Archive for November 2008

The