2014 columns, Television

I heart Adventure Time forever

by Stephanie Van Schilt , May 23, 20141 Comment

Adventure TIme

 

During a recent Rereaders recording, one of my co-hosts asked whether I could imagine what an adolescent boy would see in Adventure Time. I’ve never been a young boy, so I can’t speak on behalf of its target demographic, but I can speak for myself: as a female in her late-twenties, I seriously love this cult animation show.

With episodes that run for eleven minutes, Adventure Time follows the um, adventures of human teenager Finn and his best-friend/adopted brother Jake – a dog who can inexplicably change shape, size and form – in the fantastical Land of Ooo. Now into its sixth season, Adventure Time is the presumed childish brainchild of Pendelton Ward and the Cartoon Network (airing locally on GO!). Spend some time with the show and you’ll quickly see that it offers much more than hyper-coloured zaniness and fart gags (although it joyously provides that too).

On top of its psychedelic aesthetics, formal experimentation and juvenile qualities, Adventure Time is rollicking fun awash with philosophical ruminations and poetic dialogue. Building on storytelling clichés – the sword wielding hero, a boy and his dog, and fairy tale styled royalty – it’s a strangely optimistic and darkly funny exploration of life, culture and art.

Presenting a densely populated and layered world, Adventure Time has long gained serious acclaim from audiences (both adult and children) and is now winning the attention of critics. The Slate Culture Gabfest noted the increased interest in Adventure Time closely follows Emily Nussbaum’s published praise in the New Yorker, however I’d argue the fresh collective praise stems more from the show’s development – a marvellously curious beast that’s definitely come into its own.

In a relatively unprecedented angle for animation, Finn – the character – ages with the voice actor (Jeremy Shada) who plays him. In conjunction with his twelve year old to current day cadence, the now teenaged Finn experiences personal growth as the world of Adventure Time has expanded and the storylines have become, for instance, more explicitly sexual. The aforementioned boom in critical attention coincides with this growth; as Finn and the series mature, the series deepens the origins of the post-apocalyptic, post-Mushroom War lands and inhabitants therein.

Seasons five and six are ripe with insular and more emotional episodes that offer psychological insight into characters and their personal challenges. For instance, ‘Marcy and Simon’ gave some deeply poignant backstory into the once-plainly antagonistic (now primarily flawed) Ice King and Finn’s vampire friend Marceline. Likewise, the early sixth season episodes where Finn finds his biological father are truly heart wrenching, tapping into issues of abandonment, optimism and growing up – I certainly cried.

As viewers learn more and more about the seemingly endless array of finely crafted, beguiling and oddball characters – like pragmatic Princess Bubblegum, conflicted Lemonhope and superficial Lumpy Space Princess – the joy gained from the show feels like a sudden, candy-coloured pop culture eruption.

Bite-sized and dense, Adventure Time lends itself to fandom with its deep-rooted mythology and obsessive video game-culture styling, but it’s totally worthy of the commitment (as proven in this masterful and insightful work of longform television criticism from Maria Bustillos).

Adults watch animation for different reasons – nostalgia, art, entertainment, whatever the personal preference. Adventure Time definitely dabbles with each of these on differing scales, but almost transcends these labels and reasoning. You can dip in and out of the show an episode at a time, but I’d only recommend this sporadic viewership if you’re high at the time (and as an adult…say no to drugs kids, etc). Otherwise, I’d advise you to join me for the long haul adventure and check out the lot – as you witness the world of Ooo expanding, watch your love for the show blossom.

Stephanie Van Schilt is Deputy Editor at The Lifted Brow and a freelance writer. She tweets @steph_adele.

ACO logo




capote-dog

The Outsiders: The early stories of Truman Capote

The recent publication of The Early Stories of Truman Capote – a collection of newly-discovered short stories from the archives of the New York Public Library – reveals the preoccupations of the adolescent Capote, drawn to drifters, exiles, and others living on society’s fringes. Read more »

CAROL

You Could Burn a House Down: Todd Haynes’s Carol

For many years, lesbians in fiction were punished for their social transgressions, condemned to a life of solitude, insanity, feigned heterosexuality and/or suicide. Radically, Carol portrays a lesbian love that doesn’t destroy or diminish its subjects, but enables them to transform, to grow and to be free. Read more »

21EMMYJP6-master675

Killings Columnists Pick Their Best of 2015

As 2015 concludes, we also farewell our fabulous 2015 Killings columnists. They’ve entertained and delighted us all year with fortnightly columns on culture, politics and society, and now they offer us a wrap up of their highlights for 2015 across their respective fields. Read more »

21EMMYJP6-master675

Killings Columnists Pick Their Best of 2015

As 2015 concludes, we also farewell our fabulous 2015 Killings columnists. They’ve entertained and delighted us all year with fortnightly columns on culture, politics and society, and now they offer us a wrap up of their highlights for 2015 across their respective fields. Read more »

18-gilmore-girls.w1200.h630

Tim McGuire

Progressive to a Point: Homophobia and Gilmore Girls

You can’t watch a TV show over and over again without picking up on a couple of its flaws, much as you might prefer not to see them. In the case of Gilmore Girls, the hamartia I didn’t want to find was a troubling and weirdly homophobic one, layered over with pithy dialogue, pop culture nods, and the small town charm that made the show’s seven seasons such a success. Read more »

