Showing posts with label Features. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Features. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sesame Street Songs

Some children's entertainment is timeless. If well-executed, a children's show or song has the potential to amuse and engage children across the span of generations. Admittedly, the fact that children are incredibly easily won over may play a part in the perseverance of these songs; most kids tend not to be especially discerning in their taste, nor do they have even a remote sense of what is irritating. Not to mention the fact that many parents are too cheap to replace the old hand-me-down CDs and videocassettes over the years--I know that kept my family watching scratchy VHS tapes for years after their prescribed shelf life had expired. Why buy a new copy of "Follow That Bird" or "Sing the Alphabet" when the original is still in working condition? Exactly.

Whatever the reason for its perseverance, Sesame Street has captured the hearts of children from the 1960s on and its appeal to each subsequent generation has remained strong. The show's music that drew in children in the 70s often remained beloved by children of the 90s and beyond. Many of the versions seen below are from the 70s but have been since replayed or re-recorded for new young viewers. The songs are extremely catchy and make for easy sing-alongs--perfect for children, but as an adult, it occurs to me they would be perfect for my iPod as well. Excuse me for a moment--I'm off to iTunes to add "Put Down the Ducky" to my road trip playlist.

As is the case in everything you see here at Children of the 90s, memory is subjective. Songs that stand out as my favorites probably differ somewhat from your own, so share your own most memorable Sesame Street tunes in the comment section. In fact, you could even link to a video of the song so we can all reminisce along with you! Sound like I'm asking you to do my job? Possibly. I asked nicely, though, so I think we can let it slide.

By the by, if you're looking for your favorite Sesame Street famous musical guests, fear not; I haven't forgotten them as a blatant omission. I've already got a whole post devoted to them. Check it out. See, I'm not so lazy as I might have seemed when I asked for your contributions to this list. I accept your apology for the snap judgment. Don't worry about it.


Rubber Duckie



Now here's a song with some serious mass appeal: in 1970, Rubber Duckie actually charted at a peak number 16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Not too shabby for a song intended to encourage children to bathe.


C is for Cookie



Ah, how we long for the days when Sesame Street's favorite cookie addict was still allowed to freely extol the virtues of sugar-laden snacks. While Snopes has since discounted the raging internet rumor alleging a switchover from Cookie Monster to Veggie Monster, our furry blue cookie consumer doesn't seem quite as ravenous for sweets as he once did. In my day, C was for Cookie and that was good enough for me.


Elmo's Song



Play this one at your own risk. I'm telling you, once it's in there, there's no removing it from your brain. It's entirely likely you will spend at least 24 hours repeating the "La la la la, la la la la, Elmo's soooong" chorus over and over again in your head. Elmo draws you in with his benign cuteness and then BAM! Total cerebral takeover. Well played, Elmo. Well played indeed.


ABC-DEF-GHI



Oh, poor, misguided Big Bird. He sees the alphabet written in chalk on the sidewalk and jumps to the conclusion that it's a long word with a meaning known only to the wise. Children without a comprehensive knowledge of the alphabet are probably equally perplexed by the meaning of "ab-cer-def-gee-jeckle-mernop-kur-stoove-wik-siz," but hopefully they can deduce that they possess an intellectual potential superior to Big Bird and figure it out eventually.


Bein' Green



This song gave Kermit a bad rap for melancholia--his lament of his green hue does seem like a bit of a downer. Apparently a major proportion of child viewers failed to understand that he actually felt okay about being green by the end of the song. That's what you get for trying to engage children through subtlety: total misunderstanding.



Put Down the Duckie



Hoots the Owl tells it like it is. Ernie naively thinks he can play the saxophone while clinging to his dear rubber duckie, but he is sadly mistaken. I suppose you could deduce some sort of anti-materialism message from the song, but most kids probably learned only not to attempt to play the saxophone while holding a small yellow rubber duck.


Sing



"Sing" remains one of the most-sung songs on Sesame Street, which is nearly as impressive as how many versions of the word "sing" I managed to squeeze into this sentence. The Carpenters' cover in 1973 even hit number 3 on the Billboard charts. It's since become a Sesame Street standard; perhaps there's some guest star initiation clause that requires celebrities to churn out a version of "Sing."


The People in Your Neighborhood



This one could possibly stand to be updated for the current decade; the people in our neighborhood have expanded to include the digital cable installation man and the guy in India allegedly named "Mike" who talks us through our Windows 7 installation. That's not to diminish the importance of the postman and the fireman, of course. It's far more likely that kids will still have aspirations of growing up to be one of those than an outsourced technology customer service associate.


I Love Trash



There's not really a "message" in this one, per se, but it stands alone on cuteness. That is, if you consider a garbage can-dwelling monster waxing poetic on the virtues of a good broken telephone or rusty trombone to be "cute." For the record, I do.


I Don't Want to Live on the Moon



Like Ernie, I too feel that I'd like to visit the move, but setting up permanent residence seems like a mistake. That's the lesson here, right? An anti-gravity locale is a tough full-time homestead? Okay, okay, fine, maybe it has something to do with appreciating what you have here at home. Darn you, Sesame Street, and your resonant life lessons.


Monster in the Mirror



We could all take a page from Grover's book: rather than being frightened by the monster in his mirror, he chooses to befriend it. To be fair, he is that monster, but I'm sure there's a nugget of educational wisdom in there somewhere. I think it's hidden in the "Wubba, wubba, wubba, woo, woo, woo" section.


Ladybug Picnic



Learn how to count and delight in watching ladybugs engage in adorable picnic activities? Where do I sign up? Of course, not all of the lyrics are totally relatable for small children. That line about the ladybugs' conversation about the high price of furniture and rugs and fire insurance for ladybugs may have gone a tad over their heads, but luckily they were distracted by the cute animation.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Children of the Nineties One-Hit Wonder Mash-Up : 1999


We're still working our way (albeit extremely gradually) through the one-hit wonders of the 1990s. Up today: 1999, a glorious year for wildly popular songs from a group of artists who for the most part quietly faded into obscurity. 1999 was particularly ripe with one-hit phenomenons, giving us some of the most memorable and inexplicably bizarre top-charting hits of the decade.

In many of these cases, it's more than clear why an outrageously top-selling follow-up was not in the cards for these performers. The general public felt we have heard more than enough from many of these artists; without this sentiment, we may have been subjected to such unnecessary hits as "Green (Do Bee Do)." No thanks.

That said, a few of these acts seemed fairly promising and capable of a long career. For whatever reason, though, even the legitimate musicians among this group have since been relegated to has-been status--at least in the eyes of the pop music charts. It's a tough business, but hopefully they're still milking the royalties from their ubiquitous play in grocery stores and dentist offices. We can only hope.


