a small rant about butch
Now that I’m doing the compulsive blogging thing I wondered if I might need a little boost in my material, you know something with a bit more weight, like the other day being World AIDS Days and a reminder that December is AIDS Awareness Month. Because the planet is really doomed if things keep up the way they are- but then I turned on NICKELODEON and Danny Phantom is on and I decided that I’d rather talk about that.
Nick is a station that I, and I guess a lot of modern animation fans have issues with. I have some great memories of them launching NICKTOONS, and shows like DOUG, AHHH REAL MONSTERS and ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE. So, loyalty? I guess it’s totally a nostalgia thing, and appreciation for how the channel emerged, as an effort to elevate programming for kids and making them aware of a World culture and current events. Today they still seem to do a bit to keep kids from being just brainless zombies, but then at the same time they pump in some of the most vile and evil programming ever. Plus, the history Viacom has had with their writers and residuals, (notably to the creators of ANGRY BEAVERS and INVADER ZIM), it keeps me pretty peeved. Then they produce slick stuff like SPONGEBOB, FAIRLY ODDPARENTS and DANNY PHANTOM (both of which created by Butch Hartman and crewed by a lot of former ZIM people), that have some fairly mature comedy and a nice touch of postmodern absurdness that I can’t get enough of. So I end up watching, but I’m just all sorts of conflicted.
Whether Butch just knows how to play by the rules, or whatever I quite enjoy the irreverent charm of both ODDPARENTS and PHANTOM. Butch & Co have produced an amazing library of episodes, specials and merch in the short amount of time it’s been around. (Another trait they share with Spongebob, which seems to infer the potential any show has when Nick puts it’s full force and proper treatment behind it). The popularity is enough that it almost sets me against it, but every time I watch, I always enjoy, so I sally forth. It’s enough to make me curious about the guy responsible for all this, namely Butch, but unfortunately animation creators don’t get the same biographical treatment as former presidents and murdering-celebrities. Butch is from MI, has done some tv, and got into animation in the 80’s with MY LITTLE PONY! He’s married, kids, all that worthwhile existence stuff, and his work shows he has a great appreciation for animation, film, comics, and pop culture in general. If that’s not enough, he’s a very very active producer/creator, always doing promos and bumps for Nick, and any time they’re up for a sweeps event or tie in, Butch is first to jump in front of the camera. In comparison, I couldn’t dig up much about SPONGEBOB creator Stephen Hillenburg. There’s obviously a different approach to both. Butch’s extensive website and forums, and such really just heighten the perception that he’s just all about that hustle. I guess you can’t fault him for that. For someone whose real name is Elmer, and seemed predestined to get into animation, he’s done a fine job and made a crapload of cash in the process. Now give Cosmo his own talk show format series and no one gets hurt.
Cosmo: Don’t forget the rabies! Everything tastes better with rabies!