Thursday, August 18, 2011

MLPFIM: Beyond the TV

It's amazing how the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic series can envelope one's interest so completely.

That can be easily shown by all the fan works about it by the adult fans who take the basic premise and characters and run with them like creative track stars.

For instance, I have been enjoying a new fanfic series of crossover stories with the TV series, Stargate SG-1: Stargate Equestria.  I know, that sounds like an impossible combination, but the writer makes it work far better than you'd ever expect with a real understanding of both media properties.  Just the scene of where the hotshot pegasus Rainbow Dash learns the real responsibilities of being an provisional Captain of the US Air Force when Col. O'Neil dresses her down for disobeying his orders shows a special understanding to mix the aesops of MLP with the hardheaded military realism of SG to amazing effect.

Then there are flights of fancy where the fans' imagination takes them to all sorts of places.  For instance, there the stuff they do with this popular sequence with the season finale's big musical number, "At the Gala":

Such as making a male version of the piece:

Not mention what some clever editing can do such with as the theme song for the classic superhero comedy animated series, Freakazoid:

And then they really get creative after that:

Ah, media addiction; the all encompassing thing to enjoy where you least expect it.  Now, I'm finding if Big Bang Theory get do it itself and Stargate SG-1 can it again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

London Riots and Uglier Public Reactions

Seeing the whole ugliness of the London riots, I can't help but see a much more sickening reaction to it by too much of the mass media and authorities.

For instance, reading about British PM David Cameron's tirade saying that the expansion of human rights as being a cause of the social disturbances is truly disturbing in and of itself.  Now, he is taking in this as a pretext to attack the basic laws to designed to further those rights and twist them for his own ends, with a sop to social services to cover

Likewise, it seems that too much of the media can only focus on the looting and various crimes incurred while paying only lip service to the police shooting that sparked the protests that admittedly gotten out of hand.  As usual, my favourite paper, The Toronto Star at least has some articles explaining the larger problems that sparked this violence, such as the widening gap of the rich and poor.

Otherwise, it seems that wiser heads need to fight to get their voices heard with fury and give real perspective to these incidents like this man did on BBC TV:

I just hope others like in London, Ontario itself can realize that properly supported public libraries and similar public services for the underprivileged to make them feel some hope and connection to society can do more to prevent these incidents than any amount of police intimidation or simplistic political gamesmanship can ever do.

Even so, for real solutions, that can only be a start...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Film Adaptations of the Strangest Kind

Sometimes one can look at the state of Hollywood films and your jaw can drop at what they are willing to use for story material for movies.

For me, the nadir has got to be the idiotic idea adapting the kiddie board game, Candy Land, for a film.  The worst part about that is that the idea that much more feasible with a film adaptation of the guessing game, Battleship is about to open.

If they have to adapt board games, why can't they use ones with more story potential like Scotland Yard;  the idea of young detectives chasing Mr. X around London feels like there might work.  See this 1980s commercial and you'll understand the idea:

At the same time, the recent announcement of Eddie Murphy starring in a film adaptation of the old Hanna-Barbera animated series, Hong Kong Phooey, sounds much better to me than most people think. The series was shackled with a typical prohibition concerning violence for SAT-AM and seeing the character finally cut loose in battle could definitely work with a Jackie Chan like tone.  Just see Jackie's scenes in this commercial for his North American breakthrough film, substituting HKP for him, and you can see how this could work:

Failing that, they can use the inspiration from this little indulgence from 10 years ago.

Hey, it beats a Candy Land film any day.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Seeing the economic turmoil because of the Tea Party nutcases' moronic obstinacy in the US Congress, the whole tempest over Nycole Turmel as interim leader of the NDP is even more petty and repellent here.

After all, was one of the insiders of Brian Mulroney's federal cabinet before the Meech Lake Accord debacle and how is Steven Harper's former vow to put a "firewall around Alberta" any different in trying to divide the country than any of the antics the PQ has ever done in Quebec? 

As Claude Denis points out in today's Toronto Star's article about Turmel and the NDP, the PQ and BQ have dominated the leftwing Quebec for decades.  Therefore, if you are of a progressive orientation in that province, you pretty much have to align with them to some degree to have a real chance to achieve your political goals.

What the federal NDP has done is co-opt many of the supporters of the BQ and redirected them to a leftwing party with a clear federalist priority, their reckless Clarity Act stand notwithstanding.  Instead of being praised for that, the media just mindlessly follows Steven Harper's self-serving wedge issue manipulation and refuses to see the bigger picture as when it sneered at the NDP's young new MPs when it should have been a moment of celebration of Canada's political renewal.

