Apr 12, 2006

Speak Loudly

I like dialogue.

The fact that in this free society that we can converse about everything. However, dialogue works when both sides are willing to talk to each other. Cartoon Network, for some reason, refuses to be a part of dialogue when it comes to their recent programming decision of airing live-action shows. They hide behind the term "live-action cartoon" to justify airing live-action fare. Of course, there is only so many times one can use that term (which is an oxymoron like virtual reality, permanent guest host, genuine imitation, soft rock, and Microsoft Works), and the statute of limitation has expired. There's cartoony live-action, but no such thing as a live-action cartoon. I mean, they could almost get away with a Zack and Cody-like show by attaching that "live-action cartoon" label on it with a smile on their face, insulting longtime viewers everywhere.

And discussion won't help either. Why? Because while a lot of people can complain, Cartoon Network just wipes that criticism from their minds and carries on with business as they see fit.

When the animation industry at large, animation critics, anime fans who don't like American animation, American animation fans who don't like anime, Spumco fans and haters, Adult Swim fans and haters, and people who have seen networks like MTV and G4 completely deviate from the script all agree that this whole "live-action at Cartoon Network" situation is a bad, awful, horrendous idea, then gee golly, it's a bad idea. And if anybody that criticizes Cartoon Network for doing so, like our dear lead webmistress has done as pointed out by the network last month, then The Network will just give them a cookie and push them aside.

We're just viewers in their opinion.

Alan Moore once wrote that "People shouldn't fear their government. The government should fear their people." I'm not saying that Cartoon Network is a government, but they ARE a service, like the government.

Viewers like us help keep Cartoon Network on the air. We aren't completely powerless as we are assumed to be. People grow intimidated and give up before they even fight back. By fight back, I'm not talking about petitions to keep Cartoon Network animation-only or boycotting products seen on the network as a protest against their newfound policy of instituting live-action on an outlet originally perceived as an all-animation channel.

Petitions are bullscat, and boycotts only work when people truly boycott products on a wider basis.

If you're unhappy with the direction Cartoon Network is heading, contact your local cable (unless your cable operator is Time Warner Cable) and satellite operators. If you contact the network directly, chances are you're either going to get a form letter or have your response deleted from the servers, no matter if it's coherent and clear or "feeled wit teh 1337-speak ore gramatikal errorz." Tell cable operators that you unhappy with the direction of the network. If they get enough of these letters, then somewhere in their minds, they'll probably think that, geez, something is wrong at Cartoon Network.

And because Cartoon Network is at a more vulnerable position than, say, Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel (years ago, when DirecTV threatened to pull the Turner networks from their lineup, they basically pointed out that a suitable network replacement for CN is Nickelodeon), cable operators are not totally beholden to Cartoon Network.

Here, I'll get you started:

Comcast Corporation
1500 Market St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102-2148
Chairman/CEO: Mr. Brian L. Roberts
EVP/COO and President, Comcast Cable: Mr. Stephen B. Burke

Time Warner Cable
290 Harbor Dr.
Stamford, CT 06902-6732

Non-Executive Chairman (wha--?): Mr. Don Logan
Chairman/CEO: Glenn A. Britt
COO: Landel C. Hobbs

Cox Communications
1400 Lake Hearn Dr.
Atlanta, GA 30319
Chairman: Mr. James C. Kennedy
President: Mr. Patrick J. Esser

Charter Communications
12405 Powerscourt Dr., Ste. 100
St. Louis, MO 63131-3660

Chairman: Mr. Paul Allen
President/CEO/Director: Mr. Neil Smit


2230 East Imperial Hwy.
El Segundo, CA 90245
Chairman: K. Rupert Murdoch
President/CEO/Director: Chase Carey

EchoStar Communication (DISH Network)
9601 S. Meridian Blvd.
Englewood, CO 80112
Chairman/CEO: Mr. Charles W. Ergen
EVP/Director: Mr. James DeFranco

I think any discussion would be great. But in the meantime, I'll carry my megaphone (my BIGGER stick [instant kudos and much respect to anyone who gets THAT reference]).


Melon which rhymes with said...

