Sunday, January 31, 2016

Drawn Together Picked Apart: Why Clara is My Least Favorite Character

Source: The Drawn Together Wiki
Like all shows I enjoy, there are some characters I like more than others. In the case of Drawn Together, my least favorite character would be Princess Clara, the Disney princess parody. Now usually when I have a least favorite character, I don’t really think about why I hate them. Usually it doesn’t require much thought, as they’re hateable or unlikable for simple reasons. However, there’s actually a more complex reason to why I dislike Clara. The short answer is that they derailed her character when they had something good. This post is meant to be the long answer.

When you think about Disney princesses, or at least the princesses before Tangled, they all have a few things in common. The two biggest are a sense of naivety and innocence. This was the basis of Clara’s character in the first season, and it worked. Clara was very naive, having little knowledge of how the outside world worked, and her innocence meant that she has no idea what she’s doing or what she’s saying might be offensive. This is actually good satire, as it understand the source material and adds a clever comedic dimension to it. It would allow Clara to say things like “can’t you just stop being gay” to Xandir not out of spite but out of naivety, not realizing what she’s saying is offensive.

This was a great basis for a character, and it felt like they actually put thought into it. This is what makes the next few things unfortunate.

By the second season, Clara dropped the “innocent” part of her character in favor for something more malicious. Whereas early Clara said offensive things because she didn’t know any better, later Clara said offensive things knowing that they were offensive. Her character went from being offensive but well meaning to basically being a fundamentalist Christian. Here, she began saying and doing offensive things knowing fully well they were racist/anti-semitic/homophobic/whatever, rather than saying the offensive things innocuously. They abandoned something clever for something lazier.

And this leads to my biggest reason I dislike Clara: they turned her into the show’s villain. In a show like Drawn Together, where every character has something wrong with them (Wooldoor’s need to seek approval from everyone, Xandir’s extreme promiscuity, etc.), it seems pointless to have Clara be the one acting out the most. Yet several plots of the show revolve around Clara kickstarting the plot by being an antagonist. This is a lazy route to take with a Disney princess parody; turning someone who is supposed to be pure and making them evil is not clever or insightful. Her general behavior as the villain is also reprehensible, and out of all the characters, her jokes miss the most for me.

Clara started as something that had potential. She started as a character with an actual clever twist on the Disney princess, yet the show abandoned that for a lazier charactacure. Clara is my least favorite character on Drawn Together because her potential was never fully realized.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Press Start vs Mechanime: Super Robot Wars Z3.2 Playthrough (part 1)

This Christmas I finally got my hands on Super Robot Wars Z3.2, and since I haven't done anything mecha related for a while, I'd thought it would be cool if I shared my playthrough with you guys. I plan to post a video at least once a week.

This first video is the two prologue chapters, which is primarily to introduce the player to the game's mechanics. It really shows off what some of your units can do in terms of battle.

I apologize for the terrible editing. This is my first major experience with video editing. Hopefully it's not too big a distraction.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Liberal Rant: The New Gilded Age

The Gilded Age was an era in American history lasting from the end of Reconstruction to the election of Theodore Roosevelt, or 1877 to 1900. The era’s name comes from Mark Twain, remarking on the dangerous inequality and unequal distribution of wealth of the day, suggesting the growth was superficial, like a gold coating hiding something of little worth. The era was marked by gross income inequality (one estimate suggests that the top 1% of Americans owned 45% of the nation’s wealth), crippling poverty, volatile and devastating downturns, monopolies, lawmakers in the back pockets of corporate interests, and a vilification of the poor and labor unions. It is regarded as one of the darker periods of American history, and was home to the then biggest economic downturn of all time.

We’d like to think we’re beyond that, but reality begs to differ. In many ways, our era bears an unsettling resemblance to the Gilded Age. The top 1% owns more wealth than the rest of the nation combined. The world is still suffering the consequences of a massive economic downturn. Corporate regulations are continuously being loosened, and our top politicians are dependant on the money of the elite. Labor unions and the poor are blasted, the former for being a business killing blight that outstayed its welcome, and the latter for being lazy leeches that are totally dependant on the government.

