So I open up the letter, my eyes widen, then immediately become narrow. This is what I get…
Let’s get some context here! Batman Beyond is set in the future, so everyone has unrealistic ray guns & guns that shoot webs. Unlike in my mom & dad’s generation where kids shows showed people shooting each other & dying from getting shot in the arm in westerns & since my parents grew up in a farm, I’m sure they grew up watching stuff a city slicker would gag at (They had to kill their farm animals for food. That fucked up enough?) Also, in the Bruce Timm & Paul Dini Batman Animated Series only the bad guys had real guns, but they never hit anyone in graphic detail compared to stuff like ‘RoboCop’ or ‘Die Hard’ where one guys gets shot & they burst like balloons filled with red jello. Context! Mind you, this was pre-9/11. I know once 9/11, or maybe even after Columbine hit, every single cartoon that previously had pistols or anything pistol-looking was removed. May I refer you to the early episodes of ‘Jackie Chan Adventures?’.
So this letter & (President) Fuher Mc.Cheese’s budgetary plans have brought KCET (It’s own Independent station that still acts like it’s part of PBS) and all the nation’s PBS stations into the limelight once again. The last time PBS was under the spotlight of the American government was during the 2012 elections when Mitt Romney announced that if he were elected, PBS would have to go & everyone (With a mind) was unhappy about it. Even before that in 1969, under Nixon’s presidency, he was ready to cut the budgets for public broadcasting until a former Vietnam war sniper wearing a red wool sweater & some keds sneakers faced congress & urged congress as to why PBS was so important. That’s right, Mister Fucking Rogers was the face of defending PBS & was a freaking sniper in Vietnam. That’s badass! Also Bob Ross was a drill instructor. Could you believe that, the OG ASMR painter used to yell at troops before having his own painting show. That’s fucking dank. So now Fuher Mc.Cheese is being an asshole (Like everyone with a fully functioning brain expected), giving the right people tax breaks & he’s doing the most republican thing to do, cut the budgets of programs & things that help people. It’s an ongoing pattern & it needs to stop. Ayan Rand needs to get fucked by a switchblade dildo. Of all the things to cut, why PBS? Why that funny channel with the puppets singing the ABC’s? They want to breed people off government filtered entertainment & greenlight stuff they want to keep the sheeple in line. That’s my response to it.
So back in the days of yonder I was a kid without any cable & when vacation time hit, all I had to watch was PBS Kids. Didn’t matter what age group the show was hitting, I was watching it. It was either a cartoon teaching me how to spell ‘CAT’ or watching Maury Povich. At that point ‘The Maury Show‘ was still tolerable (Especially those episodes where he confronts people afraid of stupid shit like Mustard or Chickens). Then you had Jerry Springer which I always watched in secrecy when my mom was out. As a kid a bad cartoon was better than no cartoons at all & daytime network TV was barren of kids programming. So PBS was a refuge of boredom for me & somewhat a place for learning something new. I know, after a while Sesame Street becomes old & repetitive, but those puppets are still funny looking! Bert is an icon for homosexual puppets. The Count still makes me laugh & Elmo…..something’s just wrong with that red asshole. I am old now, while the puppets look funny I have no interest in catching the new episodes of Sesame Street or any other show on that channel. That part of my life is over with, sadly. Still, I will watch some things on PBS just to see what is up. Not too long ago I was watching an ‘Arthur’ rerun (Which is the only time I’ll watch PBS Kids) there came this promo for this show called ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ which is like a prequel flash animated series to Mr.Rogers Neighborhood. Yeah, for some reason that show had continuity. So the promo boasts that this child-like tiger is going to get a new baby sister because the mom tiger is pregnant. Out of curiosity I wanted to see this brand new special. I wanted to see if they were going to take the realistic & transparent approach of teaching kids about pregnancy. I was prepared to see if they were going to take it the whole 9 yards & show actual birth or at least show how babies are made with the cartoon characters. TIGER VAGINAS!!!! I was hoping for the perfect storm of factual stuff & a wave of parents complaining “How dare you show my youngins how babies are made! I was waiting for until they become tweens so I won’t tell them, refuse to let the sign up for a sex-ed class in high school & sit back until they get pregnant or get someone pregnant because WE’S IGNANT!” Sadly, none of that happened & I’m want 30 minutes of my life back.
