Arrow and pandering

I say that the biggest flaw on Arrow is fan pandering in that the writers chose to cave into the demands of a minority of Arrow’s viewership. Most Arrow viewers don’t care about Olicity. Some don’t like Olicity.

To give you an analogy, it’s like somebody began pandering to a segment of the viewership that liked panty shots. The programme gets filled with panty shots and then if it gets boring, add groping. Arrow S4 is like this plus the possibility of airing a masturbating Felicity Smoak for instant shock value.

Since the viewership for Arrow has declined, writers will find new ways to get outsiders interested again but Faplicity Smoak could haunt their dreams to no end.

No more superheroes

I don’t have anything against superheroes save for that there’s nothing new about them at this point. So far we’ve been treated to multiple versions and incarnations of the exact same characters. You can say similar things about storylines. The Flash is a collection of repeated storylines and character types. Arrow is a retread of Smallville.

Weirdly enough, there was going to be a Batman film featuring a black Robin and the Nicholas Cage film was going to feature a black Jimmy Olsen. Smallville had a black Peter Ross so a black Jimmy Olsen on Supergirl was a character in the making. Oddly enough the Supergirl on television harkens back to the familiar Helen Slater portrayal if you go by the costume design alone.

But in hindsight, some of the things going on Arrow, Flash and Supergirl were nothing new. Spectacular Spider-Man had a black version of the same white character. You could replace Harrison Wells with either Niles Caulder or Professor X and it wouldn’t change a thing.

Heck try replacing Cisco and Caitlin with Manuel Lago and Frances Kane and you’d see a similar development. To those who have read comics or at least knew of it, there was a precedent for what will happen to Cisco and Caitlin in S2. Friends of the Flash who become villains.

The only thing new to happen is have a wanking Felicity Smoak and punk detective Barry Allen. Then it all goes down the drain.

What are you going to do with them?

It’s safe to consider superheroes in their current form as a fad. Even if they’re been around before, most of them didn’t get big until the late 20th century. There were Punisher, Captain America and Fantastic Four films before especially in the 70s to 90s time frame. You can go as far back as the 40s with the Shazam, Batman and Superman movie serials.

X-Men have been quickly catching up with Spider-Man and Fantastic Four since the 1980s. The Flash too has been on the slow-burner despite being much older than me though the question is how fast the Flash catch up to become a big franchise on par with Superman and Batman.

I don’t see much merchandise for the Flash programme. There’s only merchandise for the Flash comics and that’s usually relegated to toys, fast food flyers and t-shirts. You could say it’s too late for the Flash to become a big franchise given the possibility of audiences getting turned off by S2 similar to what happened in Arrow S3.

Arrow suffered a lot after pandering heavily to a narrow but vocal fanbase. Most of the comics fans don’t like and so do the general audience. Its ratings plundered and original direction went nowhere. The biggest misstep for the Flash would be to turn the protagonist into a bass-wielding detective ala the Clash after he loses his powers.

Flash S2 would be filled with Clash references and would predictably promote the band heavily. Two of Paul Simonon’s sons could appear at any point. Then the love for the Flash dies down so badly it results in a backlash against not only the Flash Clash but also superheroes in general. The Flash will become the ultimate example of cynical marketing. When the Clash take interest in sharing the franchise, expect the Flash to appear in music festivals and appear alongside proper Clash merchandise.

However if the Flash dies, the question is what will replace the franchise? At the very least it would lead to crime novels with a similar premise and protagonist. S2 has yet to come out but would spell the end for the Scarlet Speedster.

The Evil Empire

Disney has been branded the evil empire for its habit of aggressively marketing to children (and sometimes animation fans) though other franchises have either done the same or even exceeded it. The Doraemon franchise is similar in that it’s about a talking animal and it usually appeals to children. Unsuprisingly you can find the likeness of Doraemon not just in toys, cartoons, books and comics but also in sandals and notebooks from what I’ve seen in the Philippines.

Similar things can be said of any anime as long as they’re popular with people who aren’t big nerds. I’ve seen poor kids wear YYH shirts and it was popular years before. Its’ safe to say that not all Disney cartoons are this aggressively marketed. There was merchandise for Kim Possible, shirts and toys and stuff. But at this point, there might just be nostalgia for it.

I grew up with Disney media from CD-Roms to cartoons and books. I can sense how that appealed to me before. But then again we have contenders that might make Disney blush. Lately the yellow Minions have been aggressively merchandised and marketed though who knows if this is going to end. There was ridiculous Disney merchandise before and probably still is.

The Minions are going to be everywhere. They’re coming to the Disney Channel, they’re arriving on boxes and they’ve appeared on food products. They’re that easy to market to. The designs aren’t overly complicated. The personalities are next to nothing compared to the Disney characters. Their appearances are less distinct than theirs so to speak.

Who knows what would happen if the Minions fad ended. One could consider them to be the yellow counterpart to what the Smurfs were in the 1980s. Heavily marketed to almost no end but could still have a lingering presence if the recent Smurf films are any indication. Only time will tell.

Wolfaboos

Wolfaboos and wolf nerds are no different from anime fans except even more pretentious and crazier. When I mean by that, they should know better by then but a lot of wolfaboos and wolf nerds are narrowminded types. Not caring about other endangered animals like reptiles pet a few concerns.

A lot more reptiles are critically endangered than there are wolves. But the concern for them isn’t big even if their suffering is worse. Even odder still is that some reptiles were historically revered, in a sense that they were charismatic megafauna. It’s been said that Western dragons are based on snakes and Chinese dragons from alligators.