B*witched: C'est La Vie



Just from the intro, you know this song doesn't take itself especially seriously. The Irish girl group begins their top-charting hit with the spoken exchange, "Some people think I look like me dad," "What? Are you serious?" Brilliant. It's all uphill from here though, from the Three Little Pigs huffing and puffing wolf reference to the ultimately necessary traditional Irish music dance break.


Lou Bega: Mambo No. 5



Lou Bega's cover of Perez Prado's 1949 jive hit quickly shot to popularity, resulting in innumerable parodies of the song's lyrics and structure. None, though, perhaps as ridiculous as the version Lou Bega himself recorded for the G-rated Radio Disney cut. There's no real words to describe the ridiculousness of replacing "liquor store" with "candy story" and extolling the virtues of "A little bit of Minnie in my life/A little bit of Mickey by her side."


Everlast: What It's Like



Ah, now here's a pick-me-up--the story of a beggar outside the liquor store, a pregnant teenager contemplating abortion, and a violent-prone guy with an alcohol problem. Everlast sang the blues over mainstream society's indifference to the plight of the less fortunate. A legitimate and powerful message, no doubt, but not exactly the cheeriest song to top the 1999 charts.


New Radicals: You Get What You Give



"You Get What You Give" is a classic upbeat ode to youth culture, featuring a classic "be yourself" feel-good message. No matter how many times I listen to this song, I've yet to accomplish the difficult feat of actually memorizing all of the lyrics. To this day, the extent of my ability to sing along with this song is, "Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson, Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson....[unknown]...we'll kick your ass in!" I know there's got to be more than that, but my brain is clearly not wired to remember it.


Eiffel 65: Blue (Da Ba Dee)



Of all of the strange one-hit wonders out there, this has to be one of the strangest. It really pushes the rationale of quality equals popularity for mainstream music. "Blue" truly a difficult song to defend on the basis of quality, though its undeniable catchiness is no doubt the foundation of its rise to fame. It's a serious earworm; one listen and you're destined to be humming this one all day.


Eagle-Eye Cherry: Save Tonight



There's something uniquely appealing about a song with a highly repetitive chorus and lyrics. Eagle Eye Cherry managed to repeat the words, "Save tonight" and "Tomorrow I'll be gone" so many times that they will be forever burned into our memory centers. Oddly enough, I have heard "Save Tonight" numerous times over the past few years sung as a campfire song. Perhaps the simplicity of the chords is to blame, but I can't say I saw that one coming a decade back.


Baz Luhrmann: Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)



Yes, the directorial force behind Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge is the voice of the "Wear Suncreen" song. The song was adapted from a Chicago Tribune column geared toward giving the class of 1997 some "advice, like youth, probably wasted on the young." An urban legend sprung up that the speech was one given as a commencement address by Kurt Vonnegut, a rumor that bore no fruit but spoke volumes about the power of the internet to pull stuff out of nowhere.


Shawn Mullins: Lullaby



Here's another song that shows a song doesn't need to be all sunshine and smiles to top the charts. Shawn Mullins' melancholy tone resonated well with listeners and made for an easy sing-along with its chorus of "Everything's going to be all right, rock-a-bye, rock-a-bye." To this day, I still think of LA as "Nashville with a tan." Thanks, Mullins.


Vengaboys: We Like to Party



"We like to party, we like to party, we like to party, we like to party....We like to party! We like! We to party!" With lyrics like those, how could you not have a hit on your hands? It's tough to imagine the endless laborious hours that went into crafting the perfect words to express the Vengaboy's fondness of partying. Luckily, they had the Vengabus as an apt setting for making the magic happen.


Tal Bachman: She's So High



Whenever I worry about how I measure up to someone potentially superior, I simply use the following litmus test: Is she like Cleopatra? How about Joan of Arc? Any similarities to Aphrodiiiiiiiite? If so, she's probably pretty high above me. A foolproof system.


Len: Steal My Sunshine



If you're looking for a light and fluffy summer song to play out by the pool, "Steal My Sunshine" ought to shoot to the top of your list. It's airy and fun with little substance, making it a perfect choice for a poolside song. I'm still at a loss for the meaning of Len's album title, "You Can't Stop the Bum Rush." Maybe some Canadians out there can enlighten me, but I've always assumed it translates to exactly what it sounds like. Gross.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Outdoor Toys of the 80s and 90s

If you're a regular reader, it should be pretty clear your loyal 90s nostalgia chronicler has a serious case of summer fever. As we close in on Memorial Day weekend, the prospect of summertime fun is almost too much to bear. Granted, I don't have any water balloon fights or Jart tournaments scheduled, but the notion of sunshine and the great outdoors still elicits a childlike level of euphoria. For the record, my weekend is still open for Jart tournaments if you're interested in setting something up.

It's a safe bet to say we will never fully recapture that childhood school's-out-for-the-summer level of excitement; there is simply no adult equivalent to that level of anticipation. All the Moon Shoes in the world couldn't eliminate the grown-up stressors we face year round. Though, to be fair, I imagine it would help. Open reader plea: send Moon Shoes. That is all.

Though we may not be able to reignite the spark of summer vacation excitement, we can at least reminisce about some of the toys that made our summertimes so special. If you're lucky, maybe you still have some of these items lying around. Seriously, what I wouldn't do for a Skip-It right about now. Forget the gym membership--that little pink piece of plastic is way more motivating exercise.


Skip-It


Who could have foreseen that strapping a little plastic ball and chain to your ankle could provide hours of endless entertainment? That little progressive counter on the side tapped into the competitive child psyche, allowing us to compete against our friends and our own personal bests while playing quietly in the driveway. I imagine our parents were thrilled for the long-stretches of easily amused and generally exhausting play.


Rollerblades

Kids today may not believe it, but many of us were around for a time when rollerskates were still the gold standard in wheeled footwear. Inline skates were modeled after ice skates, intended for training use on dry land. Soon they were all the rage, a trend from which many of us learned the value of a deeply skinned knee. Regardless, rollerblades will forever be superior to today's alternative. Don't even get me started on those wheelie sneakers. Every time I see a kid rolling by me at the mall, I yearn to buy him a pair of rollerblades. They just don't know what they're missing.


Moon Shoes


The advertisements for Nickelodeon moon shoes were everywhere, though I never actually knew anybody that owned a pair. Had I been better connected on the playground, perhaps I could have experienced the wonder of spring walking firsthand. Alas, I will never know the gravity-reduced wonder of moonwalking. Until that whole colonization thing goes down. Or maybe if I become a great Michael Jackson-style dancer. Either way.


