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How Cartoon Network has grown over the years

There’s no denying that Cartoon Network has been the cornerstone of our childhood. It was that one TV channel many of us couldn’t wait to watch.

The current generation might argue it’s just another entertainment channel for children. But for millennials, shows like Dexter’s Lab, Powerpuff Girls, Ed ,Edd n Eddy were an endless source of laughter and joy. It was like having a surrogate sibling. It helped us find common interests, nurture friendships, create bonds and bring out a smile after a really bad day.

But is today’s Cartoon Network the same one as we grew up with?

The days gone

When Cartoon Network debuted in 1992 it didn’t produce much original programming. Its early success came from classic Hanna-Barbera shows like Tom and Jerry, The Flinstones, The Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo and others.

But once the network attracted mainstream attention, it started to produce its own original content. And each of these had its own distinct flavor.

Shows like Captain Planet and Space Ghost Coast to Coast were not only breakout hits for kids. They appealed to older audiences as well – teenagers and adults alike.

The success of these programs clarified that there was a market beyond the demographic CN were catering to.

The limelight : Early 2000s

At the height of its success in the late 90s to the early 2000s, Cartoon Network gained tremendous exposure. So much so that it became popular across the globe. More so than its rival networks of the time like Nickelodeon.

The Powerpuff Girls was one of the most popular shows on CN during early 2000s

The early 2000’s marked a change in style and tone of the network. In an effort to adapt to the growing demographic and changing tastes, Cartoon Network revamped its look. It introduced an edgier format with animated series like Samurai Jack, Megas XLR and Justice League being the most prominent.

The mature writing and “larger-than-life” storytelling in these show turned out to be a ratings boost for the network . Writers and animators drew inspiration from real-life events to express their creativity.

Mid 2000s and beyond

When 3-D animation started trending in the mid-2000s Cartoon Network also began producing content in the same visual style.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars was one of the major hits. Not just for Cartoon Network but also Lucas films. It revived interest for hardcore Star Wars fan and made the seemingly dying franchise relevant again in popular culture.

By the latter half of the 2010s decade Cartoon Network once again refreshed its look. This manifested with new bumpers, graphics, sounds and an overall vibrant presentation.

The new look reflected the change in demographic as Cartoon Network went back to basics. It started producing shows that were more kid-friendly in nature. There was reduced focus on mature themes found in previous programming.

Present day

Now flash-forward to 2018 and onward. Cartoon Network continues to keep its target audience entertained with a variety of content suitable for children.

The era that most of us grew up with is now a thing of the past. But the spirit and nostalgic memories of our childhood favorites can still be found in today’s cartoons. Although it might not evoke the same feelings for everyone.

It may feel like Cartoon Network has moved on from us to the next generation. But has Cartoon Network grown too fast for us or have we grown too fast to appreciate Cartoon Network?

5 times pop-culture fan theories were a huge let down

The Internet is dark and full of terrors when it comes to ruining your favourite TV shows and movies.

The urge to research snippets of the plot of the TV shows or movies, either in anticipation or in awe or confusion is something every binge junkie is familiar with. And fanfictions or fan theories keep filling us on these gaps and feed our over nurtured sense of connectedness with these TV shows or movies. These fanfictions range from being absolute bonkers to crazy but mind-blowing legit ones. Now, nothing is sweeter than a well-crafted, researched and thought-provoking fan theory that holds every chance of coming true. But then there are those other kinds, often greater in number, which are so ridiculous that they either make you go “Enough internet for the day!” or keep you up at night pondering over the ridiculous possibilities of them actually coming true.

Here are five of the most ridiculous fan theories out there on the internet that you should absolutely be warned about:

Alfred killed the Waynes (Batman’s parents)

(Yes, this happened too)

Whether it is because being a Batman fan is cool these days or you actually are a batman fan, this theory is enough to lose your faith on internet rants.  Back in 2014, one particular Reddit user put forward the theory that it was Alfred, the trusted old butler of the Wayne family who got Thomas and Martha Wayne killed that fateful night in a twisted plot to inherit all the Wayne riches. The defence for the theory was that Alfred plotted to kill all three of the Waynes and would inherit all the Wayne riches with no living Wayne heir. But Joe Chill did not have the heart to kill young Bruce and spared him who later went on to become the Caped Crusader of Gotham, which was also Alfred’s plot to get him into a dangerous lifestyle and get him killed eventually (I mean, come on!). Well, fair enough, random Reddit user. But why would Alfred not just get young Bruce killed later at some point and rather wait and actually train him (Earth 1) to become Batman? Why all that time and effort wasted when he could have just staged any accident and get the job done?

