One of my favourite shows at the moment is Adventure Time, created by Pendleton Ward. On the outside it seems like a silly, lighthearted children’s cartoon. But in closer detail there is a heavy, realistic, and at times dark, undertone to the entire show. This detail and stark reality provides a basis for the show to explore issues, introducing them to a public sphere.
Come On, Grab Your Mediated Public Sphere.
In his 1962 book, “The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, Jürgen Habermas talks about the public sphere and how it’s changing with technology. A public sphere is a place where people come together to discuss news and debate ideas. Habermas related the concept to a “17th century coffee house”.
Beginning with ‘letters to the editor’ columns in newspapers and magazines, mediated public spheres have come to light. Modern mediated public spheres range from television shows such as, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, The 7:30 Report and even ‘pop’ shows such as Big Brother, Toddlers And Tiaras and Adventure Time. The first three just previously mentioned identify issues clearly and discuss them in a calm open-opinion environment whereas the other three bring up these issues into younger audiences and pushes discussion on online forums and social networks.
We’ll Go To Very Distant Lands.
Adventure Time has a large ‘cult’ following and because of that community groups have formed around the show. The most well known Adventure Time Forum being The Land Of Ooo. The site allows users to start discussions on show related topics in a calm, open-opinion environment. There are guidelines members must follow such as speak English, no profanity, use each forum page as intended. There are also moderaters to enforce these rules but they do not have power over opinions and what people want to say (within the guidelines).
With Ideals The Dog…
Adventure Time contains a plethora of analogies that relate to the real world. For example, the show is set in a post-apocalyptic future, after “The Great Mushroom War”, “mushroom” being a reference to the mushroom cloud produced by large scale explosions (in the case of adventure time, it came from a nuclear bomb) which raises discussions on the use of nuclear weapons. The show also explores social connections between people with numerous characters that interact differently. This aspect of the show is explored more deeply in Season 5 Episode 3: All The Little People.
And Censorship The Human,
Australia is known for having strong media censorship. Many games, movies and television programs have either been edited or not made it to Australian shores because of the Australian Classification board and the laws they withhold. Even a lighthearted children’s show like Adventure Time can be censored after coming from America.
Adventure Time: Australian Edition (Click here to view in Youtube)
It’s only subtle and some of you may not even notice till it’s pointed out to you but in the Australian edit, Finn The Human’s bare behind is taken out of the shot. This raises the issue of nudity in cartoons. In American it was acceptable to show the bare behind but in Australia it’s not. Questions like, “What amount of nudity is too much for a child to be exposed to?” and “How different would this scenario be if it was a real bottom shown?” incite discussion over these matters. Discussions that would be held in a mediated public sphere.
The Talks Will Never End. It’s Adventure Time.
Adventure Time brings real world issues to a broad audience which, in turn, draws it’s viewers into discussing the issues presented in the easiest way how in modern times, through forums where anyone can express their opinion freely