|This is the same company that put out The Powerpuff Girls.|
...the f**k happened?
If you are unfamiliar with who Paul Dini is (shame on you, by the way) he is the co-creator along with Bruce Timm, of Batman: The Animated Series which is still today considered by a great many people to be the best cartoon ever made. Understand that Dini is a pretty big deal when it comes to children’s television. So anyway a while ago Dini appeared on film director/giant nerd Kevin Smith’s podcast “Fatman on Batman” to talk about Batman. Somewhere during the two part interview Smith goes on a rant about how much he loves the new cartoon Beware the Batman, which Dini has nothing to do with but Smith points out that when the show gets going it’s the only Batman show to match the level of depth of BM:TAS. Then Dini destroys Smith’s life by informing him that Cartoon Network had removed it from the schedule and would probably end up canceling it if it hasn’t been canceled already. And indeed the show was put on hiatus back in October and as of this writing it has yet to have a solid return date (they said January but January is almost over) and have offered up no explanation. But Dini has an idea of what the problem is.
Now you can listen to the podcast yourself here (this stuff starts around 38 to 41 minutes in) but I will summarize: companies like Cartoon Network cancel or otherwise don’t renew deep, arc driven shows like Beware the Batman because they attract the wrong demographic; families and girls. But they only want certain shows to be watched by young boys.
Let me repeat his: Cartoon Network has possibly self-sabotaged and canceled their shows because they attracted too large of a female audience. That is one of the most f**ked up things I’ve ever heard.
More ranting, swearing, and screaming after the jump.
|"This is a pretty deep cartoon....better cancel it."|
WHAT THE HELL?!?!
Of course the concept of measuring a show by how much money you can make by selling merchandise rather than its quality is super evil and one of the worsts examples of the capitalist society we live in but I’m going try very hard not to focus on this point not because it’s unimportant, and believe me if there’s one sure sign that our society is a pile of horseshit it’s this, but because the big injustice I want to discuss is this blatant act of discrimination on Cartoon Network’s part.
Dini mentioned Young Justice in his conversation which is a fine point to examine. So Young Justice was a cartoon that ran on Cartoon Network starring several DC Comics characters. I talk about the show here and here. Long story short it’s a far more serious successor of the Teen Titans cartoon from the 2000s. However the show was mysteriously taken off the air in late 2012 the same way Beware the Batman was taken off last fall. There was no explanation, just silence until finally the company announced the show would be canceled with the remaining episodes to be released at some point later in the year. The show was replaced in the timeslot by Teen Titans Go!, a comedy cartoon that focuses on super deformed versions of the Teen Titans eating pizza and dicking around rather than having complex characters and storylines like Young Justice did. And I will be the first to admit that I didn’t love Young Justice at all but Teen Titans Go! is so stupid that I suspect it lowers children’s brain cell count. Why the replacement? Dini suspects that the show represents the type of humor and quality that young boys enjoy, at least in the networks estimation. Basically “young boys are stupid so let’s cancel the smart shows and replace them with dumber ones so the boys will relate better.” And then those boys buy the toys and executives at Cartoon Network celebrate on a mountain of hundred dollar bills and cocaine. Allegedly.
|No sir. No sir, I don't like it.|
So Tower Prep was a live action show on Cartoon Network that, as far as I could tell, was like a kids' version of The Prisoner. I never saw it mainly because why the f**k is there live action on Cartoon Network but as I understand it very arc heavy with fairly complex storytelling. Dini speculated that the show was not renewed by CN because its audience was made up of so many female viewers. In fact they had the plug pulled before they could even get the merchandise rolling; CN had simply deiced to kill it before it had a chance because it had the wrong demographic, at least according to Dini. They would replace this show with another live action series called Level Up which apparently was not as smartly written. In essences it was dumbed down to be full of silly immature humor that appeals to young boys. Level Up has since been cancelled. So Dini’s point is that what happened to his show seemed to be what he thought was going on with Young Justice and a host of other shows and what may be going on with Beware the Batman.
|To be fair at least one of these folks was, like, thirty years old|
For the purposes of this article let’s assume Paul Dini is 100% correct in his assessment and Cartoon Network is a only interested in the bottom line for toy sales and consider heavy storyline based shows and female audiences to be detrimental to that goal and have been like this for, oh, let’s say “many years”. This would explain a great deal of strange cancelations over the years. There’s Young Justice, of course, and also Green Lantern: The Animated Series which was canceled around the same time as YJ (and I heard it had gotten pretty darn good) but what about the Thundercats remake which everyone I know who watched it thought it was fantastic? Or Sym-Bionic Titan which I strongly believed was the best new show Cartoon Network had put out in decades? Both were also very arc driven, character focused shows that were moved around the schedule until they were quietly cancelled. Plus there were rumors that Titan’s cancelation was linked to something to do with a lack of faith in toy production. Could it be that at least part of the reason those shows were shit canned was because not enough young boys were pissing themselves over it and thus toy sale projections weren’t high enough? And also is that why garbage like Johnny Test and The Annoying Orange pollute the television? Because they have that random humor that those little boys love so much?
Oh my God…I never really thought about it until right this second but I live in a world where Sym-Bionic Titan was canceled after one season while the abomination known as “Johnny Test” has been renewed for an upcoming seventh season. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-
|Emergency Shut Down Due to Rage|
|"No penis, no action figures."|
So is there no hope then? If the networks have already made up their minds and don’t seem to be interested in changing is there anything we can do other than rolling up on Cartoon Network Studios and torching that mother f@#$er to the ground? (Let’s table that for a possible “Plan B”) There are some signs that things could be turning for the better. When it comes to a show that missed its mark with its intended target demographic there’s no better example than My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic which, despite being made for young girls, gained a vocal following of young adult males in its fanbase. The parent company Hasbro has taken this in stride and have been pretty receptive to this for the most part as it’s pretty clear that these guys will buy merch and money is money no matter where it’s coming from; a lesson Cartoon Network could learn. Also The Legend of Korra, the sequel to Avatar: the Last Airbender, stars a strong female lead, is very arc and character driven and is still a highly critical success for Nickelodeon with a wide variety of viewers form many different demographics (the creators have stated that they had to fight extremely hard to have its female lead). CN’s newest show, Steven Universe, is another example of blurring the lines between what boys and girls want; the show stars a boy and the humor can be a bit dumb and random but the show’s overall tone is at least partly reminiscent of shows such as Sailor Moon and Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders due to the nature of Steven’s friends and mentors the Crystal Gems. I’m 100% certain this was intentional on the part of show's creator Rebecca Sugar. Right now I think it’s too soon to tell what ramifications to the overall paradigm this new series will have, if any, but it seems to me that not everything is terrible when it comes to cartoons that all of us can equally enjoy.
|Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl.|
Thanks for reading that mountain of a essay. And thank you for reading Beta is Dead for the last four years! I love you all! (Also R.I.P. Sym-Bionic Titan)