I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Venture Bros

In the tradition of such cartoons as Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Venture Bros quite brilliantly takes on the cartoons of our youth. As a result, it is, for the most part, aimed at those of us who were kids in the late 70s and the 80s. It is not a cartoon for children. Like much of anime, it is a cartoon for adults, and that is why it is featured on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

The distinctions that I have drawn above assume that there is some way of measuring whether and to what extent one is a child or an adult. Venture Bros does not make this assumption. Rather, with an emphasis on the psychology and politics of heroes and villains, it reveals that, like the rest of us, cartoon characters carry with them, throughout their lives, the pains of their childhood. They act out the wars of their parents. And, most of all, they are motivated by the things that they lacked in their youth.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that Venture Bros is a serious television program. No. Venture Bros is a comedy. A smart and witty comedy. A penetrating comedy. Sometimes a painful comedy. Maybe this means that they're making fun of the adults who watch this program. We carry with us our Johnny Quests and our Fantastic Fours, and where do we carry them? Into the office of our therapists.

Venture Bros is awesome. And, yes. That's a word I learned from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And, no. I do not want to lay down on a couch and tell you how I feel about this fact. (OK, I feel a little frightened. Smiling emoticon.)

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