This theory has never been confirmed, obviously. Although in one story arc, (Neil Gaiman, Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader), Alfred is revealed to be the joker himself, whom he created to instil Batman’s life with some kind of a purpose. But that is a story for another time.

Aladdin is set in a post-apocalyptic future

This one is as old as time itself. Remember how the genie keeps referencing 20th-century pop icons, baseball, reality shows and jazz music shows etc.? Also, at one-point genie calls Aladdin’s outfit as “much too 3rd century”. All these shenanigans by genie led some fans to the theorize that Disney’s animated Aladdin is actually set in a distant post-apocalyptic world where civilisation is destroyed by nuclear war and things have essentially gone back to starting from scratch. Iago and Abu are mutant bird and monkey, results of the nuclear war and genetic experimentation, the magic carpet is a remnant of the old hover technology and it goes on and on.

Now, nothing is sweeter than a well-crafted, researched and thought-provoking fan theory that holds every chance of coming true. But then there are those other kinds, often greater in number, which are so ridiculous that they either make you go “Enough internet for the day!”

As tempting as that may sound, it was never actually confirmed by Disney. And they usually do address fan theories for a nod of confirmation as a playful gesture for the very least. (Yes, I’m talking about the infamous Frozen and Tarzan tie-in) So, it probably went like this, Robin Williams came down to the studio, made some insane jokes about random things, made everyone laugh and the animators decided to keep them because they were funny. Aladdin is a children’s movie with magic elements in it. Let’s not try and turn it into Mad Max.

007 is a codename passed on from secret agent to agent

Seems fair. I mean, if you consider the number of different actors who have played James bond since the very beginning of the franchise. Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, the torch of Bond has been passed on to several actors with different and unique characteristics. It seems logical to concur that James Bond and 007 are code names adopted by different agents and that is how the timeless MI7 hero has been living forever. Just like Q or M or Moneypenny. That is, if you don’t want your fan bubble to burst and accept the fact the different actors adopt the same character over time just to keep the timeless classic alive, not to maintain realistic continuity of agents.

If you follow the personal story arc of James Bond, his history with the infamous intelligence agency SPECTRE, and his earning of 007 title in Casino Royale, then it is clearly understood that all the James Bond actors were portraying the same character. James Bond was first portrayed by Sean Connery in Dr. No (1962) and is still going strong with now Daniel Craig playing the handsome but deadly MI6 agent.

Rey is Luke Skywalker’s clone

Boy, where do I begin! Star Wars loses it when it comes to clones. And should this theory keep you up at night, you shall not be blamed. Star Wars has fed you that anything that has the word clone in it is worth drooling over. Not your fault, snowflake.

So, here is the thing, speculating long and hard since the first synopsis for The Force Awakens came out, fans have not gotten any confirmation yet to whether Rey indeed was Luke’s daughter or not. The internet flooded with Rey theories. Starting from Rey was Anakin reincarnated to Rey was Jar Jar Binks’s spirit (What?) And one YouTube fan theorist before the release of The Last Jedi, came up with a ridiculous theory that Rey might actually be Luke’s female clone. Created by Knights of Ren, from the severed hand of Luke Skywalker.

An interesting theory. And the absence of clones in the new movies (no, Finn was not a clone) and the unexplained relationship between Luke and Rey leaves plenty of room for this theory to be honest. But clones are essentially supposed to be of the same sex and it doesn’t make sense to create a Luke Skywalker clone when Kylo Ren was himself full of enough pride that he was Luke’s best disciple.

Rest assured, like all other Star Wars fan theories, this too is never likely to come true.

Sherlock’s whole life was a lie

Now, this is an interesting one. We’re talking about BBC’s Sherlock here, which fans hold to be the one true Sherlock. We all know how the irritating but brilliant Sherlock is able to solve crimes using his mad deductive skills and essentially gets ‘high’ on good cases that takes a load of brain-work. Sherlock who is not a psychopath but a high functioning sociopath. And how without a good mystery to solve, he gets, “Bored, Bored, BORED”. Clearly, this guy is not normal.