The comparison isn’t perfect. For one thing, the biggest employer of the Gilded Age was manufacturing, not service. The poor are generally better off than their Gilded Age counterparts. The biggest money makers in the economy is now finance, not steel or railroads. The prevailing Social Darwinist ideologies have been replaced with Libertarianism, though the similarities between the two are startling. But where the two eras share similarities are the most important, and perhaps the most defining challenge of our era.

There are many problems with having a second Gilded Age. For one, the original era showed us the danger of power being in the hands of too few. By simply buying our legislatures, the wealthy of then and the wealthy of now are able to push their agenda through Congress without resistance, which benefits them at the expense of nearly everyone else. The legislation of the Gilded Age and now reward those who already have the most wealth with things like deregulation, tax cuts, incentives, and subsidies. They also make it next to impossible to advance any new legislation that would address the unregulated markets, or protect workers.

Another huge problem that the two eras share is the dismal state of the working class. Both eras are home to many people blaming the struggle of the poor on the poor themselves, often spouting the tired line that if they just worked harder, they wouldn’t be in poverty. Services that help lower income families are constantly under fire. Labor unions, a service that can truly help workers, are actively being legislated against. Laws that would actually help lift up the working class, like a minimum wage hike, is being fought against tooth and nail. Thanks to corporate interests and general apathy, the working class is stuck in a condition that would be considered unacceptable by many.

So why has history repeated itself? The first reason is that the United States, since the Watergate scandal, has moved to the right, and continues to do so. This has allowed for things like Reaganomics and supply side economics to flourish, even though it only benefits the upper class. What’s truly puzzling is that since the Great Recession, voters have not moved to the left like in other economic downturns but further to the right, redoubling commitment to what should be regarded are defeated ideologies. History has repeated itself because voters place more faith in politicians that protect business and attack the working class.

The second reason is that the United States has lacked a strong liberal leader that is willing to fight the wealthy in the name of the lower and middle classes. Since Nixon, we’ve had three Democratic president, none of which can be regarded as strong liberals, and have generally been unwilling to use their power in a manner similar to Theodore Roosevelt. It took Roosevelt, a strong and active progressive, to bring an end to the Gilded Age and end the business practices that greatly damaged the working class. As of now the only high profile progressive in the Democratic party is Bernie Sanders, a man who cannot enact his proposals unless he had an army of like-minded legislators and government officials with him.

Things look bleak for America, not because of any security threats or who’s coming into the country, but because we’ve allowed our rich to become too rich, and our poor to become too poor. And unless people stop trying to solve their problems by electing the people furthest to the right and ignore the people willing to use the government to make a difference, then we aren’t going to change.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Liberal Rant: 5 Lamesass Arguments Against Feminism

There are a lot of legitimate criticisms of feminism, ranging from how it primarily benefits white, middle to upper class white women to its use of the term “rape culture.” However, there are a lot of lamer and less effective arguments that people keep using. These five are the arguments I’ve come across the most while on the internet. Are they strawmen? A little, but most of these arguments have actually been used, sometimes verbatim.

#1- You should call yourselves “egalitarians,” not “feminists.”
The Claim: If feminism really wanted equality for the sexes, they wouldn’t called themselves “feminists,” as it implies favoritism towards women. It should be called “egalitarianism,” which means equality for all.

Why It’s Bunk: First, this argument ignores the history behind feminism. For thousand of years, women were the oppressed class. They were denied many of the rights their male counterparts had for little reason other their gender. Even today, there are inequalities between men and women, with the man almost always having the edge. Feminism’s name implies favoritism towards women because nine times out of ten, they were the ones in really need of equality, and still are.

Second, this argument is a lazy way to paint those fighting sexism as sexist themselves in a similar manner of calling those who support Black Lives Matters for being racist for not saying “all lives matter.” Yes, feminism focuses almost entirely on women, but that’s because on a basis of gender, women get the short end of the stick. To claim feminists are being sexist because they are focusing on the inequalities faced by women is akin to saying the civil rights movements of the 60s were racist because they focused on the inequalities faced by blacks. Saying that those who want to see an equality for the sexes should call themselves something different for the sake of fairness ignores both the situation of women and feminism, past and present.

Third, it insinuates that if you identify as a feminist, you can’t identify as anything else. The main idea behind wanting to call yourself “egalitarian” but not “feminist” is that doing so opens yourself to want equality for all, not just for women. This is a faulty idea because supporting feminism in no ways bars you from supporting other movements as well. You can be a feminist, but you can still identify with groups that support gay rights, minority rights, and others. Social justice is not a rigid class system where you can only be one class at a time; it’s more like a skill tree. You can invest in as many branches as you see fit, but you are free to invest more in certain paths.