Really, when the world economy is being battered by a few fanatic American rightwing Congressional hardasses who are greedy, blind and immature to accept the need for a functioning nation state depends on compromise, Nycole Turmel's rise should be seen as the bridge building opportunity for our country while the US is schisming needlessly.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Confessions of a Self-discovered Brony

Coming to the library today, I was expecting to have a startingly personal confession, but I'm apparently late for the party as usual as noted by today's National Post story.  Namely, I discovered this week that I'm a Brony, a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

If someone told me that I would find this old Hasbro toy property appealing in any form, I would have said that they were insane. Yet seeing this fandom, I finally got past the first episode's cutsie prologue to discover  this incredible series.  That's what happens when a series is created by an genius like Lauren Faust who cared enough to make something was once a coldly created and sexist piece of merchandizing tripe into a engaging surprise of television animation.

How did she do it? By injecting an infectious sense of humour that playfully sets you up for the usual cutsie drival like in the old 1980s animated versions, and then gloriously subverts it with the kind of intelligent gags that are not afraid to cast a jaundiced eye to the cliches. That quality is then combined with unexpectedly complex characters who will appeal to you deeply as they reveal the enthralling complexity of their personalities.

No one more exemplifies this than the Pinkie Pie character. In lesser hands, she would be simply an annoying hyperactive ditz with the squeaky voice, but the writers understand the same humour as Gracie Allen did of a character who is not stupid, but is an intelligent freespirit who sees the world in her own completely unique way and is unafraid to joyously express it. For as much as she takes getting used to in the beginning, she will enthrall you as one of a brilliant facet of this animated mosiac.

Yet, the focus heroine, Twilight Sparkle, is the perfect anchor for this series. A quiet bookish intellectual, she is the exact same appeal of Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon who rises to any occasion and crisis when called upon.  Yet the writers are unafraid to avoid this genre crippling sense of delicateness and joyfully put her  through the gauntlet of outrageous slapstick character driven comedy in the finest tradition of Looney Tunes.  Meanwhile, her companion, Spike the Dragon, is the perfect straight man for this odd series as the only recurring male character, viewing the antics around him with his own childish perspective that molds the whole show into a stunner.

With this writing, there is that beautiful flash animation that creates the brightly coloured fantasy world of MLP that is magical, but never overpowering in its intensity.  Meanwhile the music is deftly inspired with a dose of knowing confidence, especially when the songs get gleefully subverted for gutbusting laughs that know no age maximum.While the series doesn't always succeed in maintaining the crossover appeal, even the occasional exclusive kidvid shtick displayed have a special warmth to see adult viewers through until the series' sophistication returns.
In short, this series is a family show in the best sense, much like Sesame Street in its glory years where all walks of life can enjoy this magic. The Hub network certainly seems to understand as their marketing is even playing to the adult audience, eager to build their audience share with the power of the peripheral demographic.

This is the sampling:

And this is the real thing.  Get through the prologue and you'll see where this series will take you:

While Faust's departure from the series as a producer is a worrisome development, I'm hoping that the sheer audacity of this new fandom and the network's delight in profiting from this new pop culture cache will be enough to keep it going for some time to come.

And that is why I am a Brony.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

US debt and infectious frustrations

Well, the odds say that the USA will not be going into default, but it also means that the Tea Party Republican fanatics in the US Congress have gotten their way in an infuriating game of political chicken. Now, there will be a horrific slashjob of government services because of a deficit that was resolved during Bill Clinton's administration.  What changed was that George W. Bush undid that fiscal prudence with his Iraq invasion he justified with WMD lies and then was idiotic to push for tax cuts for the rich during a time of war.

I also fault President Obama in this considering that people like Bill Clinton were calling on him to invoke the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution  to nullify the whole debt ceiling and preempt this artificial immediate crisis.  It seems like this guy is so determined to be a conciliator that he refuses to see that his opponents are out for his political blood.  For instance, he had the perfect opportunity to bypass Congress to get rid of the US Military's intolerable Don't Ask Don't Tell by simply conceding to the courts' ruling against it, yet he still had the Attorney General continue to fight to keep it.

Now, the US government is going to get eviscerated against the US public's opinions because too many of the privileged in the USA are too greedy and immature to accept that taxes are the price of civilization. I shudder at what inspiration Stephen Harper might take from this debacle and inflict on Canada.  After all, when someone like him is so determined to "get tough on crime" when crime rates are going down, he clearly has no use for reality.