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Cartoon Graveyard: El Cementerio De Animación

September 3, 2009

cartoongraveyard

The other day my friend and colleague Sarah told the Squelch crew something a professor had posited: that a movie can be considered misogynist if it lacks scenes of female characters talking with each other in the absence of a male character. We could see the logic of this, but wondered whether it might be an overly harsh standard, damning fine movies like Casablanca and Stalag 17, which fall short of the mark simply due to their having less than two female characters to begin with or some other plot issue. It was a fun discussion, and the reason I bring it up is that I’m about to up the ante. Because this week we go south of the border to discover a cartoon series so blatantly misogynistic that anything less than it is sexist at best. In fact, I knew this before watching it. How did I accomplish this amazing feat, you ask with eyes wide in shock and admiration? By virtue of three little, soul-crushing words: “Sponsored By AXE.”

Mark of the Beast, lower right corner.

Mark of the Beast, lower right corner.

Yes, the Unilever brand best known for commercials in which attractive women inexplicably have sex with doofuses took the leap into a full-fledged television show about attractive women inexplicably having sex with only one doofus. The twist: they did it in Argentina.

Title: City Hunters
Network: FOX, ¡pero en Argentina!
Premise: Dude learns how to seduce women. Well, not women exactly. Drawings of women, anyway.

Remember Texaco Star Theater? No? How about General Electric Theater? Well, if you do, you’re either old, awesome, or the ghost of Ronald Reagan, in which case quit haunting me or I’ll have the ghost of Gregory Peck beat you up again. Those shows were examples of branded entertainment, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a single company sponsors a TV show or radio show or what-have-you for the purposes of advertising. Usually such an arrangement doesn’t entail pushing the sponsor’s product openly, but using it occasionally and not doing anything to cause people to associate negative things with it. Nowadays TV shows have lots of sponsors, so what we have here is a throwback to the old ways. And I’ll say this for it: at no point do any characters actually coat themselves in foul-smelling chemicals in a desperate attempt to disguise their crippling sexual insecurities and/or sweat. But the spirit is there.

The series, whose limitation to a nine-episode run is evidence of the existence of a merciful deity, opened with our – well, not “hero,” let’s say “protagonist” – being dumped by his girlfriend. This is expressed by a bewildering cold-open visual metaphor involving literal armies of women using weapons with breakup lines scrawled on them to blow up an office building filled with copies of the guy, which turns out to represent his heart. Then they just show the breakup itself anyway. So, backstory established, Axel (nyuk, nyuk) gets plastered and wanders around, only to be run down by speeding sex god Dr. Lynch (British equivalent of nyuk, nyuk) who decides to instruct the young man in the ways of debauchery. Turns out the good doctor belongs to Lodge X, a super-secret organization in the Dan Brown mold dedicated to “the study of women.” Now, ordinarily I’d say the concept of a secretive group whose preening about heritage and honor is just a front for getting laid was a fine joke, but we already have fraternities. And just to cleanse the palate, drive the point home, and mix the metaphors, here’s a similar joke made by a much better show.

Oddly enough, City Hunters ran in the same block as The Simpsons, Futurama, and their animated brethren on Argentinian FOX. I doubt it benefited from the comparison. Anyhow, I’d elaborate on the plotline of the show, but there isn’t anything to elaborate. That’s it. Guy learns how to get laid, then proceeds to do so with a succession of caricatures of different kinds of women, all helpfully summed up at the beginning of the show: “Teaser.” “Man-Eater.” “Dog.” Oh, the sensitivity! Plus, there’s jokes about men being horny and things from the ‘70s not being as culturally relevant today, which you’d think someone would have covered by now. Here’s the second episode, only ten minutes long for some reason. I dare you to watch the first minute without cringing. I DARE YOU!

If you took my challenge, you noticed that the show is actually voiced in English and subtitled in Spanish. Why one would choose this course of action in a country noted for using Spanish kind of a lot is a mystery. But hey, far be it from me to second-guess the decisions of the good people at AXE Attractions. So there you have it. Many people worked long hours to produce a series of animated vignettes about some guy getting laid. People drew pictures for this. They animated them. They wrote (awful) dialogue. They used computer animation for really stupid things. All so the good people of Argentina could be encouraged to spray themselves with chemicals more often. So the next time you bemoan the state of American culture and the idiocy spewed from the latest inane television sensation, stop and think for a moment and be glad you’re not in Argentina a couple years ago. ¡Viva la televisión de los Estados Unidos!

Final Judgment: “Branded entertainment” is the worst thing. Just the worst thing. Jesus Christ.

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2 comments

  1. The way I heard it is that the test you’re referring to is used to determine whether a movie is genuinely feminist (rather than whether it is not misogynist), and the test is whether there is a scene where two women talk to each other and their conversation is not about men.


  2. “Hi:

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    The Best Shows Youre Not Watching (dot) com [all one word]

    ‘The Clone Wars’ is one of our featured shows. We’re hoping to round up a few people who can occasionally contribute perspective (via an article/blog) on the shows – maybe a recent episode, future direction, plot shortcomings etc.

    What’s in it for you?
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