Finally, and most importantly, it’s arguing semantics so that people who don’t like feminism can still claim to be progressive.

#2- “My issue is not with feminism, but with modern feminism”
The Claim: The first two waves of feminism are fine, as they wanted equality and were civil. Modern feminism, on the other hand, wants superiority over men and are actively unpleasant.

Why It’s Bunk: This claim has two major problems. The first is that the first two waves of feminism had their less savory wings as well. Both had figures who advocated for more extreme goals and methods for achieving them. Obviously, the only ones who truly achieved their goals where the more moderate ones, but those extremists still existed. Feminist with extreme goals are not new to the current wave like people insinuate with the term “modern feminism.” Like any -ism, the movement had its share of fringe members, past and present.

Second, it takes a few extreme, vocal samplings of feminism to paint the entire movement. Thanks to the internet, it's easy for a person on the fringe to project their views and goals, but the fact is that no matter how loudly they speak, they aren’t the majority. Painting an entire movement based on its fringe is dishonest at best, and ignores that it’s a minority, not a majority. It’s like me going to Infowars and claiming that all Republican voters are conspiracy theorists, or judging all adult men by the works of Daryush Valizadeh (better known as Roosh V) or Paul Elam. All -isms and movements have their less savory members, and it is ignorant and even dishonest to act as if the fringe represents the norm.

#3- “Feminism is not necessary in today’s society.”
The Claim: Equality between men and women has been achieved, which makes feminism unnecessary. If anything, the major talking points of today’s feminism are either false or overblown.

Why It’s Bunk: Equality between men and women in the western world may have been achieved legally, but there’s a difference between what the law says and if it’s being implemented properly or even followed. For example, it may be legal to get an abortion in the United States, but lawmakers are finding new ways to restrict access to them to the extent where an abortion is not a viable option. Just because the law says people are equal doesn’t mean they are equal, and women in the west are still not totally equal. Women may not face the major obstacles the first and second wave of feminism do, but they still face sexism and discrimination. Injustice, no matter how small, is still injustice, and it must be fought. There will one day be a day where feminism is unnecessary, but that day will also be the day that both men and women are truly equal.

And the insistent claim that the gender pay gap and campus rape are myths are false. The statistics might be overblown, but they still exist. Just because you don’t want something to be true doesn’t mean it’s not true.

#4- “If feminists wanted to help, they’d go somewhere else.”
The Claim: If feminists were truly concerned about equality between the sexes, they’d go somewhere like the Middle East or Africa, where women actually face sexism. But since they don’t, they don’t actually care about sexism.

Why It’s Bunk: This is a spectacularly disingenuous argument for several reasons. First, it is ignorant (or even ignores) of the fact that there are already feminists in places like Saudi Arabia and Africa. They are just fighting for a very different version of feminism; one that is often within the cultural borders of their society. Feminists in the Middle East, for example, are fighting for equality for women within the parameters of the Qoran. It also ignores the thousands of dollars raised by western feminists to aid feminists abroad.

It’s also disingenuous because it ignores that western feminists would be of little actual use in those environments. Let’s say a western feminist took the criticism seriously and went to help in a country like Iran. She wouldn’t know the language the Iranians speak, so she couldn’t communicate with the native citizens. She wouldn’t know the culture or customs, so she’d wouldn't be able to apply her views proficiently. And most importantly, she’d probably be killed or imprisoned by groups who don’t want women to advance. This whole argument is like saying to a man who wants to do something about black-on-black violence, “well if you’re so concerned, why don’t you go to Somalia?” It sounds ridiculous in that scenario because it is ridiculous.

Finally, it’s a lazy way to handwave any actual problems a feminist may be trying to address. Yes, the injustices faced by women abroad is worse than in the west, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have people over here fighting injustices that still persist.

#5- Men have it just as hard, if not harder, so you should stop complaining.
The Claim: Men face problems in today’s society too, and in some cases, they have it worse than women, so women should stop complaining that they face sexism.

