If there’s one huge, evil corporation I support, it’s Netflix (oh, great, they can mimic my likes and dislikes – and I helped them create that monster. Apparently I’ve decided to hasten the day when I can be murdered and replaced with an algorithm…).
I don’t watch television, and live a nearly commercial free life. That said, I do rent the crap out of Netflix.
I would love it if Netflix went back to being just a little less of a stock. I used to think they were pretty corporate back in the old days, back when their CEO was routinely and roundly stating that the customers were copying and stealing movies; and admitting that Netflix squelched higher volume users, in violation of their sales pitch of "all you can eat".
Still, at least back then they had a ‘contact us’ button. Now I can’t even find a button on their site to contact them in any way. For any reason. Not even to mention that I like some feature about the site.
Frankly, Netflix doesn’t need people like me sending them emails. What am I going to say? That I’m pissed they don’t offer Seven Samurai anymore? Netflix doesn’t need compliments, criticisms, or suggestions from people like me. Imagine? A guy who would stop everything to write a note about how he likes the new arrow button, or dislikes the incomplete filmography listings? Before, someone had to actually be paid to click "delete" on those messages. Thinking outside the box, Netflix just did away with the entire thing. Yeah! Now I feel bad about myself! Netflix Rules! Let’s put meat in new products, for fun and profit!
Anyway, I recently – maybe two days ago – returned Disc One of a fun show called "Wonder Showzen". The show, from 2005, is very much like Sesame Street, but with tabs of acid under Big Bird’s tongue. The show has a very explicit warning at the beginning stating outright that if you show this to a child you are a bad parent or guardian.
Taking that as my cue, I called my 8 year old out to watch. I took pictures and emailed them to Division of Youth and Family, maybe my girl will have a shot at a better life. Pray for her, if you can pray.
The show is done in the Sesame Street format as well – lots of interstitials, smash cuts on top of cartoons on top of games centered around stock footage, with kids playing the leads in a lot of the insane humor. One segment called "Beat Kids" ("Kids on the beat, kids on the beat BEAT KIDS! BEAT KIDS!") has kids going way beyond that naive, olden-day "Kids say the darnedest things" tone – these kids get in people’s faces and freak them the hell out. One little girl was sent down to Wall Street in a trenchcoat, with a microphone, to ask people "How many people did you exploit today?" and a host of other such brazenly accusatory questions. The kid is so adorable, and walks up so innocently, that these victims can’t help but smile, completely unaware that the scythe is about to come down. In short, it’s absolutely hilarious.
Another segment that had my daughter and I in tears was the conclusion to the main story of one episode involving an atheist puppet and a little girl who’ve taken a ride on the white-people space ship. The puppet makes the mistake of remarking that of course there’s no God, at which God, ever capricious and spiteful, immediately blows up the Earth. The little girl cries and accuses the puppet of making God angry. Clearly, the only solution is to go find God, and ask him to remake the Earth – even the puppet can see this. The only snag is, of course, the puppet still doesn’t believe in God. The little girl manages, fortunately for us all, to convince the puppet that it’s easy to believe if you just start pretending you believe. Problem solved.
The ship grounds down in Heaven. The puppet and the little girl confront God. God angrily barks back that He was sick of the way we kept the Black Man down.
The quick thinking puppet challenges God to "Rock-Paper-Scissors" – God has to rebuild the Earth if he loses. In an incredibly tense showdown… when God throws scissor…
The puppet throws… ROCK. God is humbled! The Earth is remade instantly. The puppet is gloating. God… is stunned. He’s never lost before. "It feels so bad!", he roars! We hear a click off-screen… the puppet and the little girl, horror-stricken, shout "No, don’t!" The gunfire blasts… the puppet announces the grim result: "God is dead!"
And that’s just five minutes of Wonder Showzen. Every episode, every bit, was great entertainment.
I would recommend Wonder Showzen to anyone who is entertained by seeing a kid exasperatedly roll his eyes and say "I get it, your racism is ironic." And if you can figure out how to contact Netflix, tell them to bring back Seven Samurai. Seriously, I finally had to just post it on their review boards – did I mention you aren’t allowed to mention Netflix by name on their own review boards?
As one child in Wonder Showzen remarks during a graphic educational video depicting pigs being turned into hotdogs: "That’s the dark nature of Capitalism."