Do you also remember about the other brilliant Holmes who is basically the “British Government himself”? Mycroft Holmes is equally brilliant and deductive as his younger brother but perhaps a saner one. So, what if all of Sherlock’s cases, his shenanigans with Moriarty, John Watson, all of it were brilliantly staged by Mycroft to keep his mystery junkie brother off the drugs and keep him alive and busy?

You can’t rule out the possibility of it, given the dramatic relationship that these two brothers share and also the near impossible infamous ways Sherlock solves his cases. So, is this theory ridiculous enough to be discarded or twistedly brilliant to actually be true? This one, I’ll leave for you to decide.

Rian Johnson was perfect for Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The following article was written before the global premier of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and we decided to keep it up because it proves a significant point – that our predictive powers are other-worldly. Forget what the “fans” say, it was a thoroughly entertaining affair and that was the whole point of the movie. – Editor in Chief.

Let me begin by being completely honest here: Lucasfilm is spoiling us. We went from having no Star Wars movies for fifteen years, then a trilogy of overstuffed, misappropriated, and darn near irredeemable prequels, then another decade of zilch, to there being at least one Star Wars movie released every year starting with 2015’s The Force Awakens and seemingly no end in sight.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this franchise. I think George Lucas achieved something truly special with the original trilogy. Which is why I am so troubled by this new status quo knowing that every year will bring with it either a new entry into the main episodic saga (i.e. Episodes I to ?), or an anthology film (i.e. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story), it’s an unfamiliar and quite frankly an unsettling sensation.

Star Wars Force Awakens - HIFI Public
A poster that spawned a thousand fan theories. Oh no, Rey is holding her stick thing at the same angle as Kylo Ren?! And she’s bathed in a red glow. She MUST be evil. Also, fighting stance – exactly like Darth Sidious. HAS to be Palpatine’s daughter! Image: The Walt Disney Pictures

When J.J. Abrams was announced as the director of The Force Awakens, I was equally ambivalent. On one hand, Abrams is an excellent character writer with an unparalleled eye for casting, and has experience tooling pilots for new franchises than most in Hollywood (just take one look at his IMDb credits). It made sense, Disney hiring Abrams to helm a movie meant to resurrect a beloved space opera franchise that had failed its fans in the past. He had done it before with 2009’s Star Trek reboot. They required his expertise in crafting new characters that equally be as lovable as the originals’. And judging by the overwhelmingly positive response Force Awakens received from the world  on Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, BB-8, and even Kylo Ren and his cross-guarded lightsaber, we can conclude that J.J. has done the job he was hired to do (not to mention the $2 billion the movie raked in at the box office).

On the other hand, Abrams lacks a basic story sense that  holds back  most of his directorial credits from  creating a lasting impact on the audience. The Force Awakens was no exception to this. Sequences in the movie were slapped together with a great sense of momentum masked in familiarity, simply shuffling characters along to the next scene, a trick Abrams  uses in order to hide the fact that there is no actual through line to his film’s story. One sequence stands out to me as particularly jarring:

As Rey and Finn are fleeing from First Order forces on Jakku, and the Millennium Falcon just happens to be sitting among a pile of garbage. Okay, fine. The most iconic vehicle in the entire franchise dropped in their laps as part of a run-on joke with no story significance whatsoever? I’ll accept it. So then, Rey and Finn commandeer the Falcon and escape Jakku, only to be captured immediately by none other than Han Solo and Chewbacca…

Star Wars Force Awakens - HIFI Public
“I know we’re running away and all, but look! 20% off on Disney merchandise. Can’t we stop for a bit?” Image: The Walt Disney Pictures

What? There has been no precedent set in the story thus far for such a monumental return. Is the galaxy really that small? Have Han and Chewie done nothing but search for the Falcon for 30 years? How did they find it so soon after Rey and Finn (vanguards of the new films) steal it? Such questions are played off with throwaway lines (and growls) from Han (and Chewie).  The scene felt exploitative of the fans waiting for a meaningful return of these ironic elements of the original film. Abrams capitalized on the yearning we all knew the audience had for the return of the original characters in order to expedite his story and deliver a film that is quickly but surely realized to be a beat for beat reread of the original Star Wars from 1977 (as A New Hope was first called upon theatrical release). Things just happen inexplicably in his films with little to no application of cause and effect, a basic tenet of storytelling in any medium. But it’s all good for Disney and Abrams, because the new characters are now beloved and perfectly capable of carrying the franchise forward and making some more billions. Star Wars is now a safe bet for Hollywood once more.

