Monthly Archives: August 2017

Cartoon Network’s Scheduling Woes

Recently, the “Big Three” animation television networks—Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and Disney XD—have been relentlessly targeted for their less-than-favorable program scheduling. Cartoon Network specifically has been receiving quite a bit of cyberspace hate from grieving animation fanatics for months on end. Cartoon Network is being accused of selling out creatively for profit—two elements that are, by nature, polarizing. But ever since the release of Teen Titans GO! the checker box network has been coming under relentless fire.

 

Let’s take a look at this week’s schedule.

Out of all of the series that Cartoon Network currently airs, 46% (164 episodes) is taken up by Teen Titans GO! reruns. Now anyone who has seen a video of why Teen Titans GO! is an absolute disgrace is aware of the complaints plaguing the series and Cartoon Network’s schedule of it, so I won’t dive into that here; however allow me to redirect you to a previous blog post that discusses the issues surrounding the series.

 

What happened to variety? Is it really intelligently strategic to have almost half of network’s airtime directed at a 6-to-10-year-old age group? In my, and many others’ opinion, absolutely not. Each network may have a general target demographic that they skew their content towards, but they are rarely restrictive to this degree unless the network is focused on very niche programming. And given the vast range of animated content that is available (i.e. content ranging from PG-rated Phineas and Ferb to Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty), “animation” does not appeal to a specific niche. Rather than perceiving it as a genre, it should simply be considered just another medium and form of storytelling. In the long-run, poor scheduling will catch up to the network, and is already beginning to impact how Cartoon Network is being perceived in a negative light. It is alienating its wider audience and forms a redefined brand image that said network is only catering to insert very specific target audience here.

 

However, we also need to look at the other side of the spectrum. Business and creativity are naturally polarizing, so it’s difficult to analyze a corporation whose structure is built upon balancing these two opposing components; in other words, we need to assess both sides, not just the lack of variety in creative content. This is not to say that television executives know what their doing 100% of the time—many fail miserably, and other fail to learn from their miserable mistakes—but they are in the business of overseeing their television network, so have an abundance of insider information and years of industry experience to guide their decisions.

Rather than being all in for the Teen Titans GO! money grab, we need to stop assessing these people as greedy businessmen/women who are only in the entertainment industry for the sake of financial security. This is simply not the case. Scheduling is a meticulously-calculated decision involving research and data that we viewers probably would not be able to wrap our minds around; or possibly, it is the complete opposite. The importance here is that we don’t know what actually goes on during the planning meetings at Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney XD and every other television network out there.

 

Broadcast television is a dying platform. It’s quickly going downhill and these companies need to try to secure a solid income stream in order to stay afloat. If this means producing inexpensive flash cartoons based off of a hugely-popular series, then so be it. I personally believe that a large reason behind Cartoon Network’s constant airing of the series is a response to the increase of online streaming. Young children do not necessarily go out of their way to stream content on questionably-legal streaming services. They don’t have money to purchase content legally either. SO when it comes to entertainment, Netflix might be an option, but it’s likely that their parents will turn to a child-friendly television network and said child will be completely fine with whichever series is playing in that moment.

 

Other the other hand, older audience members, who crave plot, character development, high-quality animation, etc., will most likely stream content that they really want to watch, cutting out potential viewership numbers that networks are losing to the World Wide Web. This is my best guess as to why a hugely popular series with a highly prominent fandom, Steven Universe, receives a lower rating count when compared to a new episode premiere of Teen Titans GO! 

 

Series like Adventure TimeRegular ShowThe Amazing World of Gumball, etc. are much more expensive to create as they have deeper storylines, intertwining plots, and high-quality animation to appeal to the higher set of entertainment expectation of an older audience member. Teen Titans GO! on the other hand attracts a large viewership rating compared to these high-quality series, so carry a much greater return.

In response to this, Cartoon Network has been releasing more new content on its app and other digital platforms to recapture potential audience revenue that they are losing out on. This is no to excuse Cartoon Network for its lack of variety. It has its reasons for scheduling in the manner that it currently does. But it really is impacting the brand in a negative way. In this sense, it is trading in long-term gain for short-term gain—either this, or the network believes that it can easily redeem itself in the future. Either way, the expression don’t put all of your eggs in one basket comes to play here. Possibly, Cartoon Network knows that Teen Titans GO! will not be around for too long so might be attempting to capitalize on it now through a 50% scheduling “strategy”.