As a curiosity I watched some stuff airing on PBS kids recently & I’m seeing an unsung demographic that used to be catered to back when I was a kid. They’re catering to the toddlers & the kids in either 1st, 2nd or 3rd grade, but what about the 4th grade to High School crowd? Though this show sucked ass & was boring as fuck, you had stuff like ‘Standard Deviants’ which was trying to make Algebra cool, but it just ended up making me hate algebra & Geometry more. Aside from that bullshit you had ‘Bill Nye The Science Guy’ airing on PBS for a short while I already talked about how my parents didn‘t want me watching that crazy white scientists all because he shoved soil into his mouth in an episode. Then you had the stuff that was for kids, but at the same time they would sneak in some intelligent humor only a minority of people would understand. When I was in 8th grade PBS premiered an animated series based off of the ‘Curious George’ movie with Will Farrell. The movie was for the kids, it’s a smiple kids movie with the monkey acting a fool in the city, all for laughs. The animated series was one of thee most funniest & pretty educational animated series out there. I’m talking the earlier seasons, okay. There were moments I genuinely laughed at & I’m pretty sure it made parents watching it laugh as well. There was an episode where George was taking over the duities at a conductor control center. There is a brief moment where George speaks into a mic & one of the conductors replied “Um, is it just me or was that a monkey?” That timing was just right. All I’m seeing now is it’s all for kids, which I’m not as pissed off about, but when you’re forced to sit with a child while they’re enjoying some talking fruit or whatever, you don’t want to deal with “This is the letter -A. What does the -A sound make?” You want this waste of time to at least be worth the sit. Instead, I’m seeing a lot of funny shit on that ‘Nick Jr.’ I admit, I watch ‘Pepa Pig’, that show has pigs & it’s funny (As funny as a British cartoon with pigs can take it & as funny as my stoner mentality can make it funny). I admit, I laugh at these shows for toddlers as if they were made as stoner comedies. I get easily entertained, choke on it! I’m seeing all the ingenuity & creativity gone from PBS Kids. I’m trying to stay away from ranting about ‘Arthur’ (That’s an entry on its own) but some time ago they tried to make the older audience laugh by doing a ‘parody’ of Downtown Abby. I’ll get to that fucking show later on, but the whole running gag of that episode is “Hey everyone, they’re acting like the characters in that show! Get it?” without any substance to it. Then you got those countless parodies they feature on ‘Sesame Street’ & that’s all that it is now. Gone is the social teaching or the teaching of toddlers how to laugh. It’s all letters, numbers & sometimes grammar. The social teaching is gone from this & a bunch of other shows. To be honest, kids need the social lessons now, more than ever, especially in this era we‘re living in when social skills are out the window & we got kids dealing with the cyber bullying. Their standards for green lighting kids shows has changed, it’s less how it will teach kids & more of the whole “What subject are you teaching kids? Will it be too hard? Will it include that audience involvement in the same vain as ‘Dora The Explorer’ where she’ll ask a question & answer quickly even though the audience didn‘t answer anything?” It’s become (Sad to say) almost corporate, even though they’re public television! That’s a weird mentality to do for something that can be balls to the wall creative. I guess they’re playing it safe due to the financial troubles, that’s my assumption.
Not to stray off from the topic, but recently there was a video by PanPizza on YouTube where he talks about failed projects or failed whatever (Animation things. I seriously forgot the title of the video) where he talked about the time when Cartoon Network wanted to cater to that toddler, Pre-K to 1st grade demographic called ‘Tickle U’ and parents groups were pissed off about it, including non-parents who are old enough to know better (Damn them). The parents were pissed because they deemed the programming block “Lacking in Educational merit”, even though the block was basically meant to develop toddler’s reactionary skills & teach them humor. Teenagers & (Like I said) people who were old enough to understand were pissed because they didn’t want this baby crap on their all cartoon channel. I don’t know when this was, but I’m assuming this was still in the era of Johnny Bravo & Ben 10, so they were pissed they didn’t get to see their wristwatch alien show. The parents piss me off more, as expected. Geez! All Cartoon Network wanted to do was teach toddlers how to laugh, instead of growing up without laughing, eating nothing but saltines & bottled water until in High School they reach the tipping point & get caught tearing a girl’s vagina out of her in the janitor’s closet! That shit happens, bro. But seriously, what is up with PC parents & not wanting their children to have a childhood? It’s messed up.
Moving on: As much as I like the public service PBS provides, I’m not spending most of my free time watching it. There are so many factors that keep me from ignoring PBS.