The worst thing that could happen is CN would stop being aired or dropped from cable companies. Knowing how they don't want to talk or listen to people who truly want the network to be a success, I'm not sure asking the cable companies would make much difference. After watching so many of my favorite shows get cancelled from various networks, you realize there is no freedom in television just money.

The only way I feel like I'm making a difference is supporting people outside like independent animators, artists, and writers. People who really care about their craft and are not just in it for the money. If CN burns and crashes, their artists will find different and probably better places to work.

I know you care Jeff, but it might be a good thing if CN fails. Other networks would learn from the result. Sorry this post seems really negative. I admire your integrity to try to wake CN up.

Emperor Fred said...

And I use it too! *WHAP*

I.M. Weasel said...

Did anyone happen to catch that all last night, instead of the [adult swim] watermark, they had somthing to the degree of "crappy 80s live action show network". It was in response to one of the message board posts they recieved, and aired as a bumper, in response to their 2-week airing of (gag) Saved by the Bell.

A nice little bit of self-depricating humor to be sure, but maybe it also shows that some people at Cartoon Network aren't happy with the direction they are going?

Jorge Garrido said...

>>>Did anyone happen to catch that all last night, instead of the [adult swim] watermark, they had somthing to the degree of "crappy 80s live action show network". It was in response to one of the message board posts they recieved, and aired as a bumper, in response to their 2-week airing of (gag) Saved by the Bell.

A nice little bit of self-depricating humor to be sure, but maybe it also shows that some people at Cartoon Network aren't happy with the direction they are going?

Well, those Williams Street guys aren't the CN execs.

Jorge Garrido said...

It's from Peanuts! (the most overrated comic in hsitroy, IMO)

jh said...

Ellen: You're right, you know. Perhaps it would be better concentrating a lot of my energies on promoting the independent animation movement. Afterall, they're actually creating works worth watching and free from the constraints of "cartoons by committee." The whole business model of distribution is changing before our very eyes, but the traditional outlets still need to be preserved for the moment until the time freer outlets are more availiable to the masses.

If Cartoon Network decides they would rather be Nickelodeon than Cartoon Network, then it's their right. They're moronic for thinking so, but it's their right. I mean, I don't see Food Network showing wall-to-wall coverage of E3 next month nor The Military Channel showing the Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. I just wish that more people, particularly those that put specialty-designated networks on their services, would get on Cartoon Network a little more than they are right now.

Your post wasn't negative at all. I can certainly see your point and agree with it.

Jorge and i.m.: Yeah, those Adult Swim guys aren't to thrilled with the mandate from on high to air Saved By The Bell. It's not adult, it's not cartoony, heck, it's not even a cartoon. It deviates from everything Adult Swim supposed to represent. It would be nice if the Adult Swim folks, Williams Street Production, WERE in charge of Cartoon Network proper. They already program the highest-rated programming on the network (including the Toonami Saturday night block and the Miguzi afternoon block [yeah, AS is "separated," but everybody still knows it's on Cartoon Network]), have created partnerships with foreign and domestic companies, and have reverence for older productions (despite what they've done with the works of Alex Toth, Williams Street is the biggest supporters of classic programming, even managing to put Popeye, ToonHeads, Bob Clampett, and Gigantor on the AS lineup). They know what works, and yet, they're stuck in a warehouse down the street from the main offices. Sad.

Oh, and that line was from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon given by Yosemite Sam. Emperor Fred hit it right on the head. Peanuts was a good guess though (but it's hardly the most overrated comic strip; that honor would go to Garfield, originally made by one man, now a humorless factory-made property handled by dozens of artists).

Enoch Allen said...

I'm still glad you're writing about this shifting dynamic, Jeff. People who read you are learning, and are the smarter for it.

It suddenly occurred to me that a name change is in order for the former H-B den of heavy classic-cartoon rotation, and that I'm not the only one suggesting this. Amid Amidi was just bitching about this in a side-splitting Cartoon Brew post a week or two back. Melon's right also, in that independent animation's where it's at these days. But as long as big businesses are needed to realize creative endeavors, and as long as parents keep using the TV as a baby-sitter (not bothering to patronize other kid-friendly channels or pop in a DVD), ol' CN will keep rolling along the way it wants to roll, with us on the side of the road being onlookers.