Super Soakers


One of the most effective ways to beat the summer heat is with a water fight, and we all know the key to winning a water fight lies in the proper arsenal of weaponry. Armed with our Super Soakers, we could outblast flimsy conventional water guns. In case you're not big on Super Soaker trivia, you may be interested to know they were originally branded as Power Drenchers. Or maybe you won't be. Who knows. Either way, the toy makers obviously got their hands on a thesaurus somewhere down the line.


Power Wheels


These much-coveted but oft-denied overpriced mini vehicles undoubtedly caused many temper tantrums over the years. We just couldn't understand why our parents wouldn't shell out the big bucks for one of these babies. If only I'd gotten the mock motorbike I wanted, I could be a bona fide Kawasaki ninja by now. At the very least, I'd hold a chance at being a proficient Barbie Jeep operator.


Nerf Balls
Finally, a company that recognizes kids throw things at one another and it can really, really hurt. Through the clever use of foam, the quantity of bruises per square inch decreased dramatically. Getting hit in the face just got that much more bearable. Thanks, Nerf!


Little Tykes Cozy Coupe


Here's a fact you might not know about your favorite child-sized vehicle: In the early 90s, it was reported that the Cozy Coupe had outsold both the Ford Taurus and Honda Accord, making it one of the bestselling cars of the time. It's certainly more economical than a Taurus or Accord, plus it gets way better gas mileage. The downside? Sore feet from all the Flintstone-style acceleration. You can't win 'em all.


Lawn Darts (Jarts)


Ah, finally a toy that combines the tranquil peacefulness of lawns with the terrifying risk of death by impalement. I'm not sure how or why these toys ever eked past the watchful eye of safety experts and parent groups, but somehow they made it into production and onto toy store shelves. It wasn't long before the US and Canada issued a ban on the sale of Lawn Darts and urged consumers to "discard or destroy them immediately." Yikes.


Slip n'Slide


Speaking of dangerous yard toys, here's a classic example of how innocent concepts can go very very wrong. I'll give you a hint when setting up your own slip n' slide: try your best to avoid cement or a downhill descent into a wall/sidewalk/pile of jagged rocks/any other bone breakin', tooth chippin' slide stopper. It sounds like common sense, but you may be surprised how many people failed to consider the consequences until their child was hobbling around in a cast or sling for the remainder of the summer.

Also, note to college students: It may seem like a good idea to combine a slip n' slide with alcohol. It is not. Believe me. Resist your instincts. Your limbs will thank me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Movie Montages


It's a prickly situation: you've brought your characters to a certain point, having effectively developed their hopes and dreams, but you aren't quite sure how to proceed in a time-efficient manner. Maybe you have to condense a year's worth of training into a three minute span. Perhaps you're looking to establish a motive for an otherwise inexplicably hardened criminal character. Or maybe, just maybe, a ragtag group of local kids just want to clean up the old rec center with a coat of fresh paint and a gloss of idealistic optimism. We can only hope.

Whatever the major plot hole, you can always enlist a dependable movie montage to plug these troublesome leaks. It's a sort of screenplay all-purpose grout to eliminate the cracks in between well-thought out plot points. We all know actual story development is tough--too tough, sometimes. Yes, we could probably have spent some time delving into the deeper issues and motivations at play, but montages do the trick in a pinch.

If you're looking to amp up your film's soundtrack, the montage is also a source of great musical inspiration. If you ever want anyone to listen to your movie's soundtrack while training for a marathon or somehow otherwise dreaming the impossible dream, it's imperative you back up your inspiring montage with an equally inspirational song. Imagine the Karate Kid montage without Joe Esposito's "You're the Best Around" blaring in the background. Nothing, right? Now add the song. Ahhh. Perfection.

Still lost on when to insert a montage into your roughly edited film project? Here are some handy hints from our friends from Team America: World Police:



If you're still looking for clarification on how to insert a cop-out montage to illustrate a major point in your film, try your best to adapt your montage vision to one of the following categories:

Training



This is the most common montage, and with good reason: how else are you supposed to illustrate the ups and downs of a trying training period in a short period of time? Real time training footage would be brutal--watching people lift weights is, honestly, incredibly boring. Plus, I can do it at the gym for free. Even then, I'd prefer to have a pump-it-up song playing on my iPod. It just works.

The training montage has many recognizable hallmarks, such as general physical exercise, excessive sweating, and repeated near-miss attempts to achieve some seemingly unattainable martial arts move/dance step/boxing feat. This last device is supposed to leave us in suspense about whether or not our hero will reach this particularly challenging goal, but its presence in the montage is a sure sign they absolutely will.

As Seen In: The Karate Kid, Dirty Dancing, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and of course, all of the Rocky Movies--they practically invented the inspirational training montage


Falling in Love



In real life, meeting your mate is rarely a linear process. In movies, however, we've got to keep things moving for the sake of our viewers' sanity. Instead of experiencing a series of ups and downs over a long period of time, some films conveniently repackage the lengthy process into a mere two or three minutes. It may not be entirely accurate, but it's can be significantly more palatable than watching the full drawn-out process post meet-cute.

As Seen In: The Lion King. Can you feel the love tonight? They could. Montage style.


It's All Good



Everything going well, but you don't know how to convey it to the audience? Don't worry, there's a montage out there for you. The "It's All Good" model was designed specifically to portray a general Era of Good Feelings in your story. It's pretty boring to just watch a successful business run its day-to-day operations, so why not invest in some cheesy cut-together footage of the whole gang high fiving at their victories? It sure beats watching them change the office thermostat and answer the phone.

As Seen In: Ghostbusters, subverted and played for laughs in The Naked Gun


Let's Build Something Together



This is a pure 80s montage trope, exuding cheesiness from its every frame. According to the background music, all it takes is "One Foot in Front of the Other" to call to arms your mismatched group of social outcasts. Apparently with enough editing, even the nerdiest among us can look like construction experts and painting pros.

The Revenge of the Nerds scene was mocked mercilessly in an episode of Family Guy where the guys try to fix a dilapidated bar. To be fair, Family guy mocks everything mercilessly and this montage totally deserved it. You can't put out something this cheesy without an openness to endless parody.


As Seen In: Revenge of the Nerds



Overcoming Obstacles/Achieving Once-Impossible Goals

I know, I know, it sounds suspiciously similar to the training montage, but bear with me here for a few moments as I take you on a journey through the magical world of meeting our potential by being our honest selves. Sounds boring, right? It is. that's exactly why we need a montage--to move things along at a watchable speed.