1.) Scheduling: In my area we got six PBS channels, one of them is a ‘FNX’ station which is like PBS for Native Americans & another one is basically a 24 hour PBS Kids station (Which comes in handy when you got late night anxieties). All of them have such wild & erratic schedules. On the official PBS Facebook they’ll advertise a new show they claim to air on all PBS stations, but upon checking the on-screen guide you can’t find it in any of the five PBS channels. Then lo & behold you come across that show that was advertised a few months later & they’re already deep into the second season when you find out. That pisses me off, especially when it came to ‘Sherlock’. I wanted to see what was up with that quirky British mystery drama all you American weeaboos were crazy about. It was aired under the ‘Masterpiece Mystery’ showcase & they were already into the third season with all this continuity & bullshit I needed to know to understand. What’s a Gobstoppah? Consistency, people!!!!
2.) Pretentiousness: Just because it’s British or Foreign does not make the show great. The U.K is just like America, they too produce some of the most shallow crap on Television. Even when PBS was at its height, they still fell into this trap. You wouldn’t believe many British comedies that aired on PBS that were so oversold that I watched it & had a horrible time not laughing at the supposed ‘Jokes’ on display. Sure, there were the exceptions of ‘Monty Python’, but even then sketch comedy shows are ripe for 50% biting humor & 50% flop sketches that aren’t remembered. While this isn’t British (It’s Canadian!), I don’t understand the appeal for ‘The Red Green Show’. Oh good god was that show a trifle to sit through. I don’t get that humor & it’s not because it’s ‘too intelligent for the plebian to understand’, but because it’s unfunny! Aside from the comedies, you also have just bland programming that is elevated to such a rank just because it’s foreign. Case in point,…….all you people are going to hang me. Who cares, I’m already dead inside. DOWNTOWN ABBEY! The fuck is up with that show?
“Oh mummie, I want to date that rich vicar, but he’s of the upper classes & they shan’t accept me as one of their own.”
According to the spark notes of that show, it’s all romance of people in different social classes in some rich people home. How that fuck is that entertaining? Do any of these people get shot? Do any of them actually slap one another & say “Fuck you! I’m banging rich bitches!”? Does anything ‘PRACTICAL’ happen besides angst & romance? This show isn’t for me, but I don’t get the appeal of this show. I’m one who’s willing to give drama a chance if it’s got an interesting hook & interesting characters. This show has neither the hook or the interesting characters for me. Then again, this show is pretty much a rich people problems show. Correction! I meant to say 19th Century rich people problems show. Then there’s this other show I haven’t seen since the third season. I admit, my cynical ass did enjoy watching episodes of ‘Call The Midwife’. That first season intrigued me, seeing these nurses handle birth in a post WWII England. That intrigued me & the characters were memorable. You had Jenny who was the straight character who just wanted to help people. Ahh man, I forgot her name, the big one…the BBW one. CHUMMIE! Yeah, that’s her name, she was badass! A war nurse who was like this big loveable & innocent woman who could probably break someone in half, yet she didn’t know how to ride a bike. Then you had Trixie who was that ‘Scandalous’ nurse who ‘GASP!’ wears makeup & likes to go on a night out! What a tramp! I dug her because she was so independent & pretty much your basic pinup blonde without being arrogant or self centered. I seriously forgot the other girl’s name, she was the short meek one with the mushroom hair. Don’t remember her name, but she was cute. I wish they evolved her character more & eventually they did. Sadly, I didn’t stick around to watch the other season because of one thing. The show was in a constant pattern, there was always a problem with the births & they always created tension debating whether the baby may make it or not. 9 times out of 10 the baby came out alright, thus making the tension building completely useless. Once I saw that pattern, I saw nothing but the pattern. Lots of long running shows did that, especially medical shows & police procedurals. I gave up on that show, is it even still going on?
