Wednesday, 14 March 2007

More Ameritrash than Ameritrash

So it seems after months of "Yeah yeah, lets do an Ameritrash (AT) centered bloggsite!" we finally got off our lazy asses and did it. And it only took a baning to make it finally happen. Go us proactive bastards.

Most (all?) of the other contributers have made great first contributions by now. Posts on what is AT, what's important about AT, why we love AT. I thought I'd buck the trend by making my first contribution to this site a useless nonsensical article that doesn't add anything of worth. Bet you didn't see that coming!

Anyway before I begin, let me just say this is my first 'blog', and after wrestling 3 hours with logging in I must say blogs suck as much as I imagined they would. Anyway...

The questions "What is Ameritrash?" often comes up, and it has been heavily debated since the term was coined. But it occurred to me that it is only ever discussed in the context of games. What is it in terms of a theme? But what is it in terms of a concept?

Just what is the most Ameritrash thing in the known world?

Long and hard did I ponder this question. For as a fan, was it not my duty to find out? Our existence could depend on it. Words and dictionary definitions can only go so far. What we needed was an example, the example. The thing we could hold up and say "Hear us! It is here! This is it! This is Ameritrash in it's purest form!"

I searched high. I searched low. I searched under Bradford's bed and in Barnes' underpants. Then I found it, right under my nose. Or more precisely, across the screen staring at me from my avatar.

Ladies and Gentlemen. Boys and Girls. I present to you the most Ameritrash thing there ever was, ever is, and ever will be in the known universe...



That's right people. If it fit's in the Masters of the Universe setting, it's Ameritrash.

Lets run down a quick checklist shall we.

1) Sword and Sorcery / Fantasy

One of the staple genres of Ameritrash is fantasy. Elves, barbarians, wizards, orcs, dragons and every other Tolkien and Howard cleche is crammed into every box. If Princes of Florence was an ameritrash game you can guarantee you'd be building a wizards courtyard and the elegant mechanics would include being able to hurl fireballs at the other principalities (take that oh claims of multiplayer solitaire!) Master's, being the very original tale of a mussel bound mass taking on another mussel bound mass with a skull for a head, is chock full of these elements. Hell, the main heroes' weapon is a freakin magic sword. You just don't get more ameritrash than that!

2) Sci-fi / Pulp

Despite the fact that the people of Eternia walked around in furry undies and lived in castles, the setting was actually science fiction. Monsters walked around with a battle axe strapped to their back and a laser gun strapped to their hip. Computers and microwave ovens with time travel abilities were common place. Sure there was no consistency whatsoever in the world they created, but you don't tend to notice things like internal world logic when you're 5 years old.
Of course, when ameritrash talks of science fiction, it's not talking about real science fiction like Philip K Dick and his ilk, but rather stuff like Star Wars and Flash Gordon. In other words science fiction that decides to fuck the science and just go for the fiction. Space aliens, killer robots, super heroes and everything else that fits under 'pulp' makes up 50% of the Ameritrash playlist, and all of them could be easily found in this toon every weekday at 6.00 am.

3) War / Fighting

The cartoon basically involved He-man kicking the shit out of Skeletor for 25 minutes, then he'd turn towards the audience and insist that really, fighting was bad and it was all just pretend and in good fun. If that doesn't sum Barnes and I up, I don't know what does.
Almost all of the remaining ameritrash themes fit here. Nukes and tanks. Knights and ninjas. Masters of the Universe had them all.

4) Horror

And at last we come to the final theme ameritrash uses in abundance - horror. Well ok, it was a kids toon so it wasn't exactly scary per say. Still, good old skeletor made up the zombie quotient, and his lackeys wouldn't have had much trouble getting jobs at the hammer horror studios after the toon was axed. It was also apparent that there were more than a few HP Lovecraft fans at the studio, since almost every episode had He-man fight some tentacled horror that just screamed "rip-off!"

5) Hot chicks

Nothing screams ameritrash like exploiting hot women. It's part of every healthy overactive nerds diet. Now, I'm not the kind of guy who gets turned on by a drawing, I'll leave that to you freaks who watch that Anime stuff, but Masters had the skimpiest and fittest looking chicks in all of cartoondom. I mean check these out:
If these chicks were in Runebound the feminists on the geek would go into meltdown.
And before you clowns start with the whole "Prince Adam wore purple so he must be gay!" thing, just ask yourself this - who was Optimus Prime banging? Yeah, you think about that one!

6) Insults

Hurling insults at 'friends' is a mandatory activity anytime you sit down with an 8 hour ameritrash warfeast. If you're not describing someones mother after they invade your boarder, then you just aren't playing proper Ameritrash. As a child there was no better teacher of the art of the vipers tung than good old Skeletor and his merry men. Biting remarks such as "furface", "bonehead", "muscle bound oaf", "fishbreath" and the ever classic "fool" taught young geeks in the making the necessary skills to make their Eurosnoot counterparts cry over 20 years later. It is rumored that Skeletor himself has been kicked off no less than 78 forums, a feat which the provost is struggling to come near.

7) Toy factor

Ken is going to crack a fit over this one, but yeah, most ATers love the toyfactor. So I feel like I get my moneys worth more when I crack open a box full of plastic soldiers than I do when I get a few meeples and a rulebook written in German - sue me. Masters of the Universe was a toyline based on gimmick action features. I'll let you make the connection.