Star Wars original poster - HIFI Public
Mark Hamill wishes he had abs like that. Image: The Walt Disney Pictures

But is that all the Star Wars legacy is supposed to be? A box office footnote? In 1977, the original Star Wars was a groundbreaking sci-fi fantasy masterpiece precisely because George Lucas chose to approach making the film from entirely outside Hollywood’s conventions. It was unlike anything that came before it, innovative enough to change what was possible in theaters forever. It came with a galaxy that felt  familiar, and was rich with  lore. Most of all, the original trilogy contained well written and remarkably directed stories that felt relatable and mature while being about space samurais that can move things with their mind if they focus real hard. And I think this is all part of what makes this franchise so captivating and fruitful. It is the reason why we are still talking about it and Disney is spending billions after it in the age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If Disney continues to make safe bets without giving innovative filmmaking a second thought, there is no way they can remain relevant.

George Lucas, Star Wars set - HIFI Public
“I’m an old man, George. Couldn’t we have gotten set chairs with better padding?” “Shh Alec…you’re supposed to be a Jedi master. They don’t complain about backaches.” Image: The Walt Disney Pictures

Well, lucky for us next up is The Last Jedi, written and directed by indie darling Rian Johnson. Johnson is the mind behind great films such as Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and Looper. And every single one of his movies are cinematic wonders. If you haven’t seen it yet, Brick is a highly stylized neo-noir that takes place in and around a high school. It’s played vehemently straight as the characters fire off rapid, tongue-biting dialogue at each other with reckless abandon. They take turns evoking cool, sultry, menace, all the hallmarks of real noir without ever touching a shred of irony. And it actually works. Brick is a genius idea that sees itself prime into one of the best debut feature films ever made because of Rian Johnson’s thirst for taking the familiar in cinema and flipping it on its head to amplify those same ideas. And  by doing so he creates something truly new.

So, now that we’ve established that Johnson is more than willing and capable of going the extra mile for his stories, let us consider what he might do in the genre sandbox of sci-fi fantasy. Oh hey! It seems his last feature effort, Looper, is an original sci-fi story set in the future  involving time traveling hitmen who are all forced to kill their future selves as their final victim in an attempt to protect the syndicate that employs them. Oh, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a young Bruce Willis.  Might sound like the most cliché action film ever, but the film’s high concept themes are all grounded in just about the most human story imaginable: that of a mother protecting her son ,a powerful telekinetic prodigy. I’d rather not spoil any further but it is needless to say the movie is powerful and vulnerable at the same time, amplifying each side of the story using the other. Looper sees its sci-fi concepts all the way through in every aspect of its cinematic execution, from its electric cinematography to its grandiose projection of a desolate but fantastical future world, to give us another enthralling Rian Johnson original.

Rian Johnson, Star Wars: Last Jedi - HIFI Public
“I want you to stop missing your targets. Stop missing your targets. Seriously. How did the Empire ever conquer anything at all with hundreds of thousands of you if you’re this bad at shooting things?” Image: The Walt Disney Pictures

All of which makes him precisely the storyteller Star Wars needs right now. Even from what we have seen of the film from the unyielding teasers so far, The Last Jedi looks immediately more visually striking than Force , the story feels fresh and more urgent, and Luke Skywalker’s disavowal of the Jedi Order is an angle that looks increasingly like the upending of our very comprehension of the Star Wars universe that it didn’t even know was missing. After J.J. Abrams’ cursory attempt at filling out the storied sci-fi world of Star Wars, Rian Johnson’s eye for detail and world-building, mastery over cinematic storytelling, and undeniable alacrity to create something new from something old is the trifecta that might just make The Last Jedi one of the most fulfilling Star Wars films ever made.