3.) And finally, The Internet: What’s the point of waiting through borderline conspiracy episodes of ‘Nova’ for that episode on how scientists determine what dinosaurs looked like from their bones when either that exact episode or a full length documentary is available on YouTube. Sure, there are some documentaries on PBS that are not only well made, but are also assured that only the facts are presented. Whereas in YouTube anyone can make a documentary that they deem factual. Oh so many ‘Documentaries’ were made in 08 or 2012 when Obama was elected that were titled ‘What you need to know! Obama/ Lizard man?’ We have full length documentaries on why the earth is flat, let that sad fact sink in you. On that same token we got documentaries on stuff that PBS would never touch, case in point, a documentary on Chris Chan! There is more knowledge about that kid than there is about the history of the world. We also got stuff PBS won’t touch, not because its ineffectual, but because they are no longer the experimental force they once were in their height. ’The Gaming Historian’ would have been a PBS show back in the day, but it seems PBS doesn’t want to experiment anymore, they’re too comfortable re-airing ’American Masters’ and giving Ken Burns money to make another history doc. Thankfully PBS has not yet gone insane & started airing ‘Border’, a supposed documentary on illegal immigration which is actually a propaganda film for the Minutemen. Still, the internet satisfies the craving to learn whatever I want rather than waiting & hoping to see a Nova special on how babies are made. Seriously, even with the internet I can’t find that freaky & amazing NOVA special where the inside of a vagina looks like a freaky sci-fi movie. I’m not lying when I said the phrase ‘Borderline Conspiracy episodes of NOVA’, that whole series got to a point where they aired an episode where they scientists talked about how the jet airliner crashed into the twin towers back in Sept.11, 2001. That was some serious fuck.
All the innovation in educational programming is happening on YouTube, hell, all through the internets. Hate repeating myself, but PBS was slow on innovation. Like, right around the mid 2000’s PBS just stopped trying to explore the unexplored. There were a few attempts & they were never heard of again. I remember an animated series based on the Car Talk Guys called ‘Click & Clack’s As The Wrench Turns’ & I remember watching that first run & not hearing from it ever again, until now. Something tells me if I rewatch it, the humor might not hold up. Think about it, a PBS prime-time animation show for….can’t say adults because the humor was not lewd or raunchy. Humor for grown ups who listen to jazz & easy listening, they were the demographic & not the Family Guy, Simpsons, South Park demographic. I can’t pinpoint why this transition happened, maybe it was the internet, maybe it was the 2008 Financial Crisis, maybe it was affected by the FCC mandate that all TV channels must air an hour (Maybe more now) of educational programming, hence the reason why every single episode of ‘Arthur’ has to have some sort of end moral lesson instead of having fun. Then you have PBS basically cancelling their flagship title, not Sesame Street, Mr.Rogers Neighborhood. Yup, around the early 2000’s they cancelled the show starring the icon who was at the forefront of keeping PBS funded. What did they replace it with? Well here in California they replaced that 1pm to 2pm hour timeslot with a show called ‘A Place of Our Own’ which is basically a talk show for moms about when to send their kids to Preschool, what to look for in a Preschool, basically how to raise your damn kid! Couldn’t they show that after the PBS Kids block ended? Seriously, they just shoved it in between Sesame Street & their sorta PBS Kids for older kids block called ‘PBS Kids Go’. PBS (Well, KCET to be exact) defiled their icon by cancelling his show. A show that, I must be honest, hasn’t visually held up (Everything’s all 1980’s & 70’s), but the lessons are timeless & profound. Then they cancelled ‘Tellitubbies’, what the fuck did those borderline homosexual, multicolored aliens do to deserve that?! I know all of us (Especially all of us now in out teens or early adulthood) watched the show, got off it when we grew up & then got back to watching it again & now that show (To me) is a healing experience for me. I sometimes (Once in a full moon) stay up late & come across an episode of Tellitubbies airing on either that kids ‘BBC’ channel or on NickJr & I would watch that & just let the visuals calm my anxieties. It has that affect on me, maybe it was because I was watching it at a young age & it just takes me back to when the world (According to my rose tinted glasses) wasn’t as bad of a place as it is now. Also add in the bizarre nature of the show (THE NEW SERIES IMPLIES THAT THE TELLITUBBIES PROCREATE!), the borderline ASMR sounds it displays. I’m not high when I watch the show, but man, it sure felt like it in retrospect. They got rid of their comfort shows & are now re-airing their bland 2000’s shows that don’t hold up anymore. ‘Maya & Miguel’, what kinda comatose idiot liked that show, let alone gave it viewership? ‘Clifford The Big Red Dog’, a giant red dog sound cool on paper, but in practice it just raises a lot of questions. How does Emily Elizabeth pick up its poop? How huge is the poops? How did that dog get neutered? I’m asking the