Why It’s Bunk: Whenever this argument comes up, it’s usually accompanied by a long list of grievances faced by men that somehow proves that women have it easy and should stop complaining. They usually include things like higher suicide rates, higher incarceration rates, higher rates of homelessness, and higher combat fatalities. Really, this entire entry can be about this particular brand of argument, but I’ll keep it brief.

First there’s addressing the higher combat fatality rates. For most of recorded history, women were not allowed to joined armed forces because they were viewed as weak and would therefore be a liability on the battlefield. So when people complain about things like the draft being unfair and how women have it easy because of it, remember that it was made by other men with an exclusionary spirit.

The other three complaints I listed miss the point of a movement like feminism, as in it is meant to fight institutional sexism, not only just problems women face. Very few grievances listed by people who insist men have it just as hard if not harder than women are not institutional, as in it does not happen to men solely because they are men. There are a myriad of reasons one might be homeless or commit suicide, but gender is rarely, if ever, the sole cause. It also ignores the fact that men have many privileges women don’t, and hold most of the highest positions in the world because of the misfortune of some.

Really, the main reason many people bring up this argument is not to showcase the suffering of men; it’s used to get people who identify about feminists to shut up. It’s a tactic to shut down the conversation. There are reasonable ways to ask, “but what about the men,” and not automatically get death glares. However, if you’re using it to get feminist to shut up, or make them look like hypocrites for not addressing something that’s out of their power, then you’re not actually adding to the conversation. You’re just being a jerk.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Drawn Together Picked Apart- A Very Special Drawn Together Afterschool Special

All pictures are from the Drawn Together Wiki.

Episode Number: 13th in season 2, 20th overall
Original Airdate: March 1, 2006
Focus: Xandir

Thank you, Random Number Goddess, for allowing me to review this episode next.

Here we have one of Drawn Together’s strongest episodes. If I had to choose an episode to get a friend into the series, this would be one of the top contenders. There’s so much that this episode does right and so few things it does wrong that this review is going to be more gushing about it that a review. Let’s get started.

Plot Summary
The episode starts with Xandir in distress. He’ll be visiting his parents soon, and he hasn’t told them that he’s gay yet. The gang tries to help Xandir through roleplaying, though it quickly spirals out of control into a story of abandonment, prostitution, and infidelity. Each member of the house adopts a new persona (except for Xandir, who’s playing a slightly more naive version of himself), and runs with them for the entirety of the exercise until all but Captain Hero (who’s playing Xandir’s mom) and Xandir are dead. The “cast” includes:

  • Xandir- Himself
  • Captain Hero- Xandir’s father originally, then Xandir’s mother
  • Toot- Xandir’s mother originally, then Xandir’s father
  • Clara- Mary Lou Slutzky, Xandir’s old girlfriend, who sleeps with Xandir’s father (when the part was played by Toot)
  • Wooldoor- a Catholic priest who tries to get the already roleplaying gang to do some roleplaying
  • Spanky- a cultured pimp named “Daddy”
  • Foxxy- a prostitute named Chocolondra Love, who is basically Foxxy with a slightly different outfit
  • Ling-Ling- a wealthy Japanese businessman named Mr Nagasaki

The roleplaying antics finally get Xandir comfortable enough to confront his parent. When they hear he’s gay, they respond with “uh, DUUUUH!”

I’m skipping a lot of the plot here, but mostly because I think the episode needs to be seen. Also, the plot has a lot going on.

Best Moment
Wooldoor, while playing a priest, suggests they do some roleplaying to gain some perspective. This exchange follows:

Wooldoor: (to Xandir) Now, you be the gay’s dad.
Xandir: Oh, okay! I love football. (smacks Toot)
Wooldoor: (to Captain Hero) And you be the gay.
Hero: I ain’t gonna be no homo.
Wooldoor: Fine, you be Xandir’s mom.
Hero: (in a feminine voice) Fine! I’m asking for this! (smacks himself)
Toot: Then who am I?!
Wooldoor: You’re the homo.
Toot: Can I be the dad?
Wooldoor: Okay, you be Stan.
Xandir: Then who the hell am I?
Toot: The queer! (punches Hero)
Wooldoor: I wanted to be the queer!

Worst Moment
After the disastrous meeting, Wooldoor says farewell, saying he has a “nooner”. He turns to a grade school boy, saying “I hear you want to be an altar boy.” When the boy protests, saying that Wooldoor took him from the playground, Wooldoor responds, “GOD took you from the playground!” Then he precedes to do his signature cheer.

