A blog about LGBT characters in mass media.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Buffalo Gals won't you come out tonight?

Anybody else remember Cow and Chicken? It's a bizarre cartoon from the late nineties that sprung from a anti smoking short featured on the What A Cartoon cavalcade, a format that launched many fan favorites including Johnny Bravo, Dexter's Lab and the sketch that would later evolve into Family Guy.
The show itself is littered with double entendres, absurdist humor and was no stranger to the odd controversy. There have been a few Cartoon Network produced shows with banned episodes in the past, including a famous episode of Power Puff Girls in which they fight a communism spreading gnome, yes, that is a thing and even several episodes of Adventure Time have received bans and heavy edits in certain country's.
But years before that Cow and Chicken set the benchmark with a banned episode with a premise that flew right over my head as a kid, it's about a gang of bikers, all female, that burst into your house and eat your carpet. 

You got it? Right? Yup, lesbian biker gang. Is it funny? Not really. Is it something the kids will understand?  *shrugs* I didn't as a kid. Is it worthy of it's ban? Lets delve into the thick of it and you can decide for yourself.

The episode starts with the characters having breakfast just as the Buffalo Gals, a gang of short haired, muscular  female bikers burst in the door and get to work, eating carpet. 
Cow then approaches one of the bikers and asks who they are, referring to a biker as 'sir' and after a brief exchange Cow is given a calling card from one of the bikers called 'Munch Kelly', the card also featuring two female Venus symbols. Cow then ventures out on her tricycle to join the gang at a flaming fortress in the woods, they then proceed to sing sing the song of their name sake and frequently repeat the line 'come out tonight'.
After Chicken is discovered spying on the group for Cows safety the group declare in chorus 'we hate chicken' and the proceed to use Chicken as the ball in a game of baseball, a scene I'm sure is just there so they can make a terrible pitcher and catcher joke as well as the double bagger gag. After Cow attacks the gang in her Super Cow disguise in an effort to save chicken the episode ends abruptly when she flies out of scene and another recurring character, The Red Guy (a naked devil), reveals that there is a moral to this story, but it's a secret.

So yeah, that's six minutes and fifty two seconds of Cow and Chicken in a nutshell, do they ever outrightly state that the Buffalo Gals are lesbians? Well no, but they throw enough stereotypes in there to drown a Michael Bay movie and I'm pretty sure the hating Chicken thing is either a reference to the hating men stereotype or the hating cock(rel) stereotype, but that's for you to decide.
You can still find the episode on YouTube if you look hard enough, I definitely wouldn't recommend it for the younglings. If I was a parent I certainly wouldn't want to cloud kids minds with these offensive stereotypes and gags, but it is an interesting example of what used to be able to get past the Cartoon Network quality control back in the day. 
Be sure to come back next week when we dive into the story one of my personal favorite characters, Robert Kirkman's Monster Girl.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Birdo, lost in translation.

Birdo, Birdo, Birdo, what can I say about Birdo, uhhh, Ostro, no wait Catherine, or is it Birdetta? Well either way, what can I say that hasn't already been said? Well not much but that's not going to stop me cracking open this can of worms and telling all you fine folks at home the strange tale of a pink dinosaur with a twenty six year spanning identity crisis.

From go-karting to egg based warfare Birdo has been a returning character in the Mario universe since 1987, orginally there were multiple Birdos in the universe until she was identified as an individual in the Mario spin off titles much in the same way as Yoshi and Toad. Birdo first appeared as a boss and wandering enemy in Doki Doki Panic, the game that would later be re-skinned as Super Mario Bros 2. Birdo's entry in the Super Mario Bros 2 manual appears as follows: ''He thinks he is a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth. He'd rather be called Birdetta'', though this is often omitted. The Japanese trailer for the game even has her speaking with a masculine voice and acting foppishly while she sits on a coach with a rather flamboyant feather boa, it gives her the air of a (and I really do hate this term) drag queen. 


