maybe we should all calm down and backtrack to what the issues really are here.

On the one hand, we have people who are angry because a lot of Bostonians had to wait in traffic for a while, and that the bomb squad had to be called in to investigate, all because of advertising for a TV (and upcoming movie cartoon – and not a particularly good cartoon at that (though it does have a following).

On the other hand, we have people who feel the authorities and much of the media overreacted to what turned out to be a non-threatening situation.

I fall a bit into each camp on this one, and here’s why. For one thing, unlike graffiti, an advertising campaign doesn’t even have the shaky ground of artistic expression to fall back on in its defense. This is business, and if the agency couldn’t get permission to place their ads on public property – and it’s unlikely they even tried – they should have contracted with the owners of buildings to display the Throwies. There are plenty of urban properties that could use a little income, particularly eyesores like empty buildings and construction sites. If they had, the police could have simply asked the owners what those strange boxes with the blinky lights were without any fuss. Since they didn’t even try to go through channels, instead opting to be “edgy”, what they did was illegal and they should be fined. If their clients knew about what was going on, they should be fined, too. A more questionable issue is whether they should be held accountable for the public panic – or perceived public panic – that ensued. This was not a hoax or a prank. It was advertising, and two men who were arrested for placing the Throwies in Boston have plead Not Guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and “placing hoax devices”. These guys have been hung out to dry and made scapegoats, but it’s likely the case will get thrown out of court. Meanwhile, in an awesome display of deep pockets, Turner Broadcasting and the ad agency pre-empted any legal action against them by throwing two million dollars in cash at Boston.

But those who feel that an overreaction of government agents like this is necessary in this “post-9/11 world” are dead wrong. Many are saying that, “if this had been an actual emergency, you would be glad that such a big reaction was enacted”. No, if this had been an actual emergency, Boston would have been in deep trouble. If this had been an actual emergency, I would be plenty mad that there was no reaction at all for two full weeks. Presumably, police and/or firefighters in the other cities where the Throwies were displayed were either smart enough to see the ads for what they are, or found out that there was no threat by investigating. Check that – it’s going a bit too far to say that police in Chicago or Portland knew anything about the Throwies. It could be that the same thing could have happened in Philadelphia if it hadn’t happened in Boston first. We just don’t know.

So where should we affix the blame? Certainly not with firefighters or security personnel; these people are professional paranoids, trained to throw buckets of water on a lit match. Better to overreact than to regret a tragedy. And though the ad agency was foolish, they certainly didn’t mean any harm. And the citizen inquiring about the strange box with lights on it was probably just curious or suspicious, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with having something like that checked out. So maybe blame isn’t what we should be looking for here. Maybe we should just be thankful for a false alarm and try to be more thoughtful in the future.

Meanwhile, an internet security company quickly acquired one of the Throwies for a raffle to raise awareness of technology security issues – and give themselves some publicity.

SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK


Now, here’s one security agent that can always be relied upon to do the Right thing..

AMERICAN DAD

(O) AMERICAN DAD (Fox) This second series from Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) about a gung ho CIA agent with a huge jaw had an awkward start, unable to reconcile its political themes with attempts to establish its cast. The concept is that broad shouldered Stan Smith is constantly finding his values challenged by his family, which somehow includes a fugitive ET and a German man who has been transformed into a fish. But in its second year, the writing staff (which operates as a separate unit from the Family Guy team) has managed to smooth out the wrinkles and find a solid & funny character-driven groove.

NEW DVD RELEASES


Here’s a rundown of the constant stream of anime comin’ at ya on DVD from around the world:

(O) ANIMUSIC (Alpha)
(O) ANIMUSIC 2 (Alpha) Blends of music and animation culled from the Animusic website.
(O) THE COMPLETE TOXIC AVENGER (Troma) Includes all four Toxie feature films, a Making-Of on Citizen Toxie, and all 13 episodes of the Toxic Crusaders Saturday morning cartoon show.
(O) DORA THE EXPLORER: Musical School Days (Paramount) Four episodes.

