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Cartoons by the Foot
Perhaps I am not the best person to sound the alarm over the abuse of cartoon characters. I have done some pretty nasty things to my creations over the years, including instances of degradation, maiming, and death.

But that was all for art’s sake. The pain that they suffered served a higher truth, or at least got a cheap laugh. Their lives had meaning. It is not so with the poor animated creatures who have been enlisted to sell drugs on TV. I won’t judge the characters themselves; they probably needed the gig. Their advertising masters, though, should have a special niche reserved for them in cartoon Hell.

The most flagrant example, in my view, are the ads for Jublia, a treatment for toenail fungus. A cartoon foot is the hero of their ads. Its big toe has a face, and around its neck is a white collar and a purple bow tie. It sports a jaunty, purple porkpie hat labeled “Jublia,” a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, and an expression of sardonic combativeness. Two purple fists float menacingly in front of it. Some of the toes, including the big toe face, seem to be afflicted with toenail fungus.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with dressing up your characters in goofy, humiliating costumes. That’s part of the deal when you sign up to be a cartoon character. And sometimes, as a part of being in this tough business, you may be called upon to shill for Big Pharma just to keep ink and paper together. Even so, you’re a professional, and if you’re expected to perform, you have a right to demand that your character’s identity makes sense. This Jublia monstrosity, though…it looks like a fool, it’s relentlessly violent, and worst of all for the animated actor, its motivations are unfathomable. Is it supposed to represent my foot, or is it the product itself? If it’s the product, and it spends its time battering the words “Toenail Fungus” (as spelled out in a repulsive fungoid font) into submission, then why does it still have that fungus on its face?

My heart goes out to that poor cartoon. It is not even given the dignity of bringing its own thespianic magic to this sorry project. And what kind of future will it have after this? One can imagine that it might read for the role of the Jolly Green Giant’s foot, but who’s going to hire a foot with fungus on it? No, this creation will be discarded after this job. It will end up, I am sure, in an unmarked grave and with no trace of meaning to show for its short, brutal life.

Its hereafter, I assume, will be spent in cartoon Limbo. I can only hope that its creators will burn forever in cartoon Hell.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee