Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Animated Cartoons are all about "Ass Play"

If you've never noticed, animated cartoons are all about "ass play".

The hips and buttocks play a central role in defining the overall gesture and movement of many characters. The way Bugs Bunny's butt sticks out borders on "presenting". (See The Sherman Foundation post on Fashion And Display Behavior.)

The older Looney Tunes cartoons are the best and richest examples of the subtle and pervasive featuring of butts and "ass play".

When characters take on a different persona, pants/shorts/skirts often play a central role in defining that characterization. Much of the slapstick humor in cartoons involves abusing a character's tail and characters being hit in the ass with something.

In contemporary cartoons the ass is celebrated and used overly in comedic gags.

Leave it to the Simpson's not to be subtle about the appearance of a butt.

If you want to see Bugs Bunny's penis Click here!

On Melodrama: TV is all about "Making Faces"

I don't watch much TV, I watch lots of films but not very many television programs. Far less than I should given my work and interest in media, culture and pop-culture. One of the benefits of watching little TV is that when I do, I am overwhelmingly struck by the characteristics and exaggerated characteristics of the television program format.

In the past month I strayed way outside of my comfort zone and watched Survivor (I never watch reality TV), CSI Miami and the final episode of Lost. What really stood out for me is how much TV is about people "making faces" at one another and by extension the viewer. In the final episode of Lost most scenes end with a close-up and hold on an actor making a dramatic face into the camera. Most scenes "procedurals" like CSI Miami are loaded with shots of actors making dramatic faces.

What would an episode of CSI Miami be like if all of the frames that included dialog were edited out? (This would be the most interesting way to reveal the melodramatic "face-making".)

If I shortened the long, dramatic shots on actors making faces in CSI Miami I wonder how much it would shorten the episode?

It would be fun to storyboard out the close-ups on faces in each episode of a full season of CSI Miami and look at them side-by-side.

Answers.com defines Melodrama as:
1a. A drama, such as a play, film, or television program, characterized by exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters, and interpersonal conflicts.
1b. The dramatic genre characterized by this treatment.
2a. Behavior or occurrences having melodramatic characteristics.

Violence and over-sexualization in media get a lot of attention, but what is completely overlooked is melodrama. In addition to "face-making" I would include "attitude" and "posturing" as expressions of melodrama in television shows. I speculate whether Melodrama is to blame for increasing sarcastic and snarky behavior exhibited in society. The kind of behavior recast in shows like Glee and iCarly).

The rise of reality television makes perfect sense if you see it as a purer and more raw expression of melodrama (stereotypical characters, interpersonal conflict and exaggerated emotion). The overly drawn-out scenes in reality programs when contestants are being eliminated are filled with dramatic "face-making" shots.

Final thoughts on television.
I don't believe that televisions are devices for transmitting and receiving moving images and sound. That definition makes sense if you look at the object in the room. If you examine process, a more accurate way of defining television is: a device for eliciting patterns of emotional response from human beings. People look at television in order to go on an emotional thrill-ride filled with ups, downs and loop-de-loops. (Given how bad most of the writing is it can't possibly be about narrative and telling stories.)

"The face" of melodrama.
If I had to "put a face on" Melodrama it would most certainly have to go to actor David Caruso (Horatio Caine on CSI Miami). No one hams it up like David.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Life's Sweet Ironies: Cancer Causing Sun Screens

As it turns out, sunscreen products may be cancer accelerants. Lab animals coated in a vitamin A-laced cream developed tumors and lesions up to 21 percent faster than animals treated with a vitamin-free cream. Only 39 of the 500 products tested were considered safe and effective to use.

Via AOL News: Study: Many Sunscreens May Be Accelerating Cancer
WASHINGTON (May 24) -- Almost half of the 500 most popular sunscreen products may actually increase the speed at which malignant cells develop and spread skin cancer because they contain vitamin A or its derivatives, according to an evaluation of those products released today.

AOL News also has learned through documents and interviews that the Food and Drug Administration has known of the potential danger for as long as a decade without alerting the public, which the FDA denies.