ELEMENTAL GELADE Volume 5: Decisions

(O) ELEMENTAL GELADE Volume 5: Decisions (Geneon) While the group continues to wonder about Viro's intentions, they must also find answers to Chaos Choir's intentions in order to survive. When the group arrives at Viro's childhood village, they find a lot more than they bargained for as newer and more powerful enemies lie in wait.
(O) MAISON IKKOKU Box Set Volume 4 (Viz) Young student Yusaku Godai tries to win the love of his apartment building manager, Kyoko Otonashi, while struggling to finish school, survive his eccentric neighbors, and defeat his rival.
(O) WALT DISNEY'S IT'S A SMALL WORLD OF FUN Volume 3 (Buena Vista) Cartoon shorts from the Disney library with an international theme. Includes “Tiger Trouble”, “Pueblo Pluto”, “Alpine Climbers”, “Johnny Appleseed”, “Hello Aloha” and “The Fox Hunt”.
(O) WALT DISNEY'S IT'S A SMALL WORLD OF FUN Volume 4 (Buena Vista) Includes “For Whom the Bulls Toil”, “The Little House”, “The Reluctant Dragon”, “Polar Trappers” and “The Goddess of Spring”.
(O) ZATCH BELL Volume 8: A Fierce Combination (Viz) Episodes 29-32. Zatch and Kiyo compete with Tia and Megumi to see which tag team is better. Then Zatch unlocks the secret of a new transfer student.


NOT ON DVD CORNER

In last week’s DVD Shopping List column, I introduced a new feature that’ll be popping up there semi-regularly, and it’ll be appearing here as well from time to time. Even with an Avalanche of Anime pouring down the mountain onto DVD, there’s still quite a bit still clinging up on a ridge somewhere. Now, we’re not talking about new TV series or features still playing in theaters – we can assume that these will probably make their way onto disc pretty soon after their run ends elsewhere. We’re talking about movies and TV series that, despite the amount of product available, have for some reason failed to appear, and are on the Most Wanted lists of plenty of fans. Maybe - just maybe – by noting their absence we’ll remind someone at a DVD label that there’s money waiting to be made. You can send your suggestions to Anime Avalanche, and be sure to put “NOT ON DVD” in the subject line.

(O) THE MAN CALLED FLINTSTONE (Warner Bros.) This 1966 theatrical feature that followed in the wake of the smash Hanna-Barbera Stone Age sitcom was announced as a Warner Home Video title back in 2005, but due to legal complications the DVD was canceled, and it’s only available now outside the USA. When secret agent Rock Slag is injured, his exact double Fred Flintstone is recruited to replace him for an important mission to “Eurock”. Making matters more difficult is the requirement that Fred keep his mission a complete secret and not even let his family and friends in on it. Making the movie more difficult to sit through is the conventional wisdom (since proved false) that feature length animated films need to be broken up with musical numbers. Since WHV doesn’t own the rights to these songs (the feature was originally released by Columbia Pictures, who released a soundtrack album on their ColGems label), they’re unable to do anything with the movie until the rights are cleared. The same problem dogs H-B’s first feature Hey There It’s Yogi Bear.



And be sure to check back next week—and every week—for Mania’s Anime Avalanche! And check in every Tuesday for the latest DVD Shopping List!

Anime Avalanche (© 2007 Brian Thomas) is our weekly anime column. Brian Thomas is the author of the massive book VideoHound’s DRAGON: ASIAN ACTION & CULT FLICKS, available now!


Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at Anime Avalanche.


COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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mckracken 2/12/2007 1:08:48 PM
wow a box set of all four Toxie flicks AND all 13 cartoons? thats great news. It shows they might actually be listening.
gamera23 2/16/2007 4:24:59 PM
Too bad - Troma has delayed this release yet again. _BT
karas1 2/19/2007 8:30:24 AM
One can say, "Well, the terrorists would want to disguise their bombs as something harmless and use a cartoon character to make them look innocuous." And maybe a creative terrorist would think of that. But I would expect a Middle Eastern terrorist who was not that familliar with American culture to pick Mickey Mouse or some other character more familliar to Americans and the world in general and not a character from a late night cable program that would be unfamilliar to many Americans. Also, putting blinking lights on your bomb is a bad idea in general because blinking lights draw the eye and a bomb that was just a small black thing would draw less attention to itself which would, in the end, hide it better than trying to disguise it as an advertisement.
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