What I’m Watching Today: Fear of a Punk Planet (1999-2000)

Link to Episode 2

Link to Episode 3

So, I can’t even really remember where I heard about this one. I just wrote it down on my ever-growing “To Watch” list without any context. The title itself caught my attention, it’s the name of a Vandals album from 1990, and in fact, Joe Escalante of the Vandals appears in the show as the owner of a punk club called “Baby Seal”

I can only find 3 episodes of the show online, however Joe Escalante’s Linked-In page says he was the showrunner for 7 episodes. It was created for an early internet television network called The Digital Entertainment Network (DEN). It was the only show on the network that acquired a fan base, and this is likely due to the punk in-jokes that appear throughout the episodes. Apparently, a comic book based on the show was released last year in August, and the episodes are actually available on DVD.

What really intrigued me about the show, and why I ended up watching it, was the inclusion of bands like NOFX and Sick of it All. This is, I think, what makes the show memorable. Kyle Gass, of Tenacious D fame, stars as the Fire Marshall that is always after those dang punk kids, trying to shut down their beloved club.

I really don’t know what to make of this show. At times, it seems to be /r/fellowkids material, but the script was actually written by Joe Escalante as well, so he definitely does have some insight into the scene. Some of the kids on the show make edgy jokes, (warning: shitty joke about sexual assault to follow) like one where the girls of the group talk about how “rape-able” a guy is. Even though these things make me pretty uncomfortable now, it did remind me of some of the kids I hung out with back in the day, and, unfortunately, it is something that would have been said. That said, I still think it’s a dumb and dated thing to include in this script.

The show is cheesy, the jokes are corny, the plot is predictable, and the characters are all straw men, but for some reason I couldn’t turn it off. It has an undeniable charm to it for reasons I can’t entirely explain.

Highlights: 

  • The theme song is The People Who Are Going to Hell by the Vandals, which I love.
  • Kyle Gass is the main highlight of the series. The show’s script is terrible, but he manages to make some poorly written lines laugh out loud funny with his delivery. His first line is actually a great example of this. Joe Escalante, as the club owner is upset with Gass, as the fire marshall, tells him that the club is a fire hazard, and Gass responds:

This place is a fire trap…the wiring is shot, the ventilation is bad. Look, I’m not going to compromise the safety of anyone, even these deviant children.

  • Right after he says that, he calls an Asian girl, “Mulan.” Ooof.
  • Another golden Kyle quote: “It’s time for your freaky friends to go back to whatever misfit holes you crawled out of. This club is unsafe!”
  • Joe Escalante is not a gifted screenwriter or actor.
  • The censorship on the show is interesting. It was only ever on the internet, so they say ‘fuck’ freely, but for some reason the word ‘dick’ is bleeped out?
  • This is definitely a realistic depiction of what a low-budget punk club looks like, though.
  • The fire marshall is so against punks that he CHAINS UP THE FIRE DOOR and frames the club owner for doing it. That’s a fucked up level of corruption.
  • One character condemns another for making a gay joke, and then proceeds to make a bunch of gay jokes about the male-dominated hardcore scene.

“If you’re going to make a gay comment, save it for your H20 dudefest! I mean, do they even let girls into hardcore shows? Or do they spoil your homoerotic cretin moshpit?”

  • The guy in question responds to that comment with “Aaaayyyy! Watch that shit! I’m Italian!”
  • The corrupt Fire Marshall finally gets Club Baby Seal closed, which leaves the punks to figure out how to save their favorite venue.

Punk 1: So, what’s the deal? Why’d they close the Club Seal?

Punk 2: Because they think we’re freaks! So they took away our club hoping we’d disappear! I’m sick of it! I’m tired of being treated like a criminal ’cause my hair is different, and the music I like isn’t on MTV!

  • The dialogue in this show is seriously taking me back to things I said in middle school, and it’s incredibly embarrassing.
  • One girl is a crusty punk, and the butt of many crusty jokes. When Italian guy says, “Ayyy! Leave the little anarchist alone!” She corrects him and says she’s a Republican. Her explanation? “Less Government.”
  • There is a montage of the punks doing research into how to save their club, which has some spectacular shots of late 90s-early 00s punk websites.

anarchy

  • So, as the website says, the punks decide to make the club a non-profit so that damn Fire Marshall can’t shut them down! But then, when they take it to the club owner, he’s not so enthused. But the gang ends up convincing him by shouting his own band’s lyrics about fighting the man at him. Can you imagine if a bunch of teenagers were shouting your teenage poetry at you? Ugh. Makes me shudder even thinking about it.

So, despite it’s obvious weirdness, I think Fear of A Punk Planet is worth watching for any nostalgic former (or current) punk kids.  Also, I would love to hear another human’s feedback, because I’m still not totally sure how I feel about what I just watched.

 

 

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What I’m Watching Today: Hi Honey, I’m Home

Today, I came across a pilot called Hi Honey, I’m home that aired on Nickelodeon in 1991. I’ve been watching a lot of unsold pilots lately, and I was genuinely surprised that I liked this one.

By the way, that younger son is A.J. McLean of Backstreet Boys fame

It’s not perfect, but it’s an interesting concept and I am interested in seeing more. I’m seeing on Wikipedia that there was a first season of this show produced, but thus far I can’t find the episodes anywhere. Please let me know if you’ve ever come across them.

