Archive for May, 2009

Today there was a protest in the Melbourne CBD. A group of about 2000 Indian students decided to block off the intersection of Swanston and Flinders Streets, bringing cars, buses and trams to a standstill. They were protesting against the recent attacks against Indians in Melbourne, which they say is indicative of the racism that they face in Australia. The protest has lasted several hours and has turned very ugly with some students throwing shoes and projectiles and smashing windows at Flinders Street Station and then making their own taunts at passers by who were returning home from the football.

I wonder if this is the right way to go about things. It doesn’t seem to be very logical that if you wanted people to give you a fair go that you’d then go out of your way to annoy those people by blocking up the city’s major intersection. It also seems very stupid to then vandalise Flinders Street Station by smashing windows and harassing others. This is not a way to make people sympathetic to your cause. It is a good way of pissing people off and making them even more intolerant of you!!!

As for Australia being a racist country… well duh! This is well known to everyone. But not all of us Aussies are racist. There have been a few violent attacks on Indian students in the past couple of months but this is perhaps indicative of how much more violent a place Melbourne has become in recent years, as violent crime as a whole is on the rise. Even I do not feel very safe at night and am alarmed at the amount of violence on the streets and on public transport. Racism and violence are wrong and people have the right to peacefully protest, but you don’t want to annoy people while brining your cause to their attention!

Here’s a positive article regarding comic books from a 1949 edition of TIME magazine, not long before the comicbook medium would be demonized by Estes Kaufauver and Frederick Wertham.

Take It from Buzzy
Monday, Aug. 29, 1949

The comic book, Gang Busters, usually a hectic free-for-all of ricocheting bullets, cold-blooded criminals and implacable law enforcers, played host last week to a mild-mannered youth. In the midst of its bimonthly gallery of firebugs, homicidal maniacs, fight fixers, railroad wreckers, waterfront thugs and redblooded, straight-shooting minions of the law stood a pale blond youth named Buzzy. He was there to advise action-loving gangbuster fans not to join the ever-growing band of “stayouts” who decide each year that seeking their fortune in the world is more exciting than completing their public-school education.
Buzzy is the first enlistment in a new campaign mapped out by the National Social Welfare Assembly (representing the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Family Service Association and 55 other organizations) in cooperation with National Comics Publications, one of the largest U.S. comic-book publishers (37 magazines, 10 million circulation). Their purpose: to present “socially constructive” messages, exchange ideas on how best to make all comic books (with a monthly sale of 50 million) more acceptable to youth leaders, educators, psychiatrists and parents. Before the year is out, U.S. kids will get wholesome advice about racial tolerance, participation in community affairs and health education from such comicbook favorites as the Batman, the Green Arrow, Superboy and Superman.
Gradually the assembly hopes to thin out some of the blood and muffle the thunder of the average comic rip-roarer. Most conspicuous sample of their influence to date: “Brooklyn,” a raggle-taggle Boy Commandos’ character with bad grammar and warped diction has been transformed into a junior Brooks Brothers type who speaks impeccable English.”

Some of the wholesome advice about racial tolerance, participation in community affairs and health education that was mentioned has been posted here, here, and here.

Next time I go back to my parent’s home I am going to have to go through a few of my old things. Hopefully they have not given any of my stuff to my nieces and nephews. In particular I will be looking for my old Disney records, the ones that had an accompanying story book which you’d read along with the record. You always knew when to turn to the next page in the book, as you’d hear Tinkerbell sprinkle her fairy dust to indicate when to do so.

If I remember correctly I had Lonesome Ghosts, Clock Cleaners, The Ugly Duckling, Little Hiawatha and Little Toot, but cannot be sure until I see them again. Hopefully I still have the records and books in tact, as I’d like to listen and read these stories again. All I need to do is to get a record player (remember those things) to be able to listen to them again. I wonder if Disney has converted these stories to CD, but then again I doubt it, as they are currently trying to distance themselves from anything old or nostalgic.

The last post took me over an hour to get put up onto the blog and four attempts, thanks to AOL running so slowly and the browser mucking up again. Sigh!!!

Yeah, I know I should get broadband and stop complaining, but as I have said, that is not my decision to make.

Here’s a cute clip of squirrels from Disney’s True Life Adventure – The Living Desert. This may not seem that unique when you consider that today there are Animal Planet and National Geographic, as well as Sir Richard Attenborough out there chronicling the lives of animals in the wild, but in the 50s and 60s there was only Walt Disney.

This, and a lot of other great Disney nature films were released onto DVD a couple of years ago in Disney’s Legacy series. These are DVDs that I really need to get. If I remember correctly, these films used to be shown of the Wonderful World of Disney on Channel 7 on a Sunday night. I wish that they would be shown again, but not even the Disney Channel wants to show anything this old!!! Heck, Disney Channel doesn’t even want to recognise Walt Disney’s legacy, so why would they bother showing some old nature films?



USA-Mi29With all the current hysteria surrounding the current Swine Flu crisis, I thought that this product from WWII may prove useful. This product was designed after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour, as there was more hysteria (perhaps justified) that there could possibly be a chemical weapon attack on the United States. Click here for more information.