important questions here! Then we come to the one PBS Kids cartoon that pissed me off as a kid, & rewatching it now it still pisses me off! ‘The Bearnstein Bears’, the 2002 remake, not that other one from the 80’s (Which is better than the 2002 one). Ohhhh good god, talk about a group of old timey hicks trying to connect with the then modern times. Those goddamn bears piss me off & to top it all off they watered down their adaptations of the book. I’m sure we all know about their book ‘New Neighbors’ where pandas move in next door to the Bearnsteins & everyone’s excited, except for Papa Bear because apparently in the bear world, Pandas = Asians. Papa Bear is a racist & the whole story showed how racism is bad, racism is instigated when people don’t understand stuff & come up with their own negative reasons why something different is bad & how sometimes people can change. The cartoon, on the other hand, does away with that hint of racism & the new neighbors are bears just like them, they just like different stuff like Lacrosse & computer chips & the mom rides a motorcycle. AAAGHHHHH!!!!!! That whole show pisses me off, but what really sets me off is one thing, one actor. Michael annoying voiced indie rom com 2007 pussy ass bitch Cera does the voice of Brother Bear. IIIIGHHH!!! Everyone in that goddamn show has an annoying pattern to their speech. That show sucks, it did nothing to grab its audience & it was more comatose & milktosed than a retirement home! I bitched a lot about how PBS (The primetime section) has not been innovated, but I do admit shows like ‘POV’ are something new. It’s a showcase of documentaries that cannot be seen anywhere else. Everything else is stuff that they’ve been airing since forever like ‘American Masters’(Which they rarely air anymore, unless someone they covered recently died or reach a centennial) and NOVA. Sometimes I’ll watch ‘Frontline’ when I’m not so depressed because face it, every news today is bad news & all the good news is just fluff pieces. I’m surpised PBS has gone as long as it has, despite not having full on corporate financial support, only in specific shows, which is odd. I remember when ‘Juicy Juice’ used to provide funding for ‘Arthur’ and now whenever a PBS cartoon says the words “Major funding is provided by:….” it’s always for some educational tutoring program, some website, a resort or nothing at all. Goddamn it, I miss the days when Juicy Juice, Cheerios & Legos funded my cartoons! Then again, I’m surprised these companies & corporations didn’t enforce stuff like product placement. Then again maybe that’s why Cheerios & Juicy Juice don’t sponsor PBS programs anymore. I wish I knew more, but I can’t find anything at the moment. It’s odd because PBS has no investors (The same way the local news & the mainstream ‘educational’ channels do like Discovery Channel, History Channel, etc etc) . Face it, those cable channels are as educational as that drunk uncle telling you your great grandfather was the biggest drunk in the village. PBS, despite all the criticisms, is the last intelligent & educational channel out there. They haven’t stooped low as to producing an exploitative & scripted reality show…Oh wait! I forgot, they had a reality show back in the early 2000’s called ‘The Pioneer House’ which was basically a family decides to live off the grid without electronics or modern luxuries & live like the pioneers did. I can’t say it was exploitative, but it felt like they were chasing the money train by doing what everyone else was doing at the time. The show lasted a small while & was eventually cancelled. They even parodied it in ‘The Simpsons’ when the family had to live in a 19th Century house, it got that far in popularity. Then there were weird moments that PBS failed to mention or remember. There used to be a spinoff to ‘Arthur’ called ‘Postcards from Buster’ in which Buster, his dad & a rock band fly all over the world & learn about different families & cultures. It was a really cool & progressive show, especially for the fact that they aired an episode following a Pakistani family from Chicago when everywhere else Pakistanis were depicted as terrorists. This was a real breath of new air, then PBS made an odd decision by cancelling an episode. So Postcards From Buster aired episodes on a Cherokee family, a Mormon Family, a Jewish family, but the episode PBS pulled from syndication was when Buster Baxter followed a lesbian family. I had no fucking clue that episode existed until one day I was dicking around on YouTube. That’s pretty disgraceful, even for PBS.
In the long run, PBS is important, especially to many people living in the Midwest rural areas that don’t have any choice for internet providers, so their only method of unbiased educational programming is PBS & of course, like I said earlier, Republicans want to cut funding for it because they want to breed stupid people so those stupid people can vote for them using their stupid lies. So in the long run I may not watch it as much as I used to as a kid, but it’s still important to some. I’ll watch a few shows, but it’s nothing I’m setting my DVR as much to see. POV, Frontline, Arthur, Curious George, all good programming. My end message is support PBS, if not then support any institution or program or community that instills a love of learning, reading, exploring & imagination. PBS may not be what it used to be when I was a kid, but it’s heart is still in the good place.