'But Abi!' I hear you cry, 'Birdo shoots eggs! How could she not be a girl?' To which I say YOSHI! Mario's trusted, male, egg laying stead. Heck I'm not even sure Nintendo understands how egg laying works, Birdo shoots them out her face and Yoshi can even eat himself into an egg, anyway....
In later games Birdo was voiced with a sequence of horn like noises and depending on which game you play these are either deep or high pitched, she even varies from low tones when calm and high pitched when angry in certain games, which added to the air of mystery. A trophy in Smash Bros Brawl lists Birdo as ''a creature of indeterminate gender'' and uses the pronoun 'it'. 

''A pink creature of indeterminate gender that some say would rather be called Birdetta. A big ribbon on its head is its most distinguishing feature. In Super Mario Bros. 2, you can return fire on Birdo by jumping on the eggs shot from its mouth. Be careful not to get psyched out by fake-egg fireballs!''

The UK version of the Mario Strikers website repeatedly refers to Birdo with male pronouns but ask Nintendo America and Nintendo of Europe and shes a girl . A confusing case indeed, Birdo's gender keeps flip flopping between titles and translations but after a rather bizarre quest in the Japan exclusive game title, Captain Rainbow, Birdo's identity as a proud transgender character was backed up with the presence of the *cough* mystery vibrating quest item titled as ''proof that the owner is a woman'', which is found in her house, under a pillow. 

So, how should you address Birdo in the future? Well any practicing transvestite or transgender woman will tell you, myself included, female pronouns all the way. With the makeup, mannerisms and her incredibly flirtatious attitude I have no doubt in my mind Birdo is a fully qualified girly girly, even if her voice does change more often then a puberty stricken teenage boy. 
So next time you're playing Mario Tennis why not pick our darling dinosaur, she's a unique character and sure to bring more fun to the table then that plain old Koopa Troopa. 

I make no copyright claim on any of the images or videos used in this article, this blog is 100% fan warbling and all images and videos within are used without prior consent because I am a cheeky so and so.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

My Little Pony, clonies are magic.

Yup, that's right! My Little Pony Friendship is Magic. You have heard of it right? If not, welcome to the internet, we have pictures of cats.
Anywho, lets start with Caramel. Caramel is one of the hundreds of background ponies seen throughout the series, appearing as Chance-a-Lot in the official merchandise, his first speaking role being in  The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, I think, does he speak in Winter Wrap Up? Either way that's kind of irrelevant, as much as I could wax lyrical on the all these little titbits I think it's time we got to the meat of the issue.
Caramel appears to change gender between seasons, yes really. Take a look at this convenient JPG=

But what is this really? It's one hundred percent pure fanon and while I love the idea this is clearly and instance of clonie-ism. What's a clonie? A clone pony of course! Animation usually requires a few short cuts to keep the budget low, Mallet Space, The Flintstones repeating backgrounds, the Hanna Barbera neck tie, and one of the many tricks up the DHX teams sleeve is repeated ponies, clonies. Got it? Good. Apparently they use a random generator to pick the characters colours and a cutie mark (that tattoo on their backside), there is also a few repeating characters like Lyra, Bon Bon, Colgate, Time Turner, Derpy Hooves and Berry punch who appear in the background frequently, often multiple times in the same scene, but have become firm fan favorites.
So yeah, nothing but fannon, another little smidge of over analyzing from the Brony community.

But does the show present any sort of pro LGBT values or play with any gender tropes? Not really, but not in a malicious way, it's just not addressed directly, regardless of what people will tell you about Rainbow Dash. But the show does function on a marvelously feminist level.
The main (mane) six characters, all female, function somewhat realistically for a cartoon, truly relatable emotional highs and lows, fun character interplay and heck even the fashionista Rarity (my personal favorite) has to work hard to achieve her goals, a far cry from the Barbie and Bratz 'flaunt it if you got it' instant gratification mentality that seeps into young girls television like an oozing mold.

