|Wraith of the Laffoheads (or Do We Really Need Blocks?) | Jeff Harris, May 2004|
Toonami is redundant.
So is Miguzi.
And Adult Swim.
No, I'm not joining the legions of laffoheads asking for the demise of Williams Street Productions. They have basically changed Cartoon Network into something worth watching for ten years now, ever since their first production, Space Ghost Coast to Coast was unleashed. Good job, ladies and gents, you've done the fans proud. You all really need to move up in the corporate chain for your efforts.
But your blocks are not only redundant, but unnecessary.
Hear me out, let me explain.
Over the past ten years, the rebels at Williams Street has used their revolutionary methods to change the world . . . one young mind at a time. As time evolved, so did the viewership. There is a generation that was in grade school when Toonami began who are now near college age about now. Because shows changed, the attitudes also changed. There has been a whole generation that has seen Toonami change from a showcase of the best action cartoons to a showcase of the latest anime they can snag to a toyetic haven for future properties. Toonami today is kind of a compilation of those traits and get scorned by cynical viewers because of it.
Then again, Adult Swim and Miguzi are very similar to Toonami in those traits as well. All three blocks are purely made for two purposes that are tied in together . . . merchandising and advertising. Haven't you ever noticed that on almost every product sold based on something seen on one of the three blocks usually has either the CN logo or the "as seen on Toonami/Adult Swim/Miguzi" sticker on them (I think the Totally Spies-related stuff will have the "as seen on Miguzi" stamp on them; 4Kids isn't exactly all that psyched about their products on CN to have that kind of confidence to display that yet)?
Truth be told, the main reason why these blocks exist is to present information to advertisers. Like everything in life, advertising rules the television industry. Whatever gets the highest "ratings" according to the demos that networks put in their press releases, the blocks where those shows are found will receive more ads. It's a vicious cycle, really since ad revenue also pays for show acquisitions.
But what is the true worth of blocks? Aside from flashy presentations for shows, why do blocks like Toonami, Miguzi, and Adult Swim exist? The ad excuse looks good on paper, but that's not enough. Is Cartoon Network embarassed by these action and adult comedy acquisitions so much that they have to segregate from the rest of the network? Maybe the blocks are created to showcase these acquitions. Brilliant, but in a way, separating. In fact a number of action shows have found their way on the lineup in early morning and late-night lineups over the past couple of years. Unfortunately, they don't get high ratings due to the fact that they aren't promoted as heavily as the three action blocks on Cartoon Network.
Perhaps one day, Cartoon Network will become a network without borders. Maybe one day, we'll see animation treated not as a kid-vid entertainment format, but a true storytelling medium without limitations. I think we all would agree on that.