Dexter's Lab crosses the line

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Eric_L, Jan 27, 2004.

  1. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    First off, I am not what I would consider a prude or a censorship nazi.

    That said, I just have to post about an episode of Dexter's Lab (Dexter Dodgeball) I just saw on Cartoon Network with my children.

    Dexter, a nerdy type, is getting picked on in the playground under the pretext of dodgeball. Bullies are throwing balls at him and humiliating him.

    That night at home he gets inspiration from a dream.

    The next day in the playground the bullies attempt to humiliate him again by throwing balls at him. Dexter presses a button on his belt and a Mechwarrior type robot suit appears around him.

    Here's where it gets troubling:

    In a rage Dexter shoots balls out of the robots hands at the bullies as they run from him. He chases them around the schoolyard shooting balls in rapid fire, yelling in a mad rage. It is a long drawn out sequence presented as heroic vengance for his humiliation.

    The cartoon ends with him standing over the prostrate (unconcious?) and bruised bodies of the bullies in his power-suit.

    Maybe I am too sensitive but have these folks never heard of Columbine? My wife and I were both a bit shocked by this and are seriously considering blocking cartoon network.

    Are enough people shocked by this insensitivity to complain to Cartoon Network about this or am I just turning into a cranky old man? If I am right who would I complain to?
     
  2. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    I've seen that episode, and I thought it was funny. You were offended by it, so I must ask, did you continue to allow your children to watch the episode with you?
     
  3. Bryan X

    Bryan X Producer

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    I don't think the problem is cartoons. When someone commits a horrific crime, too many people are quick to blame it on TV, movies, music, video games, or whatever.

    The simple fact is, people who commit crimes like these (Columbine) are just evil. Plain and simple. Place blame squarely where it belongs... the kids who committed the crime and the parents who probably shouldn't have been parents in the first place.
     
  4. Matt Pelham

    Matt Pelham Screenwriter

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    Ever see an old Looney Toones cartoon? Those are infinitely worse than Dexter's Lab (although I haven't seen the episode in question).
     
  5. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    i usually agree, but when a cartoon seems to carry out the events at columbine (in a very general way) then i wouldn hesitate to blame the cartoons. however, if you show this to a good kid who knows it is wrong anyway, most likely no harm would be done. but when a kid who has the potential to do something like this sees it, it could spark something in his mind, if only subconsciously. i'd say it is a bad idea to show a kid something like that altogether. but show him as much fake-cartoon violence as he/she needs. i saw quite a bit of it when i was young and i turned out ok! [​IMG]

    CJ
     
  6. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    Let us see.....there is one act after another of murder and mayhem portrayed on TV night after night, with actors. But a cartoon character running around in a robot suit shooting basketballs at a bunch of bullies is cause for alarm? Really.

    The six o'clock news is more damaging to children than an animated TV show. Maybe they should start censoring the news.
     
  7. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    Eh, I have small children and have no problem with them watching GI Joe, which I watched as a kid.. and that show weekly had attempts to destroy the world, conquer humanity, wipe out cities, etc..

    The thing is, parents seem to just turn on the TV and dissapear; I have no problem watching it with kids because I think there is nothing wrong with a healthy imagination. And I think you can get through to a kid the difference between reality and fantasy.
     
  8. Casey Trowbridg

    Casey Trowbridg Lead Actor

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    I agree. Normal kids don't sit down to watch a cartoon and instantaniously get transformed in to kids that want to go shoot up their schools. Normal kids don't just listen to a song a time or 2 and decide to commit suicide. There are isues that go far beyond 1 song or one cartoon. I mean we all grew up with Looney Tunes, and its not like it led to a whole lot of people tossing themselves off of cliffs to be like the coyote. Ok, I know that the examples aren't exactly the same but you get the idea.
     
  9. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    when the nightly news starts to show kids picking on other kids at school, then the one who gets picked on goes and gets his revenge, making himself feel good by hurting the other kids...then yes, censor the news. some people will only see as far as they want to, you and i both know it is not the violence that is the issue here.
     