In some cases (see: Back to School, Legally Blonde, other school-heavy movies) a montage is really your only out. Studying in itself is not a suspenseful or exciting activity, so if can show a clock spinning past the hours that would really help move things along. There's only so long the audience will tolerate watching a main character read quietly to himself. Don't push it.

Not all examples are quite so low-key. In Teen Wolf, Scott believes in himself--basketball montage style--just enough to resist "wolfing out" during the big game. What's that? That made no sense? Don't worry, it doesn't help if you've seen the movie. That actually might just make it more confusing. Either way, Scott defies the standard werewolf-to-human degeneration of basketball prowess and wins the big game. Hooray!

As Seen In: Legally Blonde, Teen Wolf, Back to School

Monday, May 24, 2010

School's Out for the Summer: Summertime Movies and Shows

Though most of us as adults don't get the luxury of the feverish excitement leading up to summer vacation, summertime still brings many of us a distinct sense of relaxation and fun. Even while we're cooped up working all day, it's a bit heartening to see the sunshine poking through the window of our cell--er, cubicle. It may not be a summer at the rec center pool or sleep-away camp, but we've got to take it where we can get it.

At the very least, the season gives us the chance to re-watch some of our old childhood summertime favorites. Or, failing that, you can at least read about it here while sneaking a break at work. It's minor consolation for those of us stuck pencil pushing, though hey, it's something. You won't get a savage tan or learn to swim a mean backstroke, but hopefully you'll crack a smile or two. At this point, that may be the best we can ask for as we count down to the glorious work-free Memorial Day weekend.

So kick back, relax, and take a journey into summertimes past. Well, don't kick back too much; I don't want to be blamed when your boss gets on your case about sipping frozen margaritas on the job. Use your discretion here.


Heavyweights



Here's a fun little-known 90s fact: did you know Heavyweights was produced by Judd Apatow? Oh, and that Ben Stiller plays a variation of that guy he played in Dodgeball and his father plays his father, just like in all those other movies? I admit this trivia is vague, but summertime research is for nerds. Anyway, who knew a movie about fat camp participants trying to take down a malicious fitness infomercial star could be so funny? The premise might not sound like much, but I promise, it's worth your while.


Salute Your Shorts



How many 90s kids out there hear the opening bars of reveille and immediately break into the Camp Anawanna song? It's almost a reflex. Now it's "I hope we never part" not "You make me wanna fart," so get it right or pay the price. Geez.


The Parent Trap



To this day, the main reason I want to learn how to play poker is with the secret hope that "Bad to the Bone" will spontaneously start blaring in the background. Well, secret's out. It's probably not worth it, anyway; I'm not so sure I'd have the guts to jump in the lake naked if I lost.


Now and Then



To girls growing up in the 90s, Now and Then is a legitimate classic. It's just the right blend of humor, coming-of-age drama, and just a dash of shmaltz thrown in for good measure. With its four distinct "types," we all had a character to whom to relate. Personally, I always fancied myself something of a Teeny.


The Sandlot



There's something about a good sports-themed coming of age film that has the power to take you back to a simpler time. To the kids of the Sandlot, the most important priorities for the summer are to play ball, kiss teenage lifeguards, and rescue their bat from the jaws of the dreaded Beast. Throw in some stomach-turning amusement park forays into chewing tobacco use and you've got yourself a hilarious--albeit nausea inducing--summertime adventure.


The Babysitter's Club




Oh, how my friends and I longed to boost an academically challenged peer's self confidence by staging an elaborate biology review complete with "The brain, the brain, the center of the chain" chant. Some abnormally responsible middle school girls have all the luck. I never even got to lie about my age to a 17-year old boy while simultaneously concealing the truth about my diabetes. Sigh.


Camp Nowhere



You have to love a movie built on the premise of a harebrained scheme dreamed up by a bunch of preteens. Even though our rational adult minds know nothing like this would ever unfold in real life, it's infinitely fun to imagine a world where a bunch of kids and Doc Brown could join forces to start a fake camp.


Saved by the Bell: Malibu Sands



Only Saved by the Bell has the power to condense a summer's worth of zany situation comedy and inevitable romantic drama into a neatly packaged six episodes. The show set the bar on introducing and subsequently disregarding all signs of existence of temporary characters, so it's no surprise Zack's romance with Stacey Carosi was short-lived. It was fun to see the whole gang living it up at the Malibu Sands club, but there's only so many beach storylines to go around. Once the girls battled it out in the Miss Liberty pageant, we knew it was time to go home.



Dirty Dancing



If you're interested in having the time of your life and feeling a way you've never felt before, I advise you pack up your things and head to a resort in the Catskills for summer break. There's a chance you might defy your affluent family by falling in love with a working-class guy from the wrong side of the country club kitchen, but that's a chance you've to be willing to take.


Dazed and Confused



Only a skillfully directed movie can stretch the meandering events of a single day into an interesting slice of everyday high school anthropology. Dazed and Confused takes us through the last day of school from the hazing to loitering to partying to eventually getting busted by the cops. It may sound as if I just gave away the whole movie in a short sentence, but don't worry. I didn't even get to the part where he listens to "Slow Ride" on his headphones. Oops. Sorry about that. Anyway, you should absolutely invest in this soundtrack; it's brilliant.

Runner Up: Wet Hot American Summer. Sure, it came out in 2001, but it's 80s themed and one of my favorite movies of all time. If you haven't seen it, it's imperative that you go out and rent it immediately. That's an order.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Memorable 80s and 90s Teen Movie Songs

Don't forget to enter Children of the 90s $60 CSN Store Gift Certificate Giveaway! You have one more day to qualify for the prize!



If only our own high school experiences had come with their own signature soundtrack, we may have had a better idea of how to properly process our emotions. It's tough to try to have a pensive moment without something deep and soulful playing in the background. Believe me, I've tried.

Real life just can't always measure up to the effective power of a good soundtrack. When the moviemakers choose just the right song, it can skillfully set the mood for a crucial moment. From that point on, whenever we hear that song out of the context of the movie, our minds are likely to transport us back to the scene. A solid song choice has the power to cement the moment in our heads forever, iconic for posterity,

Some of these teen movie moments are silly and some are serious, but they all have one thing in common: they're highly memorable. Without the music, many of these scenes may not be especially worthy of remembering. With the music, though, they create defining moments in the teen movie canon. To create an exhaustive list would be, well, exhausting, so consider these to be a mere skimming of the teen movie music moment surface.


