Sunday, May 1, 2011

John Remembers Captain Planet

Captain Planet leads a group of children to their
deaths each and every week!
And not warmly.

The first season of Captain Planet and the Planeteers was released this month on the 19th (news to me), and has been met with critical fondness for its overall message of environmental advocacy towards 90's youth. USAToday (which, if you know me, I don't want to wait until USATomorrow if I can get my news USAToday) praises the overall positive message of the show, and there are blog posts online that have covered the 'premiere parties" of the DVD's release. Everyone seems to really remember the show as being one of the best cartoons of its days.

Does anyone actually remember how much this show sucked? Cuz' it sucked.

Some things to consider;

1) The premise. Gaia, the spirit of Earth that was awakened at the start of the series due to the damage man had done to the planet, decided to give individual rings to 5 teenagers that would grant them the ability of a different element (or in Ma-Ti's case, "heart"... why not just call him "self-esteem") that would allow them to battle the forces of pollution and environmental destruction.

Okay. The spirit of Earth, obviously a wise and omnipotent being strong enough to control the basic elements of the planet and wield them into ring-form, has decided to give this insane amount of power to a bunch of straight-edge teenagers from around the world, who luckily all speak the English language and are best friends immediately. Never mind the grown adults who went to college and majored in Environmental Science and Sustainability, leading to rewarding careers in the EPA. Fuck those tree-hugging assholes. Give the power to those kids.

And to make matters worse, these kids go to war with some really horrible people! Which leads to our second "considerable thought"...

2) The villains. Most of the villains in the show were representative of a greater concern to the environment, like nuclear pollution or robbing the Earth of its forests for the purposes of capitalism. Y'know, kid's stuff. But remember, these are individuals who are fighting teenage kids on a daily basis.

Duke Nukem was a radioactive mutant whose sidekick needs to wear a radiation suit because of the level of radiation being given off by the villain. This guy is fucking radioactive. He's leaking radiation, literally, all the time. And he's fighting kids. At no point in any episode do the kids just say, "Let's go contact a Clean-Up response team to take this guy out." See, again, this is why the EPA would've made much better Planeteers than these kids would.

On a side-note, I bet Duke Nukem's bathroom redefines the word "contamination site". Oof.

Dr. Blight is a mad-scientist with a half mangled face and a super computer. Verminous Skumm is a rat-like monstrosity. Hoggish Greedly is a pig-man who pollutes the planet and talks like Ed Asner. I repeat. Teenagers with earth-rings are fighting a half-man, half-pig who talks like Ed Asner. Do you remember what Ed Asner did to Mary Tyler Moore? He made her cry, like, every episode. And that's without pig powers!

3) The message. I really should rephrase and say the delivery of the message, because I don't have a problem with the message at all. If you want to say "Hey, we want to do a cartoon that's going to teach kids the dangers of pollution, but also be fun!" That's all well and good. But if you're going to do it, do it right. And thus was born "Fern Gully"...

Here's a description of an episode from the first season's DVD set. Two villains, Dr. Blight and Duke Nukem, hold Captain Planet for ransom in Antarctica. What's the ransom? A lifetime supply of nuclear waste. Ignoring the simple fact that giving these two characters the amount of nuclear waste they want would actually require creating that nuclear waste and then shipping it to them, neither of which is something a "rainbow coalition" of kids can do, if you know anything about the show you know Captain Planet is summoned by absorbing the powers of the combined kids (as long as they "wish" for him). So now these fucking kids are working without any powers. Now they're just a bunch of kids without passports who bought plane tickets to Antarctica to be killed by a radioactive monster.

Now I want you two to kiss...
I'm going to leave you on one more thing. Captain Planet appears at the end of virtually every episode of the show, when things get too out of control for the kids. And he basically solves their problem for them. So Gaia must've known that these kids would never be able to seal the deal. It's the equivalent of saying "Okay, you kids can go out and fight crime, but if things get too scary, blow on your maaaagic whistles and I'll send your older brother Jeff to come help you."

Oh. And LeVar Burton is Kwame. Fuckin' dude did everything in the nineties.

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