This, of course, does not stop a lot of people from their passionate anger that only stems from a love for excellent animation. Many people grew up with Cartoon Network and still spend hours of their week on the channel to this day.

 

Now, I’m not necessarily defending the network for it’s one-note and lackluster schedule; however it’s always important to keep in mind that there are two sides to a story and it is important to analyse the reasons and frame of mind from both sides, rather than simply dismissing one as idiotic and incompetent towards handling art and creativity. In addition, the network’s weekly schedule has been improving through releasing more episodes of OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes (see my review here) and reruns of the original Teen Titans series. Possibly Cartoon Network is listening to what it’s viewers have been vocalizing for months. Either way, things are looking forward!

But I Paid for It! Ebook Ownership and the ReDigi Case

ReDigi,  an online marketplace that enables the resale of "used" digital content, is being sued for by Capitol Records for copyright infringement. The case could very well set a new precedent for what ownership means in the digital world, and ebooks could be greatly affected (self-publishers should probably pay attention, too).

Self Affirmations

Your body is strong, dear girl

For not only do you carry the immense weiht of your own thoughts

But hold tight to the thoughts of other as well.

 

Not many will know what it’s like to feel the world the way you do, sweet girl

With soft eyes and a tender soul, resilient yet often victim such anguish

Not many will understand what it is like to feel with their whole existence all at once

 

From the depths of your belly to the hairs on the back of you neck

You feel

And you mustn’t fall for the tricks of those who cannot taste pain in the backs of their mouths

Or feel the sunshine course through every synapse and nerve

 

You must learn that those who are meant to stay will not look at your naked heart with fear or misunderstanding

But rather

Will sit down next to you

And ask if they can show you theirs too.

 

formula

I bit my lip, my eyes frantically gazing over the equation.

What if I couldn’t figure it out? What if I wasn’t ‘gifted’ like They said I was?

They would be disappointed if I couldn’t do it. No one ever wanted to disappoint them.

Would I get punished?

Would I get put back into the white room?

A chill shook my body. I hated the white room.

Sighed, I ran my hands through my hair, tugging on my scalp. “Just focus. It’s simple, you’re over thinking it.”

I took another look at the equation:

H+2W = L

Was it a code? What was I solving for?

Perhaps if they have given me more information I wouldn’t fail so miserably every time!

I stood up, my frustration getting the better of me. Hot anger pulsed through my body, my hands shook. I saw red, the blood roared in my ears. I was sick of this, of not knowing what was going on.

I was tired of staring at stupid, meaningless numbers and letters.

I swiped the papers and pencils off of the desk, they clattered to the ground, sounding like gun shots in the dead quiet room.

Suddenly, a group of people rushed in.

Men grabbed on to my arms, their grip tight enough to leave bruises as I struggled to break away.

What I’ve learned using Tinder for the past 5 months (on and off)

A follow up to the popular March 2017 post: “What I’ve learned using Tinder for two weeks”. Basically, just putting down in writing how jaded and grumpy I’ve become. Just kidding. No, not kidding at all.

I’ve downloaded and deleted Tinder like 10 times since I first got it, and it has definitely lost its appeal. I guess all love fades with time, and so too did my romance with the well-known dating app.

I’ve met some cool people on Tinder. I’ve met more people who seemed cool and then weren’t at all. Now, I just swipe aimlessly when I’m bored and then accidentally ignore everyone who messages me. It’s a very fulfilling practice that I will probably continue next time I re-download. In the meantime, enjoy some less optimistic observations about my time on Tinder.

1. People suck and the internet is garbage.

Might as well start with a reality check. The internet is full of horrible people and I seem to have come across most of them.

2. When you see a friend on Tinder and they don’t match with you, you’ll be gripped with an existential crisis of epic proportions.

Do they think I’m disgusting? Do they think I’ll take it the wrong way? Am I not cool enough to have “haha we matched on Tinder but shouldn’t actually date” witty banter? Are they just worried I’ll blog about it? Too bad, blogging about it anyway.