She's All That: Rockafeller Skank



This scene is undoubtedly cheesy, but it's enough to make a tiny part of us wish our own proms had included a highly choreographed school-wide dance number. Granted, most of our peers in high school probably weren't capable of professional-level dance moves, but it may have been fun to watch them try.

10 Things I Hate About You: Can't Take My Eyes Off of You



It's more than enough to make us all mourn the loss of Heath Ledger. He just oozes charm in this scene, allowing us to suspend our disbelief that a high school boy might actually have thought up something legitimately romantic. To be fair, Ledger was 20 years old at the time, so no wonder's his musical seduction outstrips the average high school boy's in maturity.


Can't Hardly Wait: Can't Get Enough of You Baby



Smashmouth must have written this song with the racially deluded white rapper Kenny Fisher in Mind. Seth Green plays this moment to absolute perfection. I suppose if I had to practice romancing myself in the mirror, I could use some good musical motivation, too. Granted, most of us don't need quite as much musical lubrication as Kenny to woo our own reflections. Then again, most of us don't wear goggle/JNCO jeans combos.


Ferris Bueller's Day Off: Twist and Shout



Next time I come across a Von Steuben Day parade, I am totally pulling a Ferris. If the band doesn't know "Twist and Shout," I'm willing to settle for "Danke Schoen." Anything else would just clash with the float girls' Heidi-esque German barmaid ensembles.


Say Anything: Your Eyes



Ah, the moment that inspired a generation of young girls to daydream about the moment a boy would stand in their yard with a boombox held persistently over their heads. This is a moment that might lose of of its recreatability over time. What are kids today supposed to do? Hold wireless iPod speakers over their head? Please. It just isn't the same.


Breakfast Club: Don't You (Forget About Me)



Simple Minds recorded "Don't You (Forget About Me)" specifically for the Breakfast Club, so it's no wonder it comes across as particularly poignant in this coming of age film. Simple Minds may not have gone on to do great things, but they're probably rolling in royalties from all of the many, many Breakfast Club parodies in movies and TV in the years since the original.


Clueless: Kids in America



So you're probably thinking to yourself, "Is this like a Noxema commerical or what?" Cher claims the answer is "or what," but I'm tempted to believe otherwise. No real high schoolers ever frollick in their backyard waterfalls. At least none who attended my high school. Maybe you all grew up in heavily waterfall-populated neighborhoods.


Center Stage: The Way You Make Me Feel



Michael Jackson may have released "The Way You Make Me Feel" back in 1987, but a new generation of teens fell in love with the song after hearing it in the climactic dance performance in the 2000 ballet film Center Stage. It was almost enough to distract us from Jody's impossible pink-to-red shoe switcharoo.


Cruel Intentions: Bittersweet Symphony



Exposing the popular girl in school for dipping into the secret cocaine stash in her cross necklace may not seem like a particularly poignant moment, but back it up with the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" and prepare to be moved. Really.


Pretty in Pink: If You Leave



It's pretty much impossible to hear Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "If You Leave" without immediately recalling the final scene in Pretty in Pink. Runner-up for most impossible? Spelling "manoeuvres". That's a tough one, at least for the ignorant Americans among us.


Romeo and Juliet: Lovefool



The Cardigan's major hit single aptly set the mood for the romantic meeting moment between Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio as Juliet and Romeo. Their eyes lock across an aquarium, which sounds highly unromantic without "Lovefool" playing in the background. It just works.

Note: Yes, I realize some of these videos don't contain the actual scenes. It's the best we can do with the YouTube copyright crackdown. Thanks for your understanding.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Your Favorite Childhood Movies: Results of the Semi-Scientific Reader's Choice Vote

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The results are in! Well, sort of--perhaps we should say the preliminary results are in; there's still time to let me know your favorites for a follow-up post. In the case of short term memory failure, allow me to remind you about Children of the 90s' impromptu polling for your favorite childhood movies. A few days back, we asked for your write-in votes for the movies you most loved growing up. That is, these movies don't necessarily have to be the most objectively good movies out there, but ones that effectively bring us back to our respective childhoods.

This list doesn't represent any actual empirical data; I'm willing to admit our methods were a bit haphazard. That's part of the fun, though. If you want your voice heard, lurkers, the comment section is beckoning. Don't stew quietly over the omission of your opinions--let us know. In the spirit of true interactivity, share a bit. Really, it's fun.

Based on those of you I did hear from, it's pretty fair to judge the way the readership demographic skews. Much to the chagrin of my boyfriend (who, to his credit, did his part in participating in this democratic experiment by submitting the only vote for Independence Day) this list speaks volumes on the female-dominated fan base here at Children of the 90s. Unless a major contingency of young men have a spot reserved in their hearts from A Little Princess and Troop Beverly Hills, it seems safe to surmise the majority of the voters are female. Sorry, guys. This is what happens if you don't comment. Lesson learned, I assume. No hard feelings.

Here are your choices, in some particular order. That's the opposite of no particular order, right? Whatever the expression that conveys they're sorted by tabulated votes but that Excel has alphabetized the ties. Don't fight it, it makes perfect sense. You with me? Great. Let's begin:


10. Camp Nowhere



When your and your friends' parents are dead set on sending you to variations on dreaded summer camp, you pretty much have no other option other than to stage an elaborate kid-run ruse rich in wacky misunderstanding and parent-free fun. If you can think of another solution, I'm willing to hear you out, but I'm almost positive this zany scheme is it--though it could possibly be classified as a last resort. Yes, I said resort, and it was totally a camp pun. Admit it, you loved it.


9. The Lion King



There was a surprising deficit of Disney in the write-in voting results, but I assume most of us take the animated films of the 90s' Disney Renaissance to be something of a given. Many of them not only won universal approval from indiscriminate children, but appealed to adults as well. The Lion King is a particularly creative and visually impressive film, full of deep messages for the parents and comic relief warthog farting references for the kiddos.


8. Annie



The 1982 film adaptation of the popular musical may have received mixed reviews from critics, but as kids anything with songs to sing along to ranked pretty high on our favorites. Plus, it gave us a great start on learning all the words to Jay Z's "Hard Knock Life" a decade and a half later. Even if we couldn't all relate to his experiences, we could at least pantomime sweeping along to the chorus like the orphans did in the movie.


7. Matilda



Matilda differed in many ways from the original Roald Dahl story, giving us an Americanized and slightly toned-down version of the darkly humorous children's novel. Then-child star Mara Wilson stars as a prodigy raised by ignorant and uninterested parents in a sufficiently adorable way. They did manage to keep in a bit of the creepiness--I still occasionally have nightmares about being locked in the Chokey.


