Blog 2020

Product and Process

As a member of the Transformers fandom, there’s an ongoing debate in the community.  And it is by no means isolated to this community, but it is the debate of inherent quality versus nostalgic quality.  That is, is a given work of art (show, comic, toy, etc) good on its own merits or good merely as an artifact of nostalgia.

If we compare the original 1984 cartoon (‘Generation One’) to most of the modern shows, G1 pales in comparison.  If we compare animation quality, the modern shows are vastly superior excepting a few episodes (and usually then, just specific sequences).  Narrative, plot, and character elements are invariably subpar in the older works.  Acting can go either way, depending on the show, the episode, the character, etc.  This leads people to say things like ‘Gen-1 isn’t that good except for the nostalgia’.

So? Continue reading

Blog 2020

Dollars and Sense

“You’re worth more than what you can give to other people”
– Mara, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

That line’s gotten lost in a lot of the hoopla surrounding She-Ra, and not without reason.  A singular line, no matter how good, can get lost in a powerful scene, in a powerful episode, of one of the best well-written and beloved TV series in the last year.  I stand by my previous assertion that She-Ra and the Princesses of Power will go down as one of the best cartoons ever, full-stop.  I have little doubt it will be remembered along with Avatar the Last Airbender, Batman the Animated Series, GI Joe: Real American Hero, Super Friends, and Speed Racer.

But this little kernel of brilliance really deserves some evaluation on its own, independent of the scene that showcased it.  I’ve been fixated on it since it was utter because I feel like there’s something strangely prescient here, relevant to today’s world. Continue reading

Blog 2020

Just King or Just a King?

I was introduced to the Chinese philosopher Mencius in college.  Living a century or two after Confucius, he’s largely lost in the conversation about philosophy.  I’d like him to Tommy James and the Shondells and how they’re largely lost in the conversation about 1970s rock ‘n roll.  But I digress.

The only thing that really stuck with me over the years about Mencius was his claim that ‘there was no such thing as an unjust king’.  He argued that you could a king – who was just, by virtue of being king – or you had a man pretending to be king.  If a person was unjust, they were immediately and instantly ‘no longer a king’.  It both complicates and simplifies issues of loyalty to the thrown and matters of conflict to justice.  One can never be put in a position to choose to be loyalty to a king or to justice, because the two can never conflict.  If they do, an act is not actually just, or the man is not actually a king. Continue reading