Some Happy YouTube Videos to Get You Through

I’m someone who has struggled with depression for a long time, so for the last couple years, I’ve kept a playlist on YouTube called “Make Me Happy,” so if I ever need a laugh, or a reminder that the world can be a good place, I can go watch my playlist.

I have a feeling some of you are going to need to be cheered up today, so I thought I’d share some stupid internet videos that get me through the tough times.

Deep breaths, folks. It’s all going to be okay.

I saw this video years ago, when I was still in high school and it’s just always stuck with me. It’s a really fantastic little animation, made by artist Dimitri Frazao as his senior film at CalArts.

This video will allow you to feel joy again, however faint the feeling might be right now.

This fish has perfect comedic timing.

Look at this giggling newscaster! One day, you will laugh again!

Go, Pablo, Go!

 

What I’m Watching Today: Pagan Invasion, Vol. 1

From the height of Satanic Panic comes this video guide for parents on the dangers of Halloween. Even though this video is 20+ years old, you can still buy a boxset of all 13 videos.

Highlights: 

  • Did you know that the public school system is the biggest propagator of Halloween? Damn public schools, ruining our children!
  • The top selling genres of film are pornography and horror–proof that our society is going to hell in a hand basket!
  • To ensure the accuracy of horror movies, producers hire practicing witches or satanists as advisers  (Seriously, @7:54)
  • Filmmakers are always trying to convince us that the gentle psyches of American youth cannot be damaged by these gruesome horror films, but in reality copycat crimes from horror movies happen ALL THE TIME
  • A person who grew up with satanist parents and grandparents is interviewed. I wonder if his memories came out while under hypnosis.
  • Crimes involving the occult are reaching epidemic proportions! (says man from 1992)
  • Witchcraft CANNOT be divorced from demonology. Thereby all practicing Wicca or Pagans are evil.
  • There are now (probably) as many practicing witches as there are Christians in England!
  • Roger is a Witch/Martial Arts Expert

witchandmartialartsI wanna know what Roger has a degree in.

  • Satanic ritual abuse is “The Crime of the 90s!”
  • Oh, Jesus Christ! They show mutilated animal bodies! Watch out for that. I didn’t see it coming.
  • One ex-Satanist says that once you do animal sacrifice you just crave more. It’s like cocaine that way.
  • This video has the best green-screened backgrounds

Wow! I wonder what Gothic castle they filmed at?!

  • 87% of 9-year-olds have expressed a desire to kill someone (????) — How do you even gather that kind of data?!

 

Why are Irish McDonald’s Ads so Weird?

This was posted LAST YEAR. Even if it had been posted in like 2009-2010, I would be more understanding, but c’mon. Everyone knows the friendzone is a shitty MRA myth. WTF?

Obviously, these ads are aimed at teen boys. It’s so weird how marketing differs from country to country, right?

It’s really interesting to see how other countries play with their own stereotypes.

Also, why does McDonald’s always look a little better in Europe?

My Favorite Pieces of Barbie History

I have a weird relationship with Barbie dolls.

First of all, I played with them until I was probably like 12, so a little bit beyond when other kids stopped. I built a Barbie Hogwarts in my bedroom, used a cigar box as Harry Potter’s trunk.

Then in college I studied Sociology and Women’s and Gender studies, and spent a semester collecting people’s stories of how they played with Barbie dolls, which I then turned into a paper and then a zine.

Later, I took an experimental video class where I edited pieces of various Barbie advertisements and other symbolically feminine footage (I’m afraid to even look back at the video I made, as I’m sure it was pretty cringe-y and heavy-handed) with a video released to news organizations in 1993 by The Barbie Liberation Organization

The BLO was brought about by the creation of Teen Talk Barbie:

This doll was significant in that each doll said  4 phrases out of a list of 270, meaning that few dolls said the same 4 phrases.  However, the things they had Barbie saying were, generally, pretty fucking sexist. The phrase that got the most media attention, though was, “Math class is tough!”. The company ultimately pulled the phrase from the list, but continued to sell the doll.

Anyway, in my research for these various Barbie projects I’ve undertaken, I’ve watched a lot of Barbie ads, and I thought it would be fun to compile all of my favorites in one central location.

Loving You Barbie (1983) 

I love this ad because it is so strangely queer. The little girls are writing notes telling Barbie how much they love her and they continually state how beautiful she is. Generally Barbie ads cultivate this sort of hero-worship feeling about the doll, but this one just feels romantic.

Color Splash Pocahontas (1995) 

Um. Why does John Smith have a color-changing chest Eagle?

Cool Shavin’ Ken (1996) 

I mean, I know it’s Barbie, but this one is so heteronormative that it kind of grosses me out, and I’m currently in a very hetero relationship. Also, I love the Old Spice tie in.

Astronaut Barbie (1985) 

This one is by far my favorite. Barbie doesn’t even pretend she’s getting anything productive done in space. She even TAKES HER HELMET OFF to dance under a space disco ball. I also love the puffy sleeves on that space suit.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch – The 1970s Cartoon

If you, like me, grew up in the 1990s and swore you saw an animated Sabrina show (that wasn’t the 2000s animated show) late at night on Cartoon Network, YOU WEREN’T DREAMING. It exists!

This iteration of the show definitely has the look of the original Archie comics series. Sabrina’s aunts aren’t nearly as pretty or likable, it’s impossibly sexist, and Harvey is actually somehow dumber than he was in the 90s show.

Also, it’s worse than you remembered. And the theme song is infectious, so watch out.

 

I have to say, I like the short hair look way better on Sabrina.