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June 2013: This is no longer an active blog. From this point on Mythulinity will be an archive without new posts. Thank You to all followers and readers for your past contributions and loyalty.

That's the goal for our greater good: Sharing the best manimal/mythical and real male images and info online.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pure Cheesey Goodness Dept.: Fun With Snakemen

"The power of the Elders will never fall to the Snakes!"

In this episode (in two parts) of the new (2003) and improved "He-Man" the villains are hunky reptilian hybrids. That alone, not to mention the super-muscled title character, are reason enough to watch this mass-pop pulp fodder. Of course, if you hate superhero cartoons you will want to pass.

It's interesting to note the major differences in this new series with the original. Among them, this is a much more dramatic and violent series aimed at a bit more sophisticated audience and one that can tolerate standards of violence no one dared approach in the early to mid-80's. With the advent and subsequent widespread popularity of Japanese anime in the American market, all bets are off as to how far any new animated series can go. Short of swearing and blatant sexuality all things seem to get the thumbs up and especially violence since death and mayhem are standard operating procedure. In the original series, no one ever died and certainly no one ever succumbed to violent attack. 

The quality of the animation is better and so are the character designs. While faithful to the old series the whole enterprise looks a lot cleaner and better. But that wouldn't be difficult. The old Filmation series used the cheap-jack cell animation of the period and it isn't hard, with computer generated assistance, to make a better looking product these days. I am still a big fan of well-done cell animation, but the original series hardly falls into that category. 

In the original "He-Man and The Masters of The Universe", Prince Adam was a thinly-disguised effeminate homosexual, a nelly boy in pink tights. He was a foil for the outrageously muscled and powerful stud, the all male and make no doubt about it, He-Man. Much as Franklin Pangborn and Edward Everett Horton were used as foils for the somewhat feminine prancing and dancing wonder, Fred Astaire, in the Astaire-Rogers musicals of the 30's. There was saying that "Rogers gave Astaire sex and Astaire gave Rogers style". Pangborn and Horton gave Astaire masculinity.

My question would be: why would He-Man ever deign to regain Prince Adam form after experiencing the wonder of his new buff stud self? Dr. Jeykll probably would have continued down the immoral, hedonistic, and debauched path of his alter-ego Mr. Hyde if it weren't  for the fact the medicine kept wearing off and he would wake to discover what horror he had unleashed on his world. What is He-Man's excuse? After all, aren't we lead to believe He-man is definitely a superior self to the weak and sissy Prince Adam? Isn't a man measured by his muscularity and his virile, forceful presence? Aren't men only as good as their power to be progenitors and to overcome weak opponents? Isn't that the main message of every comic book and action movie? Heroes are better than us. Right? They are more powerful, more virile, more capable. Right? Aren't these hyper-masculine figures used to brainwash and then enlist naive young men into wars for profit? Be all you can be. . . if you live to experience it. So, if you are going to fight to survive or to make a buck wouldn't it be better to be a huge and forceful he-man than a puppy-powerless prince? What advantage is their to staying small and shallow?

In the original series the character was obviously royalty, but he almost never interacted with his family. At least as far as I can remember and I haven't seen an episode of that program in decades. If no one really cares, why doesn't he just hold up the damned sword 24/7, stay the hunk, and make it "I AM THE POWER!!" permanently? Because lacking the metamorphosis means lacking dramatic conflict and not impressing impressionable young boys that they can transform somehow, too. Plus, hidden identities are such a part and parcel of comic book and cartoon heroes they are cliche. I wonder how many men watched that program as lads and later took up hefting iron to make them "he-manical" (or should that be "He-Maniacal"?), too? 

I was an adult by the time the series aired on afternoon television in the early to mid-80's. From what I've read it only lasted 2 seasons but had 130 episodes so the reruns were a staple of syndication for years to come. "He-Man" was nothing if not camp and corny, but then it wasn't made for young gay men who couldn't get a great enough muscle fix through the existing media of the time. It was pointed directly at little boys to market Mattel's toys. Exactly the same way G. I. Joe is marketed to sell toys and soldiers and war. Real men kill and real men sacrifice their lives to protect interests beyond their ken. But first real little boys need to be indoctrinated in a manner they are unaware of and totally enjoy. Tonka trucks for future road warriors. Cap pistols for future cowboys (that was so in my childhood days.). Knives and guns for future soldiers and policeman and a never ending stream of brave and faultless heroic male role models to make gay boys feel extra lesser and over-compensate.

It is amazing to realize just how harmful harmless entertainment can be. What hath Superman wrought? I suppose American males had to use Robin Hood, legends like John Henry, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and Grecian demigods as symbols of purposeful valor before comic book heroes came into vogue. Was it any easier living up to such false and impossible to match symbols of masculinity back then?

So, here in his slightly tarnished but redefined glory is He-man and his stalwart Battle Cat living to fight another day and never ever appearing so unintentionally (or was it unintentional? wink-wink) gay again. But the real reason for watching it is the manimals. 

(The reality of manimals seldom getting to be the heroes is a topic for a later piece. One of too many yet to come.)

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