6. My Girl



Frequent movie cryers, rejoice. My Girl is one of those movies that made it okay to cry in the theater, most likely because everyone else was sobbing along with you. That's what they get for tragically killing off one of their lovable characters with a bee sting allergy--a flood of tears. Thankfully, the humor counter-balances the malady. If nothing else, we all learned to open our mouths, reveal our partially chewed food, and declare it "see-food."


5. A Little Princess



As a child, I wondered why I constantly confused this movie with The Secret Garden. Turns out they were both based on books written by Frances Hodgseon Burnett. Considering I read them both, you would think I would have put the pieces together. You would think wrong. In both of these films, I deeply envied the young girls' life in India and subsequent quiet coming of age adventures. I'm still torn on whether I'd rather have a key to an overgrown forgotten garden or be the most popular girl in boarding school. It's safe to say both remain fairly attractive options.


4. The Princess Bride



To those of you out there who told me you've never seen this one, you need to buckle down and settle in for a viewing. It's truly a classic, from its quirky characters to a preadolescent Fred Savage. The Princess Bride deftly maneuvers its positions as both a fairy tale in its own right and a parody of the genre. Needless to say, if you have not watched it since childhood, you might want to dust off the old VHS; it has a cleverness and wit we did not all pick up on as young kids.


3. Troop Beverly Hills



This movie was like girlhood gospel to my friends and I, so imagine my surprise to find it was absolutely ripped apart by critics. They refused to even crack a smile at Shelly Long's ridiculous get-ups or the "Cookie Time" song. The only likely verdict is that they all have hearts of stone. That "Cookie Time" song is pure gold.


2. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead



Films we loved as kids defy a need for logic, usually requiring a heaping helping of suspension of disbelief. Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead is a classic example, with its that-would-absolutely-never-happen premise and the dumping of their old lady babysitter's body on the steps of a funeral home. Aside from all of that, it's a fun movie that appeals to kids in the classic no-parents style. Sue Ellen Crandell is still my fashion icon, just for the record.


1. Clueless



This was the standout winner in our pseudo-scientific poll, receiving by far the most votes for favorite childhood movie. It's no wonder we all loved it so much, considering its impact on our generation. Without Cher Horowitz, who knows? We may never have uttered the words "As if!" while wearing a pair of knee socks. A sad prospect, indeed.

Honorable Mentions: TMNT, Neverending Story, Mrs. Doubtfire, All of the Home Alone Movies--unfortunately none of you could agree on which one was the foremost contender in the series, diluting the votes over the three installments. Better luck next time, Home Alone fans. I recommend banding together with purpose next time around.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Popular School-Age Children's Books, Part II

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It's been quite the democratic week here at Children of the 90s. Admittedly it's only Tuesday, so we still have plenty of time to get all anarchical on you, but as of yet we've been riding the reader response train. You guys are just chock full of good ideas, so until you run out I'm going to milk your suggestions for all they're worth. Which, for the record, is quite a lot. So, you know. Thanks.

For those of us who grew up as voracious readers, this list is potentially endless. There were so many popular and influential books that shaped our childhood and reading habits. To answer your questions before the protests begin, we've already covered ad nauseum series including Sweet Valley High, The Babysitters' Club, Goosebumps, and Choose Your Own Adventure. Yes, they made up a major bulk of our leisure reading, but they are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of children's literary material. Feel free to peruse the backlogs, though--those series are all worth a reminiscence or two of their own.

Based on many of your suggestions, I've put together Part II of our popular book list below. Don't see your favorites on here? Don't worry. These extra-long posts have a way of getting sort of unwieldy, so in the spirit of streamlining and readability I've conveniently parceled this out over a series of posts. If you have other suggestions, drop them in the comments. And for those of you eagerly awaiting the Reader's Choice childhood movie awards, we'll leave the commenting open for a few more days to let the ideas soak a bit. Watch for that post, coming to a Children of the 90s near you very, very soon. Get pumped.

Our second installment of popular elementary school-age reading material form the 80s and 90s includes:

The Giver

Despite its frequent banning, The Giver remains a popular book for school-age children. The subject matter may be a bit heavy for young readers--a tightly controlled dystopian future society a la 1984--but its creepiness resonates well with imaginative kids. Sure, I used to semi-fantasize/semi-worry that my eye color had marked me as the bearer of the world's technicolor memories, but as of yet I have not been called to official Receiver duty.


The Sign of the Beaver


Elizabeth George Speare's The Sign of the Beaver is another classic example of cultural and historical lessons cleverly disguised as fun reading. Well done, Speare. Like Hatchet, Sign allows our imaginations to run wild at the prospect of a preteen left to fend for himself. In this case, however, Matt comes upon a Native American family and befriends the young son, Attean. Attean teaches Matt about the ways of Nature, Matt teaches Attean to read, and we all share a heartwarming story of prejudices overcome.


Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry


Roll of Thunder was technically released in the mid-70s, but the last post brought on numerous requests for its placement on the list so I decided to make a rare exception. The books examines the life and hardships of a black family struggling to hold on to their land against the tumultuous backdrop of 1930s Mississippi. Like many of these books, the themes are heavy--racism, prejudice, injustice--but the storytelling style brings it to a manageable level for young readers.


Shiloh

I love me some Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, so there's a special spot in my heart for the book that introduced me to her writing. Shiloh tells the story of a young boy who takes in a stray dog in hopes of protecting him from his abusive former owner. It's heartbreaking in a quiet, non-earth shattering way, and sometimes I still imagine my adopted shelter dog was once under the iron fist of the unsavory Judd Travers.


Ramona Quimby, Age 8


The sixth installment in the Ramona series is an ode to the minorly mischievous but ultimately sensitive child, starting with Ramona's unfortunate cafeteria egg incident and her subsequent overhearing of her teacher calling her a nuisance. The book continues in other delightful non-sequiturs; unlike many children's books that seem to be an adult's take on the way children think, Beverly Cleary manages to tap into that mysterious child psyche and give us a story that's simultaneously about nothing in particular and something important. Depending on the age of the reader, that is.


Jacob Have I Loved

Katherine Paterson's title references the biblical line, "Jacob have I loved, but Esau I have hated," regarding the story of Isaac's mismatched fraternal twin sons. Sarah Louise despises her position in the shadows of her prettier, better loved sister Caroline. The book is told from Sarah Louise's ("Weeze's") perspective, giving us insight into her jealousy and feelings of marginalization. The themes of sibling rivalry and intense envy can get a little depressing, but we've got some creepy romantic feelings between a 13-year old girl and 70-year old man to keep the pace exciting.