Even after Shining Armour, a far more stereotypical strong male archetype is introduced at the end of season two the girls are still kicking butt and taking names, regardless of if they are talking the enemy down, kicking a dragon in the face or using the collective forces of friendship to magic blast their enemies into submission. Surprisingly Shining Armour doesn't turn up to save the day with burly manliness, instead he and Princess Cadance save the day against impossible odds using the power of love (yes really) and not resorting to violence.
I love this show, it honestly deserves its ravenous fandom and it really champions the idea that we are all awesome, all have a purpose and we are accepted for who we are and viewed as equals. Honestly, that's the idea isn't it? Acceptance? Equality?
Check the show out if you get a chance, I recommend 'Dog and Pony Show' as a fun place to dive in. Sorry this article isn't longer, I really could go on for a while but I feel that I'm already spinning it circles.

Oh, also, before I go I feel I would be amiss if I didn't mention this, the spa ponies, Lotus and Aloe share the same colours as the transgender flag, again, it means absolutely nothing in the show and has no real relevance to anything, it's just kind of neat.

Oh and one last itty bitty thing, this clip from the season three episode Magic Duel, but I will let you watch the full episode for context, I'm going to go before I shower you with extra random clips, come back next week for more nonsensical ramblings.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Neither Boy nor Girl, an interesting, if shallow, romp in space.

''We asked your Mom, at least I think he was your Mom.''- Kurt Blobberts

'Neither Boy nor Girl' is an episode that appears late into the rather average Disney channel cartoon, Lloyd in space, a four season long series about a high school in space populated my a melange of alien species. While the show features the standard group of male protagonists, our 'hero' Lloyd, the big dumb kid, the shrimpy brainy kid (in this case literally a brain) and the average every kid, this episode bucks the trend of high school antics in space with an episode in which the boys feud with a group of young girls over the identity of a genderless purple blob child named Zoit. Not your standard TV fair but then again if it was we wouldn't be here would we?

The episode begins with an argument between the male protagonists and their arch foes, the girls *bom bom bom!* over which of two bands are better, a generic space themed metal group and an equally generic female folk singer, with the fight undecided they look for an independent adjudicator to decide the victor. Thus enters Zoit, our spotlight character, who gives them a surprisingly fair answer, denoting the value in both bands leaving the two groups rather confused. After leaving the table the groups begin to argue over if 'she' was right, the boys reply with confusion believing Zoit to be a boy. After several chase scenes with both groups looking for any signs of gender identity from Zoit they come up empty because Zoit exhibits traits equally stereotypically feminine and masculine, finally the collective group of boys and girls give in and ask Zoit about his/her identity.

Zoit reveals his/herself to be a Predilicon, a species that is neither a boy nor a girl until their thirteenth birthday at which point they choose which gender they become.
I love this idea, but what it leads to, well that's another story.

Kids cartoons often tone things down a notch too far in an attempt to appeal to their intended audience, which is exactly what they did. While this could have been an interesting discussion on gender identity this episode wallows in a very shallow idea pool as both gender groups bombard Zoit with very stereotyped ideas, boys are great because they can watch action movies and love them, girls are great because they can dress up and enjoy fashion.  Bull shit, they could have had fun with this, showed a middle ground between the two gender groups but nope, no middle ground only cliches and enforced gender roles, kids are smart and honestly deserve more than this.

The end is rather ambiguous, Zoit refuses to reveal his/her gender saying that it will only become apparent when he/she gets a crush on one of the other characters.
A wet fart to end a rather fairly uninspired script centered around a single interesting idea, I enjoyed the show as a kid but it certainly didn't grant me any additional insight into gender, enforcing the typical ideas generated by kids media giants like Disney  rather then breaking the mold and giving me something I can truly love.

I can't recommend it for more than a lark but if you must watch it with your kids remind them that the characters within shouldn't be taken completely seriously because honestly, they are fairly terrible role models and paper thin at the best of times.

See you soon for more antics with an entry on a personal favorite of mine, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.