ROSEANNE - On set in New York - 10/16/93 
Sara Gilbert (Darlene) on the ABC Television Network comedy "Roseanne". "Roseanne" is the story of a working class family struggling with life's essential problems.
(AMERICAN BROADCASTING COMPANIES, INC.)
SARA GILBERT

Rebecca Shaw

Out of the Imaginary Closet: Fictional characters who should have been gay

When you are part of a group that isn’t portrayed in the same way (or only negatively, or not at all) you become desperate for that glimmer of recognition. Here are several characters that I loved as a young person, who became stand-ins for the openly lesbian characters I wanted to see so much. Read more »

SPEAR_0014_Edward_Mulvihill copy 2

Lauren Carroll Harris

Eyes Open Dreaming: Spear and the potential for an Australian art cinema

Commercial success has long been prized as Australian cinema’s salve, and the values of that commerce-based vision of success have deeply permeated the national conversation. Spear sets this conversation aside entirely, raising in its stead the possibility of an art cinema in Australia. Read more »

CAROL

You Could Burn a House Down: Todd Haynes’s Carol

For many years, lesbians in fiction were punished for their social transgressions, condemned to a life of solitude, insanity, feigned heterosexuality and/or suicide. Radically, Carol portrays a lesbian love that doesn’t destroy or diminish its subjects, but enables them to transform, to grow and to be free. Read more »

Bowie - The Image  1

The Art of Immortality: David Bowie and The Image

With the news this week of David Bowie’s death at the age of 69 from a long battle with cancer, watching The Image is an oddly reassuring experience: the shared, mass hope that it can’t be true, that he’s not really gone, is played out in this grainy, almost haunted relic now almost 50 years old. Read more »

21EMMYJP6-master675

Killings Columnists Pick Their Best of 2015

As 2015 concludes, we also farewell our fabulous 2015 Killings columnists. They’ve entertained and delighted us all year with fortnightly columns on culture, politics and society, and now they offer us a wrap up of their highlights for 2015 across their respective fields. Read more »

18-gilmore-girls.w1200.h630

Tim McGuire

Progressive to a Point: Homophobia and Gilmore Girls

You can’t watch a TV show over and over again without picking up on a couple of its flaws, much as you might prefer not to see them. In the case of Gilmore Girls, the hamartia I didn’t want to find was a troubling and weirdly homophobic one, layered over with pithy dialogue, pop culture nods, and the small town charm that made the show’s seven seasons such a success. Read more »

PLM

Matilda Dixon-Smith

Family Matters: Please Like Me and the Aussie TV family

In a recent episode of Josh Thomas’s Please Like Me, the bouncy titles run over three little scenarios: Josh cooks dinner for his mate Tom and his boyfriend Arnold; his Mum cooks for her new housemate Hannah; and his Dad cooks for his wife, Mae. The three of them stir, sip wine and dance daggily around their kitchens in a neat metaphor for this season’s fantastic, cohesive new trajectory. Read more »

ss_8df8236403f5aad45eeedd33d2bd545e45435b39.1920x1080

Katie Williams

The More Things Change: Choice and consequence in Life is Strange

You can either be a benevolent hero or a monster, but few games deal with the multitudes contained by actual people. And what does it matter, anyway? There’s no such thing as regret when it comes to in-game decision-making – not when you can so easily restart the game to see what outcome will result from choosing Option B instead. Read more »

svfw crop

Katie Williams

Silicon Valley Fashion Week?: Fashion, technology, and wearability

Last week saw the inaugural Silicon Valley Fashion Week? (yes, with a question mark) unfold in San Francisco. The show promised ‘drones, robots, and mad inventions’, and tickets sold out swiftly; attendees were clearly eager to see more inventive clothing in this heartland of nerds. Read more »

AnimalCrossing copy

Katie Williams

Digging For Meaning in Utopia: Storytelling in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing is a series of games in which – as my partner once remarked incredulously – ‘nothing ever happens.’ In its latest incarnation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf, you become the unwitting mayor of a town populated by anthropomorphic, bipedal animals. Read more »

Sydney - January 20, 2016: This Is How We Die perfomed during the 2016 Sydney Festival (photo by Jamie Williams/Sydney Festival)

Impossible Futures: Tomorrow’s Parties and This is How We Die

These two shows ask: how hard do we need to listen? In each, minutiae can be discarded, at least in slivers of time. Tomorrow’s Parties and This is How We Die each allow your brain to detach for a moment: to spin off into the different worlds they create, before returning once again, as best you can, to the work at hand. Read more »

Tom Conroy and Colin Friels in Mortido. Photo credit: Shane Reid

Jane Howard

A Shining Nightmare: Mortido‘s Sydney

Sydney is a city of shine and reflective surfaces. The glint of the harbour follows through to city high-rises clad in polished glass, bouncing off the wide windows of the mansions hugging the undulating land before it gives way to the impossibly deep and wide water. But this beauty that can betray the darkness of the city and its people. Read more »

_85072354_hamlet3-pa

Angela Meyer

Outrageous Fortune: Seeing Hamlet as a Cumberbitch

Jazz swells, hushing the audience, and the solid black gate of the theatre curtain opens. It reveals the lounging figure of Hamlet, playing a record, sniffing his father’s old jumper. But what I see first is not Hamlet: it is Benedict Cumberbatch. Read more »