Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Important Update

I wouldn’t usually post something that’s happened in my personal life on here. But since this will have an effect on the blog, and with series 22 airing in English in two weeks, I thought this was important enough to share here. Plus, since I don’t want to bog down the next review, it’s better to share this in a separate post.

Unfortunately, my laptop is dead. It has been the backbone of this blog, writing every single post since its inception in 2011. But one errant spilling of Fanta and... well, it’s true what they say: fluids and electronics really don’t mix. I’m honestly surprised it lasted as long as it did, especially with how slowly it was running in later years. But it’s still a disappointing loss, and I will be getting a replacement eventually.

What will this mean for the blog?
Well, I’m writing this on the iPad, so I should be able to keep up with episode reviews the day they air, like I’ve always done. In fact, they could be posted quicker than before. However, it will mean more posts consisting of walls of text like this.

That’s because laptops are pretty expensive for someone who (just about) has enough to get by as it is. And because iPads aren’t that great with Blogger, especially when it comes to pictures, it does mean that it’s unlikely they’ll be included for the foreseeable future. The heavily edited pictures I’ve uploaded in the past couple of years are off the table completely.

It might also mean that there won’t be a running tally of episode scores throughout a season. But I may have removed that section regardless of what happened to the laptop. They were mainly there for my benefit so I could keep track by the time overviews came around. But I can do that in a notepad or something.

The laptop is dead, future posts won’t have the visual polish that previous reviews had since I can’t afford a new one. But there will be posts in the future, starting with Number One Engine on September 3rd.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Rosies Are Red; The Concept of Love in Thomas & Friends

This week, Cartoonito in Italy has started airing series 22. It's been a fairly decent bunch of them so far. And while What Rebecca Does provided a talking point with her thought sequences, Rosies Are Red completely eclipsed it. And since there's more to talk about here, and I don't want to bog down the review with this, let's talk about it.

So the episode is all about Diesel, Bill and Ben teasing Thomas and Rosie when the former helps the latter. Then, Thomas and Rosie make excuses to avoid each other only to meet up at the end only to realise that they're just friends. Also, the Fat Controller gives his wife a cat as a present. That's going to be important for a future point.

Anyway, fans hated this for a multitude of reasons. I don't really know all of them, but I'll go through the ones I've seen.

"It goes against Awdry's Vision!"
Yep. This old chestnut again.

I genuinely don't understand why fans constantly bring this up these days considering he was mocked endlessly when footage emerged of him lambasting Henry's Forest (an episode, I'll remind you, that is heavily praised by a lot of fans). There were memes all over the place of him saying "no" and "Rule 55".

Yet now you find an episode you don't like, you decide to bring a man's name (the name of a man who's been dead for 21 years, might I add!) into the mix? I've talked about confirmation bias before and here it is writ large. Not only that, but it showcases the blatant hypocrisy that fans are willing to put up with when they watch an Allcroft episode compared to a Mattel Creations one.Both of which are meant to be heartwarming and sweet, yet only one gets overwhelmingly positive recognition.

Other examples of this hypocrisy include:
  • Rusty to the Rescue completely re-writing Stepney's story to one that's a lot less interesting, a lot less tense and a lot less original. That actively went against Awdry's vision since he wrote Stepney's backstory (based on reality) to begin with! That is an episode that a lot of fans like.
  • Busy Going Backwards, Thomas the Jet Engine and Rusty and the Boulder (and Snow near the end) actively go against the laws of science. All three are liked by a lot of fans, even though Awdry's vision was more grounded.
  • Magic Railroad included magic and a diesel with a massive claw. It's a film that many fans either love unironically or like for the sake of nostalgia.

"Engines can't love!"
"They [Annie and Clarabel] are both old and need new paint, but Thomas loves them very much" - Thomas & the Guard, series 1, 1984.
 ...you were saying? Also, for anyone wanting to invalidate the meaning of love in that instance (because, you know, Awdry and Allcroft bias), here's a list of definitions of "love" from the Oxford English Dictionary. The first of which I will draw attention to.
"An intense feeling of deep affection".
This is shown throughout the show as well. They sung little songs to each other in early episodes, Annie and Clarabel often worry about Thomas' safety and, in Not So Slow Coaches, Thomas literally tried to chase down two of the fastest engines solely to get his coaches back.

If that's not love, I don't know what is.

But if you really want to take that out of the equation, I'll ask this one simple question: why can't engines love? They can feel:
  • happiness
  • sadness
  • fear
  • excitement
  • anger
  • worry
  • envy
Basically, the engines in the show can feel every single emotion that humans can. Love should be one of them.

Also, for anyone equating love to sex, take a seat and I'll teach you a little something: love and sex aren't inextricably linked to each other. Sure, you can have sex with someone you love, but you can also have sex with someone you don't. People have sex with each other for a multitude of reasons: stress relief, generally feeling horny, even as a horrible power play (see also: rape). Meanwhile, you can love someone you have no sexual attraction to them (see: asexuality. Although, if they do end up confirming that the engines are asexuals, that would be incredible since it'd be the first preschool show to have a fully confirmed LGBTQ+ cast. I think).

So for anyone dreading that this will lead to something more extreme down the line, the answer is no, mostly because a) it's a show for preschoolers, they'd never go that far and b) the engines have no reproductive organs. They're anthropomorphised, not actual humans. But that does lead me on to...

"It doesn't belong in a preschool show! It's inappropriate!"
This is in the same episode that features the Fat Controller giving his wife a cat. As a Valentine's Day present. How is that alright for kids and not Thomas and Rosie's dynamic that ends up teaching kids that it's perfectly fine to be friends with a character of the opposite gender?

Also, we're talking about a show that's included:
  • Death
  • Multiple crashes
  • An actual wedding
  • A woman kissing Percy
  • An engine stalking another and being in the right for doing so (ironically the same two characters)
  • Racist undertones
  • Themes of toxic masculinity (I love Diesel & the Ducklings)
  • Almost half of the things that happened in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure (the abuse of Skiff, the use of dynamite - including Sailor John almost using a stick against Thomas, John whacking Thomas with an oar)
  • An engine (Gordon) almost exploding
  • Actual slavery
  • An engine almost getting incinerated
But sure, an innocent story about two engines who may or may not be attracted to each other is totally inappropriate for preschoolers(!) As is every time a child sees their parents being affectionate to each other. Or random strangers being affectionate in the street.

This is why this manufactured controversy is so stupid: it relies on the rest of the fanbase not thinking about it for it to have any credence whatsoever. And while I'm one of those people who would rather fans think about why they like or dislike something more than just "because I don't", this is one example where I can make an exception.

All fans needed to say was "I don't like romance stories", which is perfectly fine. Hell, I don't like romance stories because of how tired and boring the cliches are. The only exceptions being this (they end up staying friends and being fine with that) and Love, Simon (because it's an LGBTQ+ romance, and one of the few romantic movies that constantly keeps the audience guessing and the pay-off actually feels earned).

Simply put, fans complaining about this really need to start re- evaluating their relationship with the franchise, because there's no going back from this point. You're choosing to make yourselves bitter and miserable, and fan sympathy is running out for you. Either stick to what you like or find something to do or watch that will actually make you happy. Life's too short to be this miserable over, essentially, nothing.