No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
Your Childhood is Batman

Firefilm | 11 Jun 2012 12:00
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Chris: Hurry! Run to your collections of Batman: The Animated Series right now! Good, grab the first DVD and stick it into your DVD player! Did it still work? Oh thank God, I was so certain by the reaction people had to last week's debate that I had somehow erased that series forever. Phew, close one there.

See, I get the reaction that people have to the 1987 Ninja Turtles cartoon winning the debate of "best" comic-based cartoon against Batman. Both are well-loved, but only one has the GD Batman in it and too many people find it impossible to look beyond that (though yes, some of you did look to Batman Beyond, which didn't technically come from the comics so it wouldn't have counted anyway).

I'm supposed to go into arguments that Kyle should have made for Batman and against TMNT, but I don't want to, because again, I get it. I said I liked a thing that isn't the same thing you liked and as a result, I must be either a. An idiot, b. An asshole, c. Forgetful, or d. All of the above. There are some hard truths that people just don't seem to fathom because their gut reactions get in the way of obvious thinking, so let me go through the usual motions and explain myself a bit better.

Yes, I am a fan of Batman: The Animated Series. Yes, I do in fact think it is the best made comic-based cartoon both at the time and again on every rewatch. No, it's not my favorite. No, Kyle and I couldn't both pick the same side in a debate. Some viewers get that. Some viewers don't understand how a debate works.

Let's go back to high school now (or jump ahead to high school if you're some of our younger viewers). I took some Speech and Debate classes and over the course of three years or so, I got a chance to engage in a lot of debates about very clearly one-sided arguments. When you walk to the front of the class and your teacher tells you you'll be arguing for why same-sex marriage should be banned and your opponent immediately says that it shouldn't be, the only thing that goes through your head is, "Shit." You are now the bad guy, regardless of how well you come up with arguments that support your case.

We decided to do the best comic-based cartoon and Kyle got Batman. "Shit."

Honestly, I didn't expect to win this debate unless I did exactly what you're supposed to do in debates: Change the parameters to fit the argument you can best use. The quality of the two shows aren't able to compete as Batman is better for so many reasons, so deciding that "best" meant "most competently made" would be a bad choice to argue from. However, define "best" as "biggest cultural impact and propagation of the brand" easily swings the debate into my favor. Is that cheating? No, that's debating correctly. Kyle could have stopped me and said, "Hey, best doesn't mean what you think it does," but he seemed to agree with my redefinition and allowed it to proceed. That's how debate works, and if your opponent doesn't see what you're doing, then that means you're doing it right.

At the end of the episode we mentioned that Kyle, Dan, and myself argued for what seemed to be another episode's worth of debates and I wasn't kidding there. We took the most time of any previous episode to stop and look this over as Dan really couldn't pick a definite or obvious winner. He knew what everyone wanted him to say (Batman), but he couldn't just brush it aside as the assumption is that Batman always wins and that's not fair to just say that any debate with Batman must always end with him being the victor. We talked for another 15 minutes before Dan put his foot down and stated that TMNT won the debate based on how I had shifted it. This wasn't just something we decided upon because "Whatever, let's mess with people." I'm sure Dan has the full explanation in his part ("Chris is just a sexy beast sometimes").

But I'm not done debating just yet. A few people in the comments brought up how Batman has won more awards, which is utterly meaningless for "best" status. You know that Chris Brown just won some Grammys, right? Does that make him better than Dragonforce? Also, The King's Speech won the Oscar for Best Picture. Is that movie better than The Avengers? Awards don't mean a thing. I think Batman: The Animated Series is a great show, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is still my favorite. Am I wrong for thinking that?

Shh, don't answer that.


Kyle: While many folks made the argument that Chris made a huge error in argument (in regards to a cartoon revitalizing a franchise being equal to being the better show), I'd say the argument held water.

However, Chris did refrain from taking some big shots at me. To start, the turtles were capable of self-deprecations and self-referencing. For instance, the Neutrinos and the featured episodes with the Battle Toads and Usagi Yojimbo.

Here we have a show that knows damn well how silly it is, and is willing to have fun with its batshit premise by giving us a barrage of mutant animals or stereotype teenagers.

Also, while Batman: TAS had a great thing going with time setting (clothing style and vehicles suggested the forties or fifties, technology suggested 2005 or so, and the show was made in late '80s and early '90s), TMNT had a very concrete spot in time (time travel notwithstanding).

So not only is it easier to compartmentalize the timeframe, it sets the series up for a bigger nostalgia factor.

And for those of you who argue that TMNT holds no real appeal for adults, never underestimate that nostalgia. We haven't had a big TMNT event since that third flick, so the show holds more magic because of it. Meanwhile, Batman has had a big, successful decade in movies and comics. So the good juju for the animated series loses power when submerged in all that win. Sorry, but that's the price of good comic movies.

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