The Good

This episode shows how creative and clever Drawn Together can be at the best of times. The gang’s roleplaying experience devolving into a “Lifetime original movie” sort of tale is very clever, and the jokes almost always hit. Yes, a lot of it is very exaggerated, but that what makes it funny. The roleplaying goes to place that no sane person would go, and it goes there in a over-the-top fashion that will make you keep watching. The episode also showcases some of the best humor Drawn Together has to offer. For example, Spanky’s  character Daddy went to see an opera. When he returns, he tells Xandir he missed something, and starts singing to himself “kill da wabbit.” This episode is a delightful blend of an absurd premise, great humor, and overall cleverness that tends to pop up in Drawn Together every now and then.

The Bad

Still, there are some less savory aspects of this episode. There are several jokes about gay sex and sex in general that push it. Toot’s character and Clara’s character end up in bed together, which is more weird than funny, though it is balanced out with Captain hero in skimpy lingerie. There are also some shots at the Japanese, but they aren’t anything we haven’t seen before.

Hilarity Meter ™  - 4/5 (Very Funny): A few misfires, but most jokes hit home.

Offense-o-Meter ™ - 2.5/5 (Pushing it): Gay jokes, jokes about what Japanese businessmen like, and pedophilia are all offenders here, but nothing terribly extreme.

Overall Verdict- 4/5 (Great): In my opinion, this is a contender for one of the best episodes of Drawn Together.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Press Start: Yokai Watch review

Image source: Yokai Watch Wiki
Developers: Level 5
Publisher: Level 5, Nintendo
Genre: RPG
Platform: Nintendo 3DS

While Japan is mobile country for gaming right now, there’s no denying that handhelds still have a firm grip on Japanese gamers. Several 3DS games in Japan have broken one million sales, a true accomplishment for any game. One such game was Yokai Watch, which cleared 1.2 million sales by November 2014. Yokai Watch has since become a video game juggernaut in Japan, spawning several sequels, spinoffs, and a successful anime. Yokai Watch has only recently been brought over to the west, but plans to localize its sequel are already being hinted at. Is the franchise onto something, or is it just a Japanese head scratcher? Let’s find out.

Story and Concept
In the world of Yokai Watch, everyday occurrences are caused by the presence of spirits called yokai. Suddenly forget your keys? Lose your cellphone signal? A yokai is probably behind it. One summer, your player character (default name Nathan/Katie) is discovered by a benevolent yokai named Whisper, who gives him/her a watch that allows them to see and communicate with spirits that would otherwise be invisible. With a whole new world opened up, the hero and his/her new “yokai butler” embark on a summer adventure, befriending and fighting various yokai.

The concept of Yokai Watch is a solid one. The idea that everyday problems, big or small, is the result of creatures we cannot see has potential, as well as giving an ordinary kid the ability to see and communicate with the supernatural. However, the actual story of the game is underwhelming. It’s an adventure story with episodic elements, but none of the stories are very compelling. There’s very little in the way of an overarching plot for the first 20 hours of the game. It doesn’t help that the characters, outside of the player character and Whisper, is weak. The concept is good, but it’s marred by a story meant exclusively for kids.

Graphics and Design
Speaking from the graphical department, Yokai Watch is pretty impressive. The world is fairly detailed and very colorful, giving it a vibrant feel. The true stars in the graphical department, however, are the yokai. While small, they are very well designed, with each hitting the note they aim for. There are many recolors of previous yokai, but many of them are rarer, more powerful variety of more common yokai, which I think works. The framerate is steady and fluid throughout most of the game, which really helps when exploring Yokai Watch’s large world. The game is colorful, impressive for the 3DS, and s cute without crossing into saccharine territory.

Music and Sound
The music in Yokai Watch falls just shy of great. Many of the songs in the soundtrack make use of “spooky” sound effects, giving it an unique edge. The songs themselves are fairly catchy (especially the bike theme), and the field themes in general are all excellent. The voice acting in the game is quite good too, although there are few scenes that show the voice talent off to a major extent. Yokai Watch is a great sounding game, and had all the tunes been as catchy as the bike theme, then the soundtrack would be one of the best on the 3DS.