8) Cheese Logic

Ameritrash quite often uses what I call "cheese logic", which is crap that doesn't make any sense. Space Ninjas. Robot Dinosaurs. Flying Pirates. It doesn't matter if it doesn't make any sense, as long as it sounds cool. Sure, Cthulhu is an ancient unstoppable enemy beyond time space and death, but hey, my guy is armed with a shotgun! My heroes in the descent are going to delve into a dungeon to save the princess, because apparently all the kings army are on vacation.
To say Masters didn't make any real sense is an understatement. Yeah, the setting has laser guns but beastman comes armed with a whip. No one can work out that Adam is He-man, because He-man has a tan (take that, Clark Kent's glasses!) One hero was a red firefighter with a robot elephants head. Another bad guy attacked people buy blowing himself up (actually, wouldn't that make him a suicide bomber? Holy shit, I wanna see if any toy company has the stones to release an action figure like that today!) Sure, none of this crap made a lick of sense, but it still sounded cool. More cool than whatever the hell it is I'm meant to be doing in Power Grid at any rate.

9) Morals

At the end of every episode Orko would float on screen and break the 3rd wall, telling us viewers that we should be kind to one another, clean our rooms, don't do drugs, love our neighbors... actually this sounds like Eurogame propaganda. Hmm, lets quickly skip over this point and pretend we didn't see it...

10) America

Finally, you don't have Ameritrash without America (that's where the "Ameri" comes from, you see.) Masters of the Universe was made by Filmation studios, which was the last big company to do full cartoon animation in America.
Yes, I do know a lot of Ameritrash games did not come from America, but I thought it was a nice point to finish up on regardless.

So there you have it, Masters of the Universe is the most Ameritrash thing I can think of. If anyone thinks they can think of something even more ameritrashy, let me know. In the meantime this article ended up a hell of a lot longer than I was anticipating so I'm off to hire an editor. Till next episode friends, goodbye!

17 comments:

Ken Bradford said...

But...but...I *LOVE* the toy factor! I ain't crackin' no fits, I'm with you all the way!


My favorite part of Masters was when Man-at-Arms shaved his mustache because "Teela said it tickled."

Michael Barnes said...

I _loved_ Masters of the Universe when I was growing up...wait, I still do...

Anyway, you left off one thing that ties it back to AT...they laugh at the end of every episode.

BTW, anybody seen Orko?

BradH said...

Number one cartoon. Number one genre of boardgames. Can there possibly be a link?

I got the series 1 box set on DVD for my birthday. I was a very happy boy.

BrayD said...

Filmation was a great studio. I must admit, He-Man was never really a particular favorite of mine. (Suprisingly good movie, though. Skeletor's ride looks like it was bought used and pimped by Xerxes in the new 300 movie.)

Off the top of my head, I also enjoyed (some more than others) the following Filmation 'toons:

Star Trek, Flash Gordon, Tarzan, Fat Albert, Gilligan's Island, Lassie, Batman (think they did this one twice?), and Superman (one of their really early efforts). Did they do the Thundercats? Sabrina and Archies were cool early on but FunHouse in particular became too surreal for my young brain to handle.

Mr Skeletor said...

Not sure who did Thundercats but it certainly wasn't Filmation. She-ra was their last big hit. Then they made Bravestarr (which was a ratings disappointment) and closed doors more or less.

Bohemian said...

You've pretty much summed up the whole ameritrash appeal as far as I'm concerned. Well done!

Boner Teasdale said...

And before you clowns start with the whole "Prince Adam wore purple so he must be gay!" thing, just ask yourself this - who was Optimus Prime banging? Yeah, you think about that one!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are, in fact, suggesting that Optimus Prime was involved in a gay romance with Prince Adam, aren't you?

Mr Skeletor said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are, in fact, suggesting that Optimus Prime was involved in a gay romance with Prince Adam, aren't you?

Hey, this aint the marvel universe! We don't crossover stories here buddy!

Fraser said...

LOL - Frank you've summed it all up, and there is almost no point of this blog anymore and it has only been around for two days :-)

The Cheese Factor - Read any Harry Harrison? I think it was him who talked about the "Cheddite Projector" and I would also heartily recommend The Space Rats of the CCC.

Anonymous said...

That was freaking brilliant. I love all those Masters of the Unvivers 80's analogies. It truly epitomizes what we know and love about Ameritrash!

Great Job.

TheDUDE05

Joe said...

I wish there was a good Thundarr game. Personally, I liked it better than MOTU, but they had alomst all the same elements. I'm just a sucker for post-apocalytic settings.

Ookla, Arial ride!

Jon Oetting said...

I see a lot of AmeriTrash fans focusing on fantasy and scifi as themes, but can't AmeriTrash games have more-or-less historical themes as well? Don't Shogun, Axis & Allies, Kingmaker, Warrior Knights, Junta, etc. fit under the AmeriTrash tent? My question is purely selfish as those are some of my favorite games, and I'm not a big fantasy fan.

Ken Bradford said...

Jon--absolutely, and every game you listed qualifies.

Mr Skeletor said...

[i]I see a lot of AmeriTrash fans focusing on fantasy and scifi as themes, but can't AmeriTrash games have more-or-less historical themes as well? Don't Shogun, Axis & Allies, Kingmaker, Warrior Knights, Junta, etc. fit under the AmeriTrash tent? My question is purely selfish as those are some of my favorite games, and I'm not a big fantasy fan.[/i]

They most certainly do. I tried to cover this under point 3 but it may not have been clear, but MOTU had all that stuff in it as well:
Shogun - Jutsi and Ninjor covered the whole ninja thing.
Axis & Allies - modern / world war warfare are the only themes I'm struggling to marry up to MOTU. Just chuck in a few GI Joe dolls and pretend they were official cannon or something.
Kingmaker - The main dude was a prince, and there was good old Kingrandor and there were kingdoms all over the place, so the medevil period is covered.
Warrior Knights - Extendar was a robot knight. The palace had lots of knights.
Junta - Errr, a guy once smoked a cigar on the show?

KK Su said...

And this is the article that made me stick a Bookmark against this blog. Well done, Frank!

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