Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Adventure Time, Come On Grab Your Friends!

Do you know about Adventure Time? Well...I don't really want more people to love Adventure Time. I want to be all hipster about this and say that I wish I could keep it a wonderful secret...but the secret is long out. So I might as well sing its praises.

[Image: the main Adventure Time crew.]

Adventure Time is the brain child of Pendleton Ward, and it's a Cartoon Network program that follows Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. It's quirky, cute, hilarious, and heartwarming. And while it might be "for" kids, it has a strong and dedicated following of adults like me, too. I know because when the Alamo Drafthouse held a feast event with Ward in attendance, there were far more of us adults there than kids. But it's great for either group.

My love for AT goes far, far beyond the fact that it makes me laugh. It's also a pretty damn feminist show, in subtle ways which makes me have hope for the future. (I mean, if all the shows that kids watch today were like AT, we'd be in pretty good shape.) 

While the two main characters are males, there are actually MORE female characters overall. And the character who is both smart and in charge is a girl, Princess Bubblegum. Finn and Jake are adventurers so conventional wisdom would have them saving Princess Bubblegum every episode, but SHE is actually the one who frequently rights the chaos in her kingdom, sometimes caused by the well intentioned Finn and Jake themselves. She's smart and inquisitive. Plus, I mean...look at the merchandise the AT team is putting out there:

[Image: Princess Bubblegum on a shirt in a lab coat w/ scientific tools and a large caption of "SCIENCE!"]
And the interesting female characters don't end with her. There's Marceline, the Vampire Queen who has a punk rock spirit and a fearless nature. (And when she had a sexist boyfriend in the past, she dumps his ass.) There's also The Lumpy Space Princess who loves her big, beautiful, lumpy body and has no shortage of self  confidence.
[Image: GIF of Lumpy Space Princess saying, "When I work these lumps, no man in immune to their influence."]

In case my quick and dirty run down doesn't have you convinced, I really suggest you check out these other more detailed explanations of the feminist aspects of the show:
...or, yanno, just watch it already! Seriously, I can't say it enough; I love this show. Every time I watch it, a character says something that makes me think, "Nice, writers...you slipped in a great message on that one." And that makes it so much more than just a cute show for me. It's the perfect escape into a safe "happy place."


  1. Adventure Time for me is a mixed bag. Sometimes it has pretty progressive messages and moments but it also has a lot of regressive and harmful ones, too. I love the show but I can see that it has its problems. For example, in "Web Weirdos", the show generates the message that you can fix a violent and abusive relationship by having kids. That is a HORRIBLE message to put out there. And LSP might be proud of her lumps, but the show consistently has Jake (one of the leading protagonists) express disgust at her body. The Ice King's alienated status is a result of his dehumanization of female-identifying characters--but at the same time, his "loneliness" is framed as something audiences should feel sympathy for. I don't know about you, but I tend to not feel bad for misogynists that treat women like they are nothing more than walking body parts.

    1. All fair points, thanks for sharing. I can admit, I haven't seen every episode (that whole not having cable thing cramps my style!)

      I also saw a recent criticism that the show lacks POC because all the humanoid characters are always light skinned.

      It's certainly not a perfect show.

    2. blue and pink and green skin though. if thats not diversity...

    3. That there's a unicorn that speaks Korean as if it's some made up language without a people, a culture and a history attached to it is problematic to me... but I guess it doesn't matter as long as "white female" characters are well represented... and that the only human on the show is a white male is not so forward thinking to me. I don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying something despite it's flaws, but to give this show a "progressive" stamp is going too far in my opinion.

  2. Well, LSP is proud of her lumps although jake is disgusted by her lumpy body. That's just like real life. Not everyone likes big girls but the big girls with a positive attitude towards themselves couldn't care less about who likes the shape of their bodies or who doesn't.
    The Ice King's status is a result of him wearing his crown that alters his mind. He would be considered clinically insane in the real world and you should indeed have sympathy for lonely, insane people, shouldn't you? Also i think it's wrong to get too hung up on political correctness. If you want to make anything remotely artistic and fun you won't get anything interesting out of it, if you try not to step on anyones toes.
    Maybe you're pissing off a small group of hardcore "masculinists" if these even exist. How politically incorrect of you!
    But i have to agree in that the show sometimes makes awkward statements and brings across funny messages. Also i wouldn't show it to little kids, because it sometimes seems to come straight out of a LSD-Trip gone horribly bad and no kid should be subjected to psychedelic visions as dark and grim as these. I'd rather let kids watch yellow submarine :) But maybe that's just the european me. I don't know what's considered normal kid's tv programme in the USA ^^


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