I’m aware that pretty much every review of Yokai Watch has made the comparison between it and Pokemon. And yes, the game is very similar to Pokemon. But Pokemon is also very similar to Shin Megami Tensei, as is Yokai Watch. If anything, Yokai Watch resembles SMT more than Pokemon, and that’s fine, because it puts its own spin on the monster battling formula.

Yokai Watch involves the player traveling the city of Springdale, using their watch to find otherwise hidden Yokai to battle and recruit. Battles are three-on-three fights, with the Yokai acting according to their nature. Depending on their nature, they will attack, cast spells, or possess other yokai to buff or debuff them. You can also change your party while in battle with the wheel on the touch screen. You can also use your watch to trigger super moves (called Soultimate Moves), purify a possessed party member, order your party members to target a specific enemy, or use items.

The battle system is the best part of Yokai Watch. While your yokai act on their own, the game is still surprisingly strategic, as your input in battle as well as party planning can easily change the outcomes of battles. By influencing your yokai in and out of battle, you can craft your ideal party, and what order you put them in makes a world of difference in combat. The elemental system adds to this, as certain attacks deal more damage to certain yokai. While this won’t make a battle impossible, a difficult fight much easier if you know your opponent’s weakness. Yokai Watch’s battle system may not involve you making all your yokai’s decisions, but it’s still very involving, and encourage active team management outside of battle.

Like in SMT, you can convince yokai to join you. Your primary way of swaying yokai is with food; feed a yokai their favorite food, and they are likely to join you after the battle. You can also convince them by beating them easily, though this is much less effective without feeding them. This way of recruitment is adequate, but can be very frustrating. It’s often a trial and error process to find out what their favorite food is, and even then, it's still a crapshoot if they join you or not. Trying many times and wasting many items just to get one yokai is frustrating, especially if you want to collect them all. I once tried well over fifteen times to convince a certain yokai to join me, wasting tons of items and cash. That being said, recruiting yokai can also be satisfying, especially if you finally recruit a yokai you’ve been looking for.

The game has a few other flaws as well, with one of the biggest being Terror Time. At random parts every in-game day, the player will be trapped in a nightmare realm being pursued by ogres. If you are caught, you must rush to the exit before the biggest ogre catches you and beats your team to a bloody pulp. These events are often come out of nowhere, forcing you to stop whatever you were doing and run to the exit all away across the map. It’s a nerve wracking experience, and it completely disrupts the experience of the game.

Aside from the recruitment process and Terror Time, though, most of my other criticisms are nitpicks. The fusion mechanic, for example, feels shallow when compared to games like Dragon Quest Monsters or SMT, but it’s still serviceable. The bug catching and fishing minigames aren’t the best designed, but they are entirely optional. The game does not have that many big faults, and even with some smaller annoyances, it doesn’t come close  to outweighing the bad.

Yokai Watch may be a kids game, but it’s still very enjoyable. With pleasant visuals, enjoyable music, and a great combat system, Yokai Watch manages to hold its own against games like Pokemon and SMT. It has a few flaws, but nothing that will make you want to put the game down in disgust.

7.5/10 - Really Good

Friday, January 1, 2016

Drawn Together Picked Apart- Clum Babies

All pictures are from the Drawn Together Wiki.

Episode Number: 5th in season 2, 12th overall
Original Airdate: November 16, 2005
Focuses: Wooldoor, Ling Ling

Welcome to my new blog series, Drawn Together Picked Apart. For those who aren’t aware, Drawn Together is an animated television series that ran in the mid 2000s on Comedy Central. The premise is that eight characters from different animation styles/genres are forced to live together in a house in a manner similar to a reality show. The main characters are:

  • Princess Clara- a fundamentalist Christian princess known for her racist tendencies. A parody of Disney princesses and Disney in general.
  • Spanky Ham- a crass, greedy internet download. A parody of lowbrow Flash animations.
  • Foxxy Love- an incredibly promiscuous black woman who is also a mystery solving musician. A parody of cartoons like Josie and the Pussycats.
  • Captain Hero- a childish, impulsive, indulgent superhero. A parody of Christopher Reeve’s Superman.
  • Xandir- a gay video game adventurer. A parody of Link from the Legend of Zelda, and sometimes video games in general.
  • Ling Ling- an Asian trading card battle monster with a psychotic streak. A parody of anime characters, specifically Pokemon. Speaks in a fake dialect called “Japorean.”
  • Toot Braunstein- a washed up 20s sex symbol who plugs her emotional voids with food. A parody of Betty Boop, as well as black-and-white animation in general.
  • Wooldoor Sockbat- a “wacky whatchamacallit” with odd abilities. A parody of off-the-wall kid’s cartoons like Spongebob and Looney Toons.