Island of the Blue Dolphins


This one is a bit of a cheat, too, as it was published in the 60s, but its popularity among young readers held steady throughout the ensuing decades. It's yet another tale of a child left to fend for himself, only in this case that "himself" is more of a "herself." The book is loosely based on the true story of Juana Maria, portrayed in Islands as Wonapalei, known secretly as Karana. After Karana's people are devastated by invading Aleuts, the tribe embarks on a ship for the mainland. Karana's brother is left behind, so her only logical solution is to jump ship and live with him on a secluded island. Did I say logical? I'm sorry, I meant book-worthy. Her brother dies nearly immediately, leaving Karana to take on packs of wild but eventually lovable dogs and to take hold of her own survival. I won't give away the entire book, but suffice it to say it's nice to see a female lead in these solo adventure stories every once in awhile.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Children of the 90s' Top 10 Highly Recommended Daria Episodes


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In honor of this week's long-awaited Daria DVD release, Children of the 90s is counting down 10 favorite Daria episodes. While we're not licensed to officially prescribe you anything, we can highly recommend that you spend the requisite time emerged in fully focused Daria viewership. Really, you won't regret it. If nothing else, it will remind you of a time when MTV was so much more than just The Hills and World's Strictest Parents. Oh, the memories.

Daria fans have been calling for the release of all five seasons on DVDs for years, so it's with great pleasure that devoted Daria-heads embrace the 8-disc full series DVD release from MTV/Paramount. Truthfully, all of the episodes are worth watching; Daria gave us some the wittiest, cleverest, smartest humor ever seen on MTV to date. That's not exactly the top litmus test for intelligent, TV, of course; Date my Mom doesn't exactly register in the same tier.

Something must be right in the world. My digital cable's MTV on Demand is even offering the Daria! Musical as a free promotional feature. Verizon Fios must have known I needed some background inspiration on the big screen to write to. Oh, glorious day! The stars have aligned at last. For those of us with a penchant for sarcastic humor, we can now freely celebrate our 90s quipping idol without violating important copyright laws. Well, except for the clips I've posted here. To be fair, I didn't post them and I totally recommend you buy the series for your own collection.

When you do, here are ten of my favorites to check out. I'm obviously leaving out a horde of great material, so share your own favorites in the comments section. If you don't have any favorites, you've got a lot of make-up work to do. Let's get started:

The Invitation



Even in the second episode of the first season, the Daria writers were well on their way to establishing complex and well-fleshed out adolescent characters. They aptly captured the high school social hierarchy with a tongue-in-cheek commentary on its de facto caste system. Popular cheerleader Brittany invites outcast Daria to her weekend soiree, which Daria takes as a prime opportunity to humiliate social cliber younger sister Quinn. We also get a good look at Quinn's ubiquitous suitors, Jamie, Jeffie, and Joey, whom she tries to date simultaneously.


Quinn the Brain



As Daria muses, "Only Quinn could turn having brains into a fad." After Mr. O'Neill reads Quinn's "Academic Imprisonment" aloud in class and publishes it in the school paper, Quinn adopts a pseudo-intellectual persona whose main features are a black turtleneck and a beret. She also writes stellar poems like, "The greasy fry/it does not lie/the truth is written/on your thigh." Brilliant.


Monster



To fulfill their English class assignment of creating a short film, Daria and Jane settle on the perfect subject: Quinn. They set out to capture her vapidness and superficiality and capture some pretty solid material. Quinn tries to stage the whole thing to make herself look better, but when she asks Daria, "Don't you want to shoot me?" The only appropriate response is, "Yes. I want to shoot you." A guilt trip from mom Helen turns the whole project from an expose into a soft focus ode. Quinn emerges from the whole ordeal more popular than before, but we do get to see a softer side of Daria.


Ill



Daria's Trent-induced anxiety at a Mystik Spiral gig leads to a mysterious rash that lands in her the hospital. Between her mystery illness, an attractive young doctor, and Brittany's desperate attempts to cover up the fact that she too was at that gig incognito as an alternative chick, this episode is pure gold.


Arts n' Crass



Trust Daria and Jane to turn a benign district-wide arts contest into a social commentary on the skewed values of teen society. To fit the contest theme of "Student Life at the Dawn of the New Millennium," Jane draws a beautiful girl gazing into the mirror. Daria adds the wittily dark poem, "She knows she's a winner. She couldn't be thinner. Now she goes to the bathroom and vomits up dinner." Not exactly Pulitzer-worthy, but it does make a statement. The girls fight the school's censorship of their work and embark on an undercover mission to save their poster. Awesomeness ensues.


Daria!



What if the town blew away? It's a legitimate question. As Jane says, "Being a post-apocalyptic town will be cool. Other towns will be scared of us." Sounds like a pretty good deal.

This musical episode is chock full of earworms, so watch with caution. You'll be singing along all day, particularly with gems like "God God Dammit" and "They Must be Worried." You've been warned.


Speedtrapped


What can I say? I'm a sucker for the sappy stuff. I have a soft spots for episodes where Daria and Quinn work as a team. Daria finally gets her driver's license, but she doesn't have much of a chance to enjoy it; Jane and the guys from Mystik Spiral land in jail on traffic charges and need Daria to come bail them out. Quinn's not one to miss out on an adventure, sweeping Daria into her schemes. "Face it, Daria," she says. "You're already accessorizing." Daria asks, dumbfounded, "Do you mean I'm an accessory?" How can you not love the banter between these two? It's just so on.

The Lost Girls



This episode is just pure brilliant commentary on the skewed and underhanded tactics adults use to market alleged youth culture at young girls. Mr. O'Neill enters Daria's essay in a contest for teen magazine Val. Daria lands the prize in the "Win a Day with Val" contest, meaning a self-obsessed name-dropping celebrity hanger-on dressed ten years too young for her true age shadows Daria around at school for the day. In the ever-wise words of Val, things get "jiggy" and "edgy" pretty quickly. Whatever that means.


Write Where it Hurts



Like I said, I go for the sappy stuff. This episode is sharp and funny and places our favorite characters in unfamiliar literary situations as pawns in Daria's story writing attempts, but it also ultimately heartwarming. After many failed tries at writing something good, Daria settles for writing something honest, giving us a peek into the Morgendorfer's future. Daria's parents are astoundingly relaxed, Daria's a famous journalist with an intellectual husband, and Qunn is hilariously a homemaker and mother to several small children. It's touching and sweet, without too much schmaltz.


