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15 October 2007 @ 11:15 am
The Hoard Potato: Of Munks and Morons  
Of the previews currently showing in the theaters, the one that fills me with the most looming dread is the one for Alvin and the Chipmunks.

Oh, I don't dread the movie itself. It looks kinda cute.

I dread the inevitable parade of bitching and moaning from twenty- and thirty-somethings who grew up with the 1980s Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon. People grouse about how the Baby Boomers think the entire 20th Century was All About Us, but my little stars and garters, it's Gen X and Gen Y who treat their childhood mass-market pop-culture as sacred writ.

I most especially dread yet another screeching chorus of "Hollywood is Raping My Childhood!" Let's, just for a moment, set aside how obscenely inappropriate it is to trivialize the verb "rape" for something as puerile as a remake of mediocre cartoon. Instead, let's look at just why specifically inappropriate in this instance.

  1. That '80s cartoon you all remember so fondly? That was the inferior copy, compromised and sold out to better push sugar cereal and crappy toys to the kids of the day. And yeah, that's you, Mister and Ms. Rape-My-Childhood. It was clear to all of us baby boomers who cared to tune in that the '80s version was a schmaltzy, dumbed-down version of the anarchic brilliance of the original 1962 Alvin Show. They turned one of the great trickster characters into the insipid centerpiece of yet another Get Along Gang, just like every other '80s cartoon that wasn't explicitly action-adventure.*

    We were, of course, full of crap. The '60s show wasn't that great, and the '80s show wasn't that bad.

    So shut up.


  2. The new movie is being produced by Ross Bagdasarian, Jr., who is also providing the voices of Alvin and Simon -- just as he has in every recording of the characters since 1972, when his father, the creator of The Chipmunks, died. Ross, Jr. is responsible for the late '70s revival of the characters -- and for that late '80s cartoon that brought them to the attention of Generation Rape-My-Childhood.

    This guy literally grew up with these characters: "The Chipmunk Song" was recorded when he was 9. Personally, I think the reason they continue to be a steady presence in the market is because, in addition to his marketing savvy, he has a genuine and sincere affection for them, and it shows. Unlike the heirs of, say, Jim Henson, Badgasarian has a keen insight into the essence of his father's creations, and what made them successful in the first place -- in this case, a clever recording gimmick and a knack for making a buck with it.

    In other words, these characters aren't your childhood. They're his.  

    So shut up.


  3. Yes, there's scatological humor in the trailer. It's brief, perfectly in character, and surprisingly tasteful. See my note about "anarchic brilliance", above; if the cultural climate had allowed the senior Mr. Bagdasarian to include poop jokes, I suspect he might have succumbed to the temptation.

    So shut up.


  4. (Addendum, 13:52) Most importantly: you're not the target audience.

    So shut up, and let the kids enjoy their movie.



Now, I'm hardly the Chipmunks' biggest fan. Hearing the original Chipmunk Christmas Song once a year is about as much of their music as I can endure. The highest praise I can dole on either version of the cartoon is that they don't immediately force me to scream and leap for the remote if I happen to encounter them on one of the 500-odd channels the cable pumps into my living room. I almost certainly won't see this movie on the big screen, and if if I watch it on DVD, it'll be because my stepdaughter rented it for the grandspawn.

While I do respect Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. for his handling of his father's creations, and for keeping them from becoming yet another lost property of some faceless entertainment megacorp, I am not, in short, defending The Chipmunks, the upcoming movie, or Hollywood in general.

I'm just telling you Rape-My-Childhood assholes to Shut. Up.


*'80s cartoons that were explicitly action-adventure were never as good as Jonny Quest, because nobody ever got shot or threw a barrel.
 
 
I feel: irritatedirritated
I hear: Veteran of the Psychic Wars - Alvin & The Chipmunks
 
 
 
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on October 15th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Should I get off your lawn while I'm at it? };>

Actually, I honestly don't care. I watched the original in its day, when I was the target audience, because it was on and between two shows I liked better. Never did hold it very dear.

On the other hand, maybe I'm so used to seeing Disney do awful things to its own treasured earlier works that you have to work very hard to get a "rape my childhood" rant out of me these days.
Auryanne: history: odinauryanne on October 15th, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC)
Disney's the only studio that remakes old stories? Wow, that's news to me.
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on October 15th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
*rereads to see where he said they were the only ones... Nope, it's not there!*

I was thinking more of the endless stream of sequels actually, but now that you mention it, some of the remakes have been pretty bad too.
Your Obedient Serpent: Ommmathelind on October 15th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
Did you watch the original, or did you watch the '80s version, Mr. Disney Afternoon?
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on October 15th, 2007 08:52 pm (UTC)
Yes. Reruns are neat that way. };>
"And I realized I did want a drink, after all."circuit_four on October 15th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Ohhhhh, god, I'd forgotten about the Get Along Gang until you mentioned them. The same is, the original pilot, while hardly brilliant, was spirited and... actually kinda fun when I was eight years old. :) But even then, I could tell the CBS series was insipid. :(

I'm afraid I'm still pretty leery about the Chipmunks movie -- there was a certain vividness and surrealism to bad 80's cartoons, even at their most commercial and pandering, that I just don't think live action or 3D can convey very well. (Peg has probably biased me on that one. :) ) But that's pure YMMV, and I think you're raising some good points. A lot of this pop-culture purism is just people clinging to their own generation's nostalgia -- and I'm not really comfortable, myself, with how much of that nostalgia was hand-chosen for us by commercial interests.