3. Sometimes Tinder makes a nice ice-breaker for real life, or shall we say, old fashioned, connections.

Those exist?

4. “Hannah!” is not an adequate pick-up line. Neither are active cliches like “if you could pick one ____ in the world to ____, what would it be?”

5. If people say they are “not” something… they usually are that thing.

6. You will get a lot more matches if you have a picture of yourself in a bathing suit.

Which brings me to my final point…

7. People suck and the internet is garbage.

 

That, or I’m just bored. Hey world, surprise me or something!

OK K.O.! Let’s be Heroes: Surprisingly Endearing

In 2013, the pilot for OK K.O.! Let’s be Heroes was created and released through Cartoon Network’s Summer Shorts program. Despite its positive reception, the now hugely popular series Steven Universe was, unregrettfully, chosen from the pack instead.

However, 4 years later, OK K.O.! finally earned its long-awaited chance to shine. On August 1st, 2017, Cartoon Network released four 11-minute episodes followed by multiple more during the days following, granting the series its starting momentum to reach potential heights. Ever since this K.O.! bomb, the series has been receiving plenty of hype throughout various online platforms and is starting off with a 8.4/10 rating on IMDB.

 

OK K.O.! is an episodic series told from the perspective of Ko—a young boy who tags along with his mother to work at the Lakewood Plaza Strip Mall. While his mother is working at her dojo storefront, Ko breaks off and and engages with the wacky personalities within the vicinity—both shop owners and customers. Ko’s dream, and typically the center of most episodes, is to become a admirable hero; because in this universe, everyone has specific abilities in the art of butt-kicking that is showcased through a level-ranking system. Most of the people located within the plaza are at a certain level ranging from 1-11, and it’s implied that 100 in the highest. Ko is currently at level zero, but wants more than anything to level up to become the “greatest hero in the world”. Although the series is told from his perspective, we also get a sense of the other two personalities who work at Gar’s Bodega, a convenience store in the plaza where Ko spends the majority of his time, Enid and Radicles.

 

The series aesthetic is very promising. Its art style and character designs are incredibly unique in the world of post-Adventure Time television animation (in which many series take after its style). OK K.O.! uses hand-drawn animation which is different from the high and low quality Flash cartoons we have been receiving lately—not that Flash or ToomBoom is necessarily bad, in fact Star Vs. the Forces of Evil along with Gravity Falls are prime examples of Flash done right—but straying from the current norm is the sole definition of standing out from the crowd; and this is exactly what OK K.O.! brings to the table.

The character designs of the series also stands out immensely. There are no bounds to the type of characters that are shown on screen, and their mannerisms also follow a random and unrestricted pattern. It is clear that the crew enjoyed creating these characters and were able to use their unbounded imagination throughout the creation process. The series’ style may take some getting used to. It has somewhat of an intentional unpolished look to the line art and colouring, and characters are known to break their character model’s often; but after being accustomed to its aesthetic, it’s easy to see the series’ visual appeal.

 

The writing of the series follows a villain-of-the-day kind of format. Each 11-minute episode is self contained, which suits the premise of the series. It’s difficult to picture OK K.O.! following a continuous plot that stretches over more than a couple of episodes; but this form of storytelling is well-suited to the series and writers’ intentions. Although series like Steven Universe and Adventure Time are heavily story-based, this should not be used as a defining benchmark for an excellent animated series. Some shows are designed to be self-contained and bring other well-placed elements to the table—which is perfectly fine and adds variety to the series that are available.

The humor of this series is the complete opposite of stale. I found myself laughing at the dialogue, visual gags (especially those that take inspiration from, while poking fun at, Japanese anime), and some of the situational humour. The dialogue is snappy and the jokes are quite clever but not overly-glorified. A lot of the humour is subtle or referential; details that can be easily missed if not enough attention is paid. However, the understated jokes are very appealing.

