"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 3 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Speed Racer Has Left The Building

"Wouldn't it be cool, you think, 
 if someone was able to graft    
 together the loopy, day-glo     
 utopias of Saturday morning     
 cartoons with the spit and      
 passion of cutting-edge rock and

- MCA promo copy for Saturday    

[Saturday Morning]

It may not take an advanced

degree in mathematics to grok

that nostalgia is the square

root of irony, but only an MCA

marketing squad would be

desperate enough to prove the

theorem in public. Whether

Saturday Morning: Cartoons'

Greatest Hits will become the

point-of-purchase impulse item

of Spring '96 is up for grabs -

we're just hoping nobody gets a

promotion for having thunk up

this formulaic example of

nobrainer emo-manipulation.



Conceptually, it's at least as

sound as any given Bud Light

commercial - if the "kids of

today should defend themselves

against the 70s," it's only

because the kids of the 70s

were too young to defend

themselves from becoming witless

Manchurian candidates at the

sinister hands of Hanna-Barbara.

Then again, any post-war

generation will always have in

common that effervescent sense

of childhood wonder (for the

enchantment of mindless

consumption, at any rate). In

theory, the transition to

adulthood includes purging

kneejerk idolatry from one's

system - or at least, masking it

through several layers of irony.



70s Saturday morning kiddie

shows provide plenty of fodder

for analytical slumming via

half-digested French theory -

almost any pseudo-sexual

perversion born of the minds of

Sid and Marty Krofft (evil

Witchipoo lusting for little

Jimmie's magic flute?!?) makes

for an equally perverse

enjoyment at the mouths of

today's degreed slackers. But

just because a whole generation

was primed for a lifetime of

zombification via repeat

viewings of the Groovie Ghoulies -

a generation which now finds

comfort in the rationalization

of its then-morbid fascination

of same - doesn't necessarily

guarantee a textbook Pavlovian

response when confronted with

the cereal bells of one's past.

[Groovie Ghoulies]


There's no end to attempts at

this sort of retro ploy - arcade

game sound effects, breakfast

cereal jingles, and quaint

public service announcements

(hanker for a hunka cheese,

anyone?) might sound like great

sources of nostalgia-laden

material at the corner bar or

Monday's marketing meeting, but

after you go back and actually

review the Schoolhouse Rock

archive, you may find yourself

waxing nostalgic for your

memories instead of the "real

thing" - or, more likely, simply

shrugging your shoulders and

buying yourself a Coke.


[Liz Splits]

As with all sentimental sales

pitches, the intangible being

sold often evades effective

packaging. In the case of

Saturday Morning, the situation

degenerates even further - not

only do the covers fail to

deliver on the dream of

temporarily renegotiating one's

childhood, they manage to rub

the non-thrill in your face by

extending the 30-second spots to

carelessly bloated 4-minute




It hardly bears mentioning that

the songs themselves have a

staying power unlikely to be

matched by any of the artists

featured on the disc - the

line-up, a virtual who's who of

contemporary one-hit wonders,

will likely find that their

musical legacy will not extend

much further than their

guaranteed slots on retro 90s

collections sure to come. Sure,

acts like the Ramones and

Butthole Surfers may have more

longevity than your average 90s

Buzz Bin equivalent of Men

Without Hats, but, as per

standard tribute methodology,

the exceptions only prove the

rule - you shouldn't expect much

beyond the familiar routine of

also-rans performing the "hits"

of has-beens.


[Saturday Morning]

In light of the decades-strong

success of K-Tel, we doubt the

ilk of Saturday Morning will

ever really go out of style, the

experience of the present seldom

matching the fog of memory in

terms of sheer romance. But the

behind-the-scenes perpetrators

of these exercises in the

obvious may find the heralding

of their genius short-lived - we

predict the producers and

participants are doomed to soon

be acutely nostalgic for their

careers. But who wouldn't want

to live in the past when the

future promises the assorted

members of Sponge, Wax, and

Tripping Daisy lurking in

Hollywood Blvd. backalleys,

desperate for that old standby

back-to-womb retro kick, heroin?

If you're that desperate to

dredge up shit from the past, we

suggest a career in plumbing.

courtesy of the Duke of URL