The indignation of the "OMG SOUL RAEP" crowd is excessive -- and in those terms, it's pretty childish. It's reassuring to know Bagsadarian is involved. But it's still going to be a slickly polished corporate product -- and while that might be the true intention of the other two incarnations as well... I can't help feeling that technical and sociological limitations only let the original toons get so polished.

Again, though, YMMV. Still glad you raised the issue. n.n Ferchrissake, you're talking to somebody who originally (and incorrectly) played devil's advocate for Loonatics Unleashed. :) (It's not that it's a violation of the TRUE BUGS BUNNY CANON -- it's just a pretty bad show. :) )
Your Obedient Serpent: YAYathelind on October 15th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
A lot of this pop-culture purism is just people clinging to their own generation's nostalgia -- and I'm not really comfortable, myself, with how much of that nostalgia was hand-chosen for us by commercial interests.

Zigackly!!
SilverClawbfdragon on October 15th, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah, thats what always amuses me about these people who are so upset about having their childhood's 'raped', most of the time, they just weren't that good. And even if it was, so what? Other then when directors try and 'improve' their old films (and stop distributing the original), it's not like these new versions make the old ones worse.

Look at the recent outcry over those Loonatics or whatever. Yeah, the whole concept was over the top, and, pretty silly. Honestly, though, did it really destroy everything that was enjoyable about the classics? I have a hard time believing that it really effected anyone's enjoyment of watching them again. The really ironic part, the response probably only made it an even worse, watered down abomination.
Your Obedient Serpent: facepalmathelind on October 15th, 2007 08:50 pm (UTC)
The outcry against the (really rather stylish) character designs and the studio's response to it (removing any style whatsoever) did nothing to improve Loonatics Unleashed.
SilverClawbfdragon on October 16th, 2007 04:35 am (UTC)
That was just my point, I guess just poorly worded.
Your Obedient Serpent: Ommmathelind on October 16th, 2007 06:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't see your last sentence until after I posted.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on October 15th, 2007 08:59 pm (UTC)
It is fairly hard to realize that the things you liked as a child weren't good, you just liked them because you were a kid and had lousy taste. ;)
Araquan Skytraceraraquan on October 15th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
This much is true. I got another look at Voltron (Lion version) again recently... Suffice it to say, I won't be selling off my complete lion collection anytime soon, but... I won't be buying the DVD sets either. };>
Your Obedient Serpentathelind on October 15th, 2007 10:55 pm (UTC)
Hey, I'm a grown-up, and I STILL have lousy taste!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch HEROES.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on October 15th, 2007 10:58 pm (UTC)
No, no, I never said Heroes was bad. I said it was racist and sexist. Sheesh. ;)
Terminotaur: Totter deviousterminotaur on October 15th, 2007 10:09 pm (UTC)
Hehehe, I guess I'd fall into this category, though I could care less one way or the other about remakes, and I never was a fan of this one particular cartoon.

Every time I hear the "raping my childhood" argument I can't help but think this is the equivalent of saying "back in MY day this was so much better". I'd not put it down to a boomer, gen X, or gen Y thing, just a human thing.

I think similar to what someone else here said, people have to realize that THEY CHANGED. They aren't 10 years old now, and when they were what they considered good dialog and plot were very different to today. It doesn't mean they can't see those old shows and not feel something, but they're forgiving a whole lot for familiarity. And I admit I do it too, but at least I don't go off on the new versions. They are what they are.

And really, how many of those cartoons were 30min commercials for the toy lines that were ready to go before the show even hit the air?

The people crying "childhood rape" now I think are moving down the path suggested by one comedy writer who said that things weren't better back then, just the brain cells that remembered the bad parts died off. Complete brain death is called nostalgia.
The Red Alchemist: Deviousjirris_midvale on October 15th, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
Any sort of 'oh god, my childhood!' reaction has been beaten out of my by experiencing the things that made up my childhood. Thundercats.. oh god.

On the bright side legos are still cool, many old nintendo games are still quite good (and damn hard), and I harbor so much love for 80's new wave music.
SilverClawbfdragon on October 16th, 2007 04:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's funny how DVD releases and YouTube have probably done more to destroy nostalgia then bad rehashes ever could.
atomicdumbass on October 15th, 2007 11:55 pm (UTC)
As a gen-x person, I have to work with Thundercats and Transformers people.

There is no way to make them be still, though they don't like it when you call them "Trannies," and they really hate it when you point out that Lion-O looks like Ronald Mac Donald. He seriously does.
Paul Gadzikowskiscarfman on October 16th, 2007 01:34 am (UTC)

Added to memories.

Stalbonstalbon on October 16th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, I'm one of the bitches who moans about such a thing...but it wasn't just that a new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie was going to be made...it's that the preview poster looked...bad. They've got Alvin's look down pat, but why do Simon and Theodore look like his gangsta buddies? I realize one of the originals is creating this film, but I'm scared that it'll be another lame children's film that tends to focus more on potty humor than real fun. Here's hoping it isn't.
A.R.M.: I want a hula hoopkinkyturtle on June 20th, 2008 05:50 am (UTC)
8 months after the fact, KT buys the DVD and...