Their reputation wasn’t always good but they were heavily invoked not only in religious allergy and alchemy but also medicine, heraldy and divinity especially with characters like Hermes/Mercury. Dogs and wolves did have historical reverence but their reputation was usually lowlier.

Not only were dogs used in medieval medicine but were at some point aligned with the Devil as some stories have him appearing as a black dog. The Bible often depicted dogs in a negative manner. They were even mass exterminations carried out on dogs in the Middle Ages. Even today in places where there are still stray dogs, people will find ways to thin their numbers.

Other countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Austria aren’t much better. Not because they have stray dogs but because lots of people poison them often. Heck some people in France, Italy, Poland and Israel think that stray dogs are even worse than wolves as they kill more livestock than the latter do. Around 500,000 sheep in France are killed by stray dogs opposed to 30,000 in the UK.

Snakes and crocodiles not only bear the brunt of having their numbers thinned out in the wild, sometimes due to poaching, superstitious medicine and exotic pet trades but also get skinned in farms. I’m sure there are people who feel bad for them but it’s not vocal enough to drown the support for wolves.

Not that I have anything against wolves but I’m pointing out that wolves aren’t the only animals with a maligned reputation, elsewhere dogs are maligned. Not just in places where there are stray dogs but also in parts of Europe where there is no justification for poisoning them rather often.

To give you an example of how stupid some people are when it comes to history. The Baiji dolphin went extinct several years ago but even before that people were cloning specimens hoping to find a way to bring them back. There was a reported sighting of the Baiji dolphin in 2008 though it remains to be seen whether or not the Baiji dolphins will live again via cloning.

Just as Chinese alligators were revered and transformed into dragons, the emblem of China for years the Baiji dolphin was deified as Erya the river goddess or a princess who turned into one. In terms of international popularity and concern in recent years, they have been overshadowed by the Giant Panda.

The list goes on and on with a certain Vietnamese turtle going extinct due to a shortage of females and despite being similarly revered and deified. Even the dugong was seen as a divinity to some islanders and similar things can be said of snakes, sharks, crocodiles and turtles.

There are reptile nerds/herpaboos but they’re not as common and vocal as their wolf counterparts are. It’s also the curse of many contemporary charismatic megafauna being mammals. This wasn’t the case before and still isn’t to a degree. But wolfaboos are proof that we pay more attention to mammals than we do with reptiles despite the latter having historical importance and reverence.

GenZed

GenZed is a new cartoon series that has diverse representation. Wait a minute the red-haired transsexual character isn’t anything new for some odd reason. There was a red-haired transwoman in the webcomic Questionable Content, only to be predated by the titular protagonist Ranma 1/2 and arguably Mystique from Marvel Comics. She was going to be the father of Nightcrawler, given that she’s a shapeshifter and would practically be genderfluid when you think about it.

These weren’t a stated influence on the cartoon but they set a precedent for it. Not to mention that it has poorly thought out POC characters. Not that there’s anything wrong with a nonstereotypical black person and East Asian. The cartoon could flesh them out any further but not when their defining traits make them ‘quirky’.

If they were white, it wouldn’t be a narratively big deal because there isn’t much to them at this point. Even the psychopathic white bloke is just another quirky character like the rest of the cast. It’s as if ‘quirky’ is a shorthand for making them unusual in a cynically nonthreatening way.┬áThat’s my problem with ‘adorkable’ and ‘quirky’ characters. They do have flaws but they’re poorly thought out and well-done to make them genuinely flawed.

Or that they’re trying too hard to make a flawed character that they end up creating a jerk Mary Sue. I think that’s the curse of making quirky characters if stuff like GenZed, Flash and Arrow are any indication. Their personalities are so poorly thought out that only obsessive nerds can project their ideas onto them. GenZed might change for the better but who knows if the writers are going to give them actual personalities without making them either too shallow or too cliched (no more angry gingers this time, I hope).

Further thoughts on the end

As I said many times over, certain gimmicks can help accelerate a decline in both quality and popular interest in products and brands. Lady Gaga is a good example of how the overuse of gimmicks stalled whatever time she needed to perfect her craft as a musician. Considering that she rose to fame overnight with several gimmicks in a row, they ended up overshadowing and even taking priority over her actual skills considering that when she first began using her real name, she initially didn’t play or make dance pop music.

I can remember somebody saying that the overuse of gimmicks tends to stall whatever skill a person has when it comes to refining his/her craft. The person in question has talent but it’s underdeveloped. Lady Gaga is practically like this. Similar things can be said of writers who use gimmicks to cover up for their inability to practise their writing skills. They have talent but there’s no refinement to it.

There is little time for the Flash writers to actually practise on other areas where the Flash is lacking in like actual character development and stuff. When they do, it could turn out for the worse if they started using lots of gimmicks like neverending Clash/London Calling jokes as exemplified by Barry wielding a bass in combat to compensate for losing his powers.

People will get tired of it, no matter how shocking the writers try to be by having a jerking Felicity Smoak and Barry marrying his adopted sister. It’s not only terrible but also pathetic and badly executed. It could be done well but the way they might do it leaves a lot to be improved on. Superhero comics have been reduced to gimmick conduits where death and violence are practically meaningless and inconsequential that they don’t matter anymore.

Similar things could happen to the Flash and Arrow if writers continued to shock and provoke the audience if they’re not careful about it.