 

There hasn’t been too much character development so far, but we do get a sense of the main and reoccurring characters’ personalities. Ko is a gem. He is clearly a kid who carries a very optimistic view of the world and people around surrounding him. He is naive in this sense, but this trait allows him to find enjoyment in the little things while truly seeing the beauty in all different kinds of people (or specimens) that he encounters. Writing a young boy character can be difficult to get right; however, this series has nailed it so far. Ko is somewhat hardheaded, but he often chooses to listen and learn from his mistakes—a quality that is lacking in many modern-day animated protagonists. He admirably pours his heart into his self-imposed mission of becoming a great hero, but doesn’t let this objective blind him from his other responsibilities. Ko is such an endearing boy and, although has some pitfalls, he is portrayed as a well-rounded individual who is eager to learn all that he can.

 

Ko’s single-mother, Carol, is very supportive of Ko’s journey to become a great hero, and allows him to train at Gar’s Bodega. She loves her son very much and gives him plenty of freedom to follow his passions and the appropriate amount of space to grow. When he gets into self-inflicted trouble, she does not reprimand him for it; instead she actively helps him to reverse said problem. Additionally, she works at the Lakewood Plaza as the owner of Fitness Emotions, a fight/exercise club. Her hero level is quite high at 11.

 

Enid is one of my personal favourite characters. Working at Gar’s Bodega, her character traits fall along the lines of an self-intitled young adult. She has shown some behaviours of laziness, but knows to act accordingly when necessary. She gives off an older-sister feel whenever she addressed Ko. She teases him but always has his back at the end of the day and finds his actions endearing. At times Enid seems to forget that Ko is just a kid, and speaks to him as if he is on equal footing. And in other cases both her and Radicles share moments of immaturity with Ko, which makes for an entertaining and fitting dynamic.

 

Overall, the series has experienced a promising start; and as the excitement over it increases, hope for a second season does as well. However, the series’ ratings seemed to have dipped below a million views on Cartoon Network, which isn’t very promising. Some of the episodes were released prematurely on Cartoon Network’s app, so this might be the reasoning behind the dip in viewership, but either way, its early success is not implied to even somewhat guarantee a second season.

Here’s hoping that OK K.O.! Let’s be Heroes receives a long-lasting place on Cartoon Network.

 


A/N: I was definitely not expecting this series to be as good as it turned out. In all honesty, I was expecting to dislike it, completely judging the book by its cover. I was definitely wrong to do so, and am very glad that I was able to look passed the series unorthodox exterior—and even better, realize the charm that its style carries.

By the power vested in me, I grant this series a place is the category of highly recommended animated series.

 

the key

They found the key at the bottom of the well, just like the treasure map showed.

Although, it was not the key they had been envisioning; when first coming across the map, Hunter and his friend’s pictured something old and rustic. They had always imagined a delicate key, with an intricate design – just like in the movies.

This key… was plain.

It had some curves to it, but the design was simple.

“What do we do now?” Holland asked. Her brows were pulled together, her nose scrunched up; it was a typical look she gave when she was confused.

“Does the map say anything else, Hunter?” Jack held the key in his hand, gazing at it intently as if the key would shout out answers to him if he stared hard enough.

“Um,” Hunter pulled the map out of his back pocket, unfolding it and looking carefully. “No, nothing else.”

“Maybe we’re missing a piece of the map?” Holland began to pace.

Jack shook his head, his lips pressed into a flat line. “This is useless, we travelled all this way, left our homes, for a plain key? Where’s all the treasure you promised us, Hunter?”

“Jack calm down,” Holland hissed.

“No!” Jack waved her off. “I was promised treasure that would allow me to help my aunt. A key,” he held it in the air, “is not going to help me pay for her medication. This key is useless! This whole trip is useless!”

In his anger, Jack threw the key. It flew across the yard of the abandoned farmhouse, landing with a clatter on the gravel driveway.

“Jack!” Holland shouted. “We get it, we’re disappointed too, but you don’t have to throw a fit. I mean… Hunter? What are you doing?”

While Holland had been trying to reason with Jack, Hunter had made his way to the discarded key.

He couldn’t believe this was the end of the search.

He wouldn’t believe it.

Hunter crouched down, a grin plastered on his face as he gazed at the now-broken key.

The two rushed over, taking in what was before them.

“Oh my god,” Holland whispered.

They key laid in a small pile of metal.

However, sticking out of the top of the key was a small slip of paper.

Another map.

The search was back on.