Sonic: One Opinion

From: Dan Drazen <>
Date: Sun, 28 May 1995 21:20:01 -0400 (EDT)


The following is from a letter my brother sent me after watching STH
(specifically, both installments of "Blast to the Past" and the sort of
lame two-parter that followed (I can't access the ep list at the
moment). I'll say no more and let his comments speak for themselves. I
do invite responses which I intend to pass along.


(excerpted from a letter dated 1/27/95):

Well, you can't say that I didn't give it a chance. This past Saturday
(1/7) I tuned in Sonic to see what was doing. At first I thought the
entire premise of the show dealt with reverse time travel, but
apparently it was just the one episode.

The major influence on that episode was "Quantum Leap" -- the computer
with the holograms (whose name escapes me, even though the show ended
about 20 minutes ago) was a direct cop from Ziggy in QL, as was the
whole notion of going back to the past to change the present/future.
(Actually, the first "Terminator" movie covered some of the same

It's hard for me to avoid deeper criticism of pop culture, so brace
yourself. The nature/machine dichotomy has pretty much been done to
death, from George Lucas' Ewoks to (on a more pessimistic note) H. G.
Wells' "Time Machine". Basically, though, the roboticizer (?) suggested
to me the Borg episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation". All of
this goes back to the same anti-mechanical impulses that gave rise to
the Luddites in 19th Century England. The whole tendency (although not,
oddly enough, the Luddites) is discussed in two of [my brother's wife's]
favorite books: Leo Marx's "The Machine In The Garden" and David Shi's
"The Simple Life," both of which I commend to your attention.

This tendency was carried on in the hyena sequence of the 1/14 program.
That bugs me, only because there are pastorals out there that are much
more honest about nature being, in Tennyson's phrase, "red in tooth and
claw". For example, I've been rereading "The Jungle Book" after years
away from it: Kipling's colonialist politics aside, I'd forgotten his
abilities as a writer, and his willingness to include death in his view
of life. Maybe Sonic doesn't have to go the Kipling route, but
describing the hyenas as "cannibal", while it suggests the universal
bond of all life, makes carnivores seem aberrant. Yet the foxes in the
series should also be considered aberrant, since they are--or should
be--carnivores. The series sidesteps this problem by infantilizing the
foxes, keeping them at a child (at best, adolescent) stage of
development. These anthropomorphs' ancestor is, of course, Bugs Bunny,
whom Richard Adams once dismissed as "a guy in a rabbit suit" who had
nothing to do with real rabbits.

As for the lead Sonic characters, there doesn't seem to be much one can
do with them except use them for their original purpose; the series is,
after all, a half-hour commercial for Sega. The Boss [Robotnik?] is
one-dimensional, but Sonic, Sally and the other forest-folk barely make
it to two-dimensional. If I had to write anything for these critters,
I'd have to invent a lot of biography and motivation along the way. The
character design is nice, but (a) the studio is borrowing Sega's designs
and (b) the studio is, after all, DIC, which has done some good work; I
still think "The Littles" was a couple of steps above the usual Saturday
AM run.

Beyond that, and their essentially adolescent perspective, Sonic and
Sally still pretty much embody the gender stereotyping of commercial
television: she's Appollonian, the planning aspect, while he's the
active, unthinking Dionysian counterpart. You rarely see a female
protagonist, animated or otherwise, who deviates from this. One of the
few, though, who I did like, was Gadget Hackwrench from the "Rescue
Rangers". She combined thinker and actor, and was strong enough to
assert her own personality in a male-dominated mileau.


The preceeding opinion does not necessarily reflect my own. In fact, it

|| ___------__ ||
|| |\__-- /\ _- || Daniel J. Drazen
|| | / __ _ ||
|| //\ / \ /__ ||
|| | o| 0|__ --_ || Custodian of one of the Sonic
|| \\____-- __ \ ___ - || the Hedgehog FAQ Files
|| (_at_@ __/ / /_ ||
|| -_____--- --_ || ASCII Sonic by Han J. Lee

Received on Sun May 28 1995 - 21:30:27 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Thu Mar 19 2015 - 12:17:03 PDT