Thursday, June 23, 2005

bad boys

For some odd reason, I've been thinking about the villains of the old cartoons I used to watch as a kid. Most of them are terribly written, in retrospect, but what you can count on is knowing that they have a master scheme and understanding what they wanted in the first place.

Or can you? Is it obvious?

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What did Gargamel want to do with the Smurfs? Some say he wanted to eat them. But really, he wanted to turn them into gold. Or it could all be socio-political commentary, with the Smurf Village as a Marxist Utopia. He and his cat, Azrael, didn't seem to do much, but we forget his moment of brilliance - the creation of Smurfette.

I'll let Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko speak, complete with his risque commentary:
First of all, Papa Smurf didn't create Smurfette. Gargamel did. She was sent in as Gargamel's evil spy with the intention of destroying the Smurf village, but the overwhelming goodness of the Smurf way of life transformed her. And as for the whole gang-bang scenario, it just couldn't happen. Smurfs are asexual. They don't even have reproductive organs under those little white pants. That's what's so illogical, you know, about being a Smurf. What's the point of living if you don't have a dick?

Ultimately, Smurfette - a golem of Gargamel - joined the blue guys and betrayed her master (to the seeming chagrin of Vanity Smurf). What I do not know is what ultimately happened to Gargamel?

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Skeletor, the foe of He-Man, wanted Castle Grayskull - I suppose for the secrets and powers that it held. I'm not sure. What I do know is that Skeletor had it worse than his compatriot Hordak, the archfoe of She-ra. Hordak had already won and was ruler of that world, with the princess in the role of the rebel, fighting against the status quo.

What was Skeletor's motivation? Says Philip Michaels :
What was Skeletor really after? Power, riches, fame? Well if that's a crime, then maybe we're all mortal enemies of He-Man. All Skeletor wanted is the things we all want -- to make a name for himself and to find his own particular niche in this crazy, knockabout world. Maybe his methods are a little extreme. Maybe he cuts a few corners here and there. Maybe he's summoned the forces of Evil to aid him in his quest. But Skeletor wasn't born into a life of luxury and privilege like He-Man. He didn't grow up with the Power of Greyskull at his beck and call. He didn't have Man-At-Arms and BattleCat to do his dirty work. He didn't have the support of a good woman like She-Ra. All Skeletor had was Skeletor -- and he did the best he could do.

Was Skeletor, at his bony core, truly an exemplar of the everyman?

By the way, I've ignored the newish version of this cartoon with its all-too-in-vogue anime look. However, I was told that Skeletor's fleshy origin (!) was shown there. Can anyone elucidate?

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Poor Venger. This arch-villain of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon had the potential to be really kick ass, but somehow fizzled along the way.

What did Venger want? "Give me your weapons!" Was that all he wanted? To fight Tiamat? To escape the realms? The powers of Dungeon Master?

It was never revealed, as far as I know, because the series ceased to air before the final episode was produced. But "Requiem", the final script, is quite revealing. "I'm your father." Yes, it's true.

Let me digress and say I absolutely hated the mix of protagonists and the character classes they represented. A Cavalier without a weapon. A goody-goody Ranger. A Thief who rarely does anything. A token African-American Acrobat (Acrobat? Acrobat? Come on!). A child Barbarian. And a magic-user who pulls things out of his hat. It was so sanitized and so unlike the game I ran and played that I rooted for the Forces of Evil (different from Skeletor's Forces of Evil, mind you). The best episode? I think it was called "The Dragon's Graveyard", when Venger actually got their weapons.

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And Zoltar (or Galactor, to some) with his distressing lipstick.

It was not a matter of what he wanted, but what he needed.

A drastic makeover.

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