Boxing Daria



Possibly the darkest episode of the series, "Boxing Daria" gets to the heart of some of Daria's more serious emotional issues. It's the last regular episode of the series before the final TV movie Is it College Yet? In "Boxing Daria," Daria is forced to come to terms with her different-ness and social isolation, recalling a fight her parents had when she was young that culminated in her hiding in a giant refrigerator box to avoid dealing with the situation. The reappearance of a large box in her house coupled with her anxiety about her impending graduation unleashes a Pandora's Box of emotions, culminating in one of the most honest and heartbreaking series conclusions.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Fate of Disney Villains


It may seem counter-intuitive for an animation studio touting alleged moral messages and lessons learned, but Disney's animated films are pretty heavy on semi-violent karmic death. The lesson is far from nuanced; if you're a bad guy, you will undoubtedly fall to your painful but ultimately deserved death in a waterfall or from a jagged cliff. It's just the way it is. It may be a tough lesson for children--act out and you'll inevitably take a timely plunge off of a precariously unstable branch or railingless skyscraper--but it's an important one nonetheless. After all, without a terrifying threat of impending doom, what's to keep kids from acting out and going the ominous villain route? It's an airtight defense.

For the sake of simplicity and non-visible-from-a-distance blood splatters, a fall is by far the simplest means of eliminating a bad guy in the last ten minutes of a Disney animated film. The pain and suffering is implied without being explicit, though usually not administered in a particularly sadistic manner. In short, the punishment fits the crime while keeping in mind that a point-blank bullet to the face could probably be traumatizing to small children. This rule, of course, does not apply to the good guys, in which gun-induced trauma is not only acceptable but actually encouraged and played for tears. See Mom, Bambi's for more information and, probably, some uncontrollable sobbing.

In the cases of a semi-historical plot, it can be tougher to administer that climactic fall. While Disney movies are often pretty heavy on creative license in their adaptation of an existing story, there are existing premises in which a villain's fall to the death doesn't quite fit. Writers and animators may be forced to deliver a less crushing blow, such as Pocahontas' Ratcliffe's forced return to England to face high treason charges. It may not have the satisfying resonance of a villain's defeated wail growing progressively quieter as he crashes into the middle distance, but for some stories we may just have to settle.


Ursula



Crime against mermanity: Takes advantage of innocent young mermaid in revealing shell bra; barters voice for human legs.

To be fair:
She does offer a loophole to Ariel in the form of True Love's Kiss. What kind of softy villain offers an escape clause? Maybe she's not so bad after all.

Then again:
If Ariel fails, she'll be Ursula's slave forever. Plus she has to hang out with those freaky eels. Yikes.

Means of death:
Animated heartthrob and all around good-haired hero Eric runs over her with a ship.

Verdict:
It's a little more malicious than the standard "Oh, oops, she fell off a cliff" out, but it's satisfying nonetheless.


Jafar



Crimes against humanity: General deception, hypnotizes sultan, attempts to enslave whole of Arabian royalty.

Also: Owns irritating parrot. This may be the worst offense.

Means of death: Tricked by own greed and overconfidence into eternal imprisonment in the genie's lamp.

Verdict: Not quite a death, but a life sentence comes in as a near second in the Disney animated tropes for villain elimination.


Scar



Crimes against African wildlife population: Lies, betrayal, ruthless pursuit of throne, general disregard for Circle of Life.

Means of death: Falls on jagged cliffs. Okay, fine, that's not his death, it's a fakeout. Technically, falls on jagged cliffs and survives.

Add insult to injury: ...only to be eaten by his former allies the hyenas.

Verdict:
Totally brutal, and just a tiny bit sadistic. They couldn't have just killed him with the fall? No, no, he needed to doubly learn his lesson...and then be eaten alive by wild beasts. It's warranted.


Percival McLeach



Crimes against endangered species of the Australian Outback: Poaches rare eagles, cruelty and entrapment of animals, terrorizing of adorable mice.

Means of death: Narrowly escapes death by crocodiles; celebrates by falling into waterfall.

Verdict: Classic Disney villain demise. Clean, quick, and a little mean.


Gaston



Crimes against French provincial townspeople and/or potentially dangerous but ultimately kindhearted monsters: Incredible hubris, undue beast hunting, smelly socks.

Means of death:
After the Beast makes a legitimate attempt to spare Gaston's undeserving life, Gaston goes and stabs the big guy in the back. Literally.

And then:
...trips and epically falls into the night.

Verdict:
Totally justified. That's what you get for bringing a lynch mob to the castle of a mysteriously furry recluse. He really should have known better.


Shan Yu



Crimes against East Asian warrior culture:
Leads the bloodthirsty Huns into China.

Means of death: Gets totally distracted by firework strapped to comic relief dragon; explodes.

Verdict:
Not quite the fall we may have been hoping for, though we can assume he did eventually plummet to his redundant death after exploding. Whatever, we'll take consolation wherever we can find it.


Ratcliffe



Crimes against persecuted Native American population:
Greed for gold, exploits land, unreasonably distrust of natives.

Means of death:
None. Trapped by settlers and shipped off to England to be tried for high treason.

Verdict: Lame. John Smith gets shot and Ratcliffe gets off with some treason charges? Granted, Smith lives and Ratcliffe's charges are for high treason, but really. How's a five-year old supposed to understand the karmic value in that outcome? "Oh, it's cool. He was sent back to his native country to be tried in a court of law for crimes against the state." They would have done better falling off a cliff and/or into a waterfall. It's a far more resonant visual.

Frollo



Crimes against Notre Dame hunchback community:
Acts totally unjustly while serving as Minister of Justice. Go figure.

Means of death: Loses hold on stone gargoyle, plummets to death from atop Notre Dame cathedral.

Verdict:
As far as Disney villains go, Frollo is one of the downright slimiest. Here's a case where a more specifically violent visual may have been welcome.


Hades



Crimes against mythological Greek figures:
Though justifiably bitter about role as lord of the deceased in the underworld, Hades' quest to overthrow brother Zeus by knocking off Hercules is still pretty villainous.

Means of death:
Punched out by super strong Hercules, plummets into River Styx.

Also: Eaten by dead people's spirits.

Verdict: Awesome comeuppance with a real lesson: if you're gonna mess with Hercules, you're going to be smothered by the lingering souls of the dead. That's just the way it goes.


Clayton



Crimes against tree-swinging contingency of jungle-dwelling humanity: Gorilla hunter and guilty of all-around bad guy-ness.

Means of death: Falls out of tree, strangled by vine, hanged.

Verdict:
A little graphic, but overall pretty fair. You don't go after gorillas n' friends. They'll get you.

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