Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Korean in We Bare Bears

I've been meaning to post about this since it aired. We Bare Bears is a really delightful Cartoon Network show that started this year. It's about three adopted bear brothers: Ice Bear, Grizzly and Panda who navigate living together and being a part of human society. One of their good friends is a young girl named Chloe, who is Korean-American.

chloe sits in a classroom full of diverse college students.

According to a recent Washington Times article, "English isn't (the) main language at home for 21 percent in America." Despite this, it is shockingly rare to hear other languages in kids cartoons, unless it is an educational language cartoon (like Dora the Explorer).

When the three bears visit Chloe's family, we hear them speak Korean. It's isn't translated for the viewer, they use this to set up two different joke. One is for the viewer, like Panda, who doesn't understand Korean. The other is for the viewers, like Chloe and her family, who do. By allowing the joke to be framed both for native and non-native speakers no one is "othered." Everyone get's to be in on an aspect of the joke. It is so refreshing to see a show reflect the actual diversity of our country.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Reblog: Forgotten Christmas Specials

Probably my last 3twins post for a while. Click HERE to support them by reading it on their site : )
Most people fondly remember A Charlie Brown Christmas (recently blogged about here), A Chipmunk Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Now that I've name-dropped the classics, I want to talk about some specials that aren't as well-remembered but are also well worth watching.
1) A Pinky and the Brain Christmas Special
The Brain's most recent plan for world domination involves him and Pinky taking jobs at the North Pole disguised as elves.
I love the show's use of macabre humor targeting adult viewers, while also having lots of visual/slapstick humor for the younger audience. One scene involving the elves being invited to a party by the reindeer at Donner's house gets this quip from Brain: "Somehow, the ides of joining the Donner party is unappealing."
Well-written, comedic, with a sweet message about friendship, this is a fun watch for children and adults alike.
2) Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas
christmas2Community is a live-action sitcom, probably better suited for older children and their parents. In this episode the character Abed has a mental breakdown and believes that everyone has become stop-motion animated. We see the episode through his perspective, and an impromptu intervention by his friends becomes a Christmas Adventure to the North Pole.
This is a wonderful stand-alone episode and also a great introduction to the series. Community is known for having character-based overarching seasonal stories, as well as a majority of episodes parodying a different genre of film.

While a bit of a dark comedy (with each character being picked off along the way, Willy Wonka style), this episode is incredibly heartfelt. One of the things I love about it is how it talks about the different things Christmas means to different people. For some people it is a religious celebration, but for others the spirit of Christmas means something entirely different, and that's okay.
3) A Garfield Christmas
A surprisingly lovely special, considering it's main protagonist can be a bit one-note in the current comics. While featuring a lot of humor, the special's main focus is on Jon's grandmother, and how the holidays can also be a time of grieving, since her husband has passed away.
christmas3Another feel good ending, this cartoon always brings a smile to my face, and makes me remember my own grandma.
4) Will Vinton's Claymation Christmas Special
This gorgeous short is the Fantasia of Christmas specials. Classic Christmas carols are each animated in a unique claymation style. A mix of the comedic and the serious, one of the most breathtaking is Joy to the World, which uses a unique style of painting clay upon glass.
christmas1The songs are hosted by two dinosaurs that introduce the history of each carol, while also having an ongoing comedic bit about what wassailing means. Manages to be both (slightly) educational and (incredibly) entertaining.
5) Ziggy's Gift
This Emmy award winning animated short isn't well-remembered today, but it is well worth adding to your Christmas viewing traditions. There is very little talking, and the short relies on the beautiful, simple artwork to tell its story.
When Ziggy decides to help raise money for those in need by working as a Santa, he unknowingly gets caught up in a scam. Followed by bad luck, and a cop investigating fraudulent Santas, this story shows how caring and kindness can spread Christmas cheer to those in need.