As for the current Swine Flu crisis, what a lot of hype. We are now hearing that 39 Australians have the disease and that “people are going to die!!!” Umm… Australia has a total population of 20 million people. 39 people is a tiny number number compared to the whole population. While I understand that the problem could be serious, it is obvious that the media is blowing everything out of proportion to instill fear in people and to boost their own ratings. The more scared people are, the more they are going to watch the news to see what is going on.

Have been browsing the web looking for interesting articles on Disney, when I came across this one from the Telegraph newspaper in the UK.

Disney film Up sparks ageism debate

It is destined to be one of the hit films of the year and has become the first animated movie ever chosen to launch the Cannes festival.

By Alastair Jamieson
Last Updated: 1:54PM BST 06 May 2009

But the next cartoon from the Disney’s Pixar studio, called Up, has already been given the thumbs down by investors and toy manufacturers because its main character, a grumpy 78-year-old man, is not considered commercially attractive.

The reaction has prompted accusations of ageism at the heart of the multi-billion-pound promotions industry that surrounds films aimed at children.
Produced in digital 3-D, Up sets a different tone to previous cartoon blockbusters from Pixar, such as Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc and Ratatouille.
It tells the story of widower Carl Frederiksen, who ties balloons to his house in order to become airborne. He accidentally drags an eight-year-old scout along with him and the reluctant pair embark on a series of wild and spectacular adventures in South America.

Although the £120 million film, which will receive its world premiere at Cannes next month, is eagerly awaited by critics, it has been getting a cool reception by financial analysts, some of whom urged investors to sell shares in parent company Disney.

They fear Up will fail to earn much-needed cash from spin-off merchandising deals on everything from toys and clothes to food and soft drinks.
“We doubt younger boys will be that excited by the main character,” said Richard Greenfield of Pali Research.

Previous Pixar releases have earned hundreds of millions of pounds for Disney from the sale of product licences. More than 25 million Buzz Lightyear toys have been sold around the world since the first Toy Story film was screened in 1995 and last year’s release of WALL-E saw replicas of the lovable robot become a Christmas best-seller. In Britain, such tie-in deals aimed at children are worth £2 billion a year – equivalent to £182 for every child.

However, there are no signs of a similar bonanza surrounding Up when it is released in Britain in October, with neither Tesco nor Asda yet aware of any collectable toy ranges or branded clothes. Usually, such marketing deals would already be planned by this stage, six months ahead of a film’s release.
“The film doesn’t sound like much of a goer,” said one buyer for a leading British toy retailer, who asked not to be named.

The situation is in stark contrast to the excitement surrounding the new Transformers film Revenge Of The Fallen which is released in June.
An advertising industry leader admitted ageism was a major factor. Hamish Pringle, director general of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), said: “Older people are rarely the centrepiece of campaigns despite the booming grey market and the obvious reality that we are an ageing population. One of the contributing factors is that most of those working for ad agencies are under the age of 40 themselves.

“There have been one or two specialist ad agencies catering for the older market but they haven’t been particularly successful, partly because older consumers are less impressionable.”

Professor Isabelle Szmigin of the Birmingham Business School, part of the University of Birmingham, said: “This is a classic battle between creativity and commercialism.
“Age barriers need to be broken down in all walks of life and if we exclude older people from entertainment aimed at children we are not only dumbing down but discriminating too.”

Professor Szmigin said California-based Pixar and Disney “really should be commended” for making a film whose lead character was not a child or an anthropomorphic character.

She added: “At a time when we are an ageing society and economic pressures mean children are spending more time with grandparents while their parents are out at work, it makes sense to reflect reality.

“Besides which, pretending old people don’t exist reflects a prejudice children don’t actually have. If you look at films like Willie Wonka, old people actually play quite a prominent place and it looks to me as though the ‘old’ hero of Up is a vehicle for a story – perhaps across generations and even size because the boy scout seems quite chubby.”

Gary Grant, chief executive of the Toy Retailers’ Association, said there was no sign of excitement about the release of Up.
“Darker films are less marketable,” he said. “When you think about Batman you might think of a cartoon character but the recent Batman films have essentially been aimed at young adults so they won’t do anything for toy sales.”

Alan Dadswell, managing director of Toys N Tuck, an independent chain of shops in Essex, said: “We usually get people asking things weeks in advance but I’m not aware of anyone wanting anything to do with Up. We’re expecting a lot of interest in Transformers, though.”
The row has exasperated Disney, which has found itself defending the creative process from commercial pressures.

Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney, told critics earlier this month: “We seek to make great films first. If a great film gives birth to a franchise, we are the first company to leverage such success. A check-the-boxes approach to creativity is more likely to result in blandness and failure.”

This is one problem that exists at the moment, that many people, most importantly those who are in charge, seem to believe that animation is just for children, which means that an animated film is only successful if it sells a whole lot of toys and Happy Meals. Part of the reason why classic Disney animated shorts and features are no longer shown on TV (as well as those by other studios) is because the TV executives and programmers have their own preconceived ideas that cartoons are just for kids and that kids today only want to see crappy cartoons full of CGI and 3D animation. (Despite the fact that Pinocchio was the top selling DVD in March 2009)