There are two things that you must know before continuing. The first is that I really like this show despite its flaws. The second is that Drawn Together is perhaps the most offensive animated show to air. This series is meant to be a guide as well as a review series, showing both the best and worst the series has to offer. Episodes to review will be chosen at random. Let’s start with Clum Babies.

Plot Summary

The main plot starts with Wooldoor finally hitting puberty, resulting in uncontrollable horniness. After learning how to masturbate (which involves him doing things like poking himself in the eye and tweaking his nose), it is discovered that his Clum Babies (a slug-like creature produced as a byproduct of his masturbation) can cure pretty much anything. Spanky and Foxxy set up a business selling the Clum Babies, much to the dismay of Clara, who views masturbation as a sin. Clara recruits the Veggie Fables (a parody of the Veggie Tales) to scare Wooldoor into stop producing Clum Babies, only to soon find she’s dying of tuberculosis. Spanky and Foxxy try to get Wooldoor to heal Clara with one last Clum Baby, but they are stopped by the Veggie Fables. As Foxxy tries to get them to realize that the Bible may be more of a suggestion than a guideline, Bob the Cucumber goes on a rampage trying to kill Wooldoor to prevent him from producing more Clum Babies, killing everyone in the house in the process, including himself. Wooldoor realizes he can finally masturbate in peace, which is the way God intended.

So basically the main plot is an allegory for stem cell research. Remember, this was back when stem cells were still controversial.

The subplot of the episode involves Ling Ling enjoying the life of being a bachelor battle monster, before his parents set him up with an “arranged battle.” Although the marriage is great at first, Ling Ling and his new wife soon lose the original spark. They resolve this by choosing to have sex as opposed to battling. They are killed by Bob’s rampage.

Best Moment
When it’s revealed that Ling Ling is a regular club-goer, Captain Hero remarks that he always goes to the hottest spots in town and never sees him. Cut to a flashback where Captain Hero is enjoying a milkshake in a malt shop… where he notices Ling Ling and greets him. Ling Ling gives a casual wave.

Worst Moment
Wooldoor, Clara, and two of the Veggie Fables are playing a game from bible camp, which involves confession while whipping yourself with a scourge. Wooldoor apologizes for masturbating, saving lives with his Clum Babies, and spying on Clara while she goes to the bathroom. When Clara is disgusted, Wooldoor retorts, “you’re one to talk, Princess Smells-Her-Wipes!” Yeah...

The Good
There is a lot of good things about this episode, starting with the Clum Babies themselves. The complex, entirely nonsexual process for creating one is one of the best parts of the episode. I also found their design to be cute and cartoony enough to distract me from the fact that they’re basically semen slugs. I also loved the subplot in it’s entirety. I liked how battling for Ling Ling’s race is the equivalent of sex, and there were very few jokes that didn’t fail to amuse me. The Veggie Fables have some great moments too. They convince Wooldoor that masturbation is a sin through a song number. It starts out happy and bouncy, then shifts to a fire and brimstone style preaching, then returns to being the aforementioned happiness and bounciness.

The Bad

While this episode has some strong moments, it does have some big flaws. For one, a lot of the jokes are jabs at fundamentalist Christians, going so far to say that Bob believed in God because he had psychosis. The series makes fun of Christians a lot, but this episode has this in the forefront, and sometimes it misses more than it hits. And while the Veggie Fables can be entertaining, Bob’s killing spree can be off-putting. I personally found it funny, but I can definitely see why some people wouldn’t like it.

Hilarity Meter ™ - 3/5 (Funny): Most of the jokes hit, despite swings at fundamentalists.

Offense-o-Meter ™ - 2.5/5 (Pushing it): Jabs at Christians aside, there are several jokes revolving around Asian accents, and several jokes revolving around masturbation. Be advised.

Overall Verdict- 3/5 (Good): I recommend this episode. It shows what Drawn Together is capable of, both in terms of humor and bad taste.