Friday, March 07, 2014

Ultraman: The Fear of Impotency.

(co-written with Nevin Shankaran Kumar)

Ultramen and their strategically misplaced sexual object.
On afternoons, back in early 80s, us kids would bundle around the Television (idiot box is an old joke, it has documentaries that will make you a dumbfuck), just to watch new adventures of Ultraman.

To the unitiated, Ultraman is kids TV series where a bloke, some cop or other, becames (or so I think, it’s unclear as he just brandishes a rod thing to the sky) Ultraman, a mouthless piece of being with glowing eyes and is suited in silver latexy thingy. And it’s a giant, big enough to fight monsters which failed the audition for the original Godzilla TV series.

It was quite a series as we kids devoured, perhaps, the first ten to fifteen minutes waiting patiently for Ultraman to come and kick the monster’s rubbery ass, and it literally does. Ultraman goes on kicking, punching, carrying the monster twirling it around, slamming it down and all without the gigantic ropes in the gigantic ring called Tokyo traffic.

Of course, like many TV shows and movies that showcases monster, we never get to see people get squished with the innards making their TV debut. It was a clean entertainment as far as we kids are concerned, no more violent than Tom the cat turning to pie-shaped being after being clanged by a rubbish bin top, or Sylvester the cat being repeatedly abused by the old lady with the parasol. Not to forget Wile E. Coyote that has been bombed to smithereens, smashed to pieces, torn to shreds, and blown into oblivion no thanks to its extraordinary efforts (and budget to spare notching up Acme Co’s share market) just to trap a goddamn road runner. All, to this author, didn’t matter as it meant, if you can’t for the first time, try and try again…till you see a TNT with burning fuse stuck in your ass.

Coming to back to the matter in point. The Malaysian home ministry has banned the Ultraman series (there are many Ultramans, of various shapes and sizes, some with horns and some not, but mostly without sexual devices I presume, though the buzzer in the creatures chest often gives warning red signals as if they have reached certain climax) and it annoyed many Malaysians, especially those who loved to see their kids enjoying same thing that the parents did when they were kids themselves: watching monsters being trashed about by another monster, a good one, till the bad ones explode, discombobulate, dismember, disintegrate and disappear in thin air.

The last, I suppose, was an alternate when the producer runs out of money for special effect.

Which is precisely the reason why I actually wouldn’t want my son to watch these damned men in latex suit superhero films in the first place. Look, if you are going to show some kids some awesome superhero flicks, make it look like a million. The early Batman TV series knew that and played it for a laugh.  

Then, came the Superman movies which were million buck entertainment and they still look good today. So were the Batman movies, never mind that somewhere they did the script smoking weird shit and tried to control the damage by having Arnold Schwarzenneger say varieties of ice related pun (it was smoking alright, from pan to fire). But they are watchable and they got the superhero thing right of late with the Spider-Man and Iron Man flicks, where, not only they spent millions, but they also added a human heart into it.

Not Ultraman, oh no. Ultraman continues with the 30 cents script and RM7 budgets per episode and tried its best to continue to hoodwink kids who are now already into mobile phone porn at the age of seven. You kidding me?

Ultimately, the shows are stupid. They belong to be in development hell, where they rot and if history is a good teacher what happened to the big budget version of Godzilla? Huh? Speaking of which, I sometimes wonder why Japanese are obsessed with size. If it is not about miniatures, it is about monsters, and why should we too? Don’t we have enough miniatures in form of politician brains from which spills innards of unbelievable stupidity. Or monsters in form of parents abusing kids, employers abusing maids, and leaders peeing over their minions?


We are now way beyond these monster shows. Dinosaurs movies came and took a hike. Size is scary. What used to be twin towers have since become mangled steel and burnt concretes. The new bad monsters in town are not terrorists and hackers, but what motivates them. But we can’t have TV shows for children where the monsters are religious zealots, corporate raiders, slithery smugglers, con artistes and big timers with loots stashed away in Swiss bank. No way, the politicians would want that to be banned as well. The last things they want a kid to see on screen is their own adventures.

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