  10. Dan Keefe

    Dan Keefe Second Unit

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    ummm...its just a cartoon[​IMG]
     
  11. Leila Dougan

    Leila Dougan Screenwriter

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    Ah yes, the infamous dodgeball episode. It has caused quite a stir. But personally, I find it very funny and wildly entertaining.
     
  12. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    The Columbine kids didn't necessarily derive inspiration from anything related to Dexter's Lab. Why should anyone else? They had problems and bad parents.

    The point of the episode was that Dexter used his brain to come up with a method to teach the bullies a lesson they would understand (physical pain). Is it the best lesson? No. But if someone punches your child, would you rather have them take it, feel ashamed and small, and get punched again or punch back, feel that boost of self-confidence, and possibly get the bully to stop? The Columbine kids didn't punch back, and in the end, they got revenge in an extreme way.

    Nonetheless, the best part of all this is that you're at least paying attention to what your kids watch. I salute you for doing that much.
     
  13. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    I just think there are more relevant real life conditions that lead to acts of violence like Columbine. Not one kid in 1000 is going to connect the actions of a cartoon character shooting basketballs with a real life act of extreme violence. It takes adults to stretch a cartoon act meant to be humourous into some kind of insidious message promoting schoolyard violence.

    If there wasn't one violent cartoon shown on TV there would still be some kid beating up another kid in a school yard and the beaten kid wanting to take revenge.....if he or she could. Kids...and adults....don't need TV images as pump primers to commit violent acts.

    If violence wasn't the issue then what was? I got the impression that he was upset that an act of violence was being perpetrated on other kids by another kid in a show meant for children.
     
  14. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Personally I don't think it's fair to draw comparisons between a cartoon that had a boy imagining himself as a dodgeball spewing mechwarrior and the Columbine tragedy. Seems like apples and oranges to me. If that comparison is apt then almost any example of a person getting revenge in a school-type environment over bullies would be game.

    However I do understand your concern, Eric..
     
  15. James T

    James T Screenwriter

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    That episode was from the first season, so it was before Columbine.

    There are a lot worse things aimed at kids. Looney Tunes was a great example. But how many kids do you know died b/c an anvil dropped on their head?
     
  16. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    Lotsa posts and questions. I will try to answer:

    1) No, we turned to a different channel promptly.

    2) I really have no problem with cartoon violence. However this episode featured Dexter with a weapon (thinly disguised as a dodge-ball gun) chasing down terrified kids on school grounds. Like the Columbine shooting, his motive was revenge on those who picked on him. A little too close to home and hard to laugh at. My kids are too young to care, but I consider it tasteless at best.

    3) The image of the bullies appearing dead at the end. Not repentant. Dead. (or unconscious, your call)

    Do I think my kids will freak out and turn into school shooters? I doubt it. Do I worry that other kids may see it and consider the 'fun' of shooting up bullies? Yes. At the very least it is in poor taste. If it was prior to the shootings then it should be pulled out of sensitivity to the victims.

    What next, Dexter crashes a plane into a skyscraper full of bullies?
     
  17. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    but the cartoon network showed it after columbine.

    CJ
     
  18. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Lead Actor
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    Then they had better pull all of the copies of Bowling for Columbine off the shelf and burn them out of sensitivity to the victims, because that show allows us to see the real thing happening in real time with real guns. News footage and reports on the incident should be sealed or destroyed out of sensitivity for the victims because replaying that material victimizes them and their families all over again.

    One act of censorship on the basis of "sensitivity to the victims" just opens the door for more censorship.
     
  19. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    You guys must not remember your Looney Tunes too well then. There were a lot of examples of shotguns(and other guns) being pointed pointblank at the character's heads and being fired. Of course the result was nothing more than a dirty face.

    Eric I don't know if someone brought this up or not already but I think after viewing that cartoon with your kids it would have been the perfect time to discuss what you had just watched. Gauge their feelings on it and such. [​IMG]
     
  20. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

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    And kids developing robotic suits of armor that activate based on voice command and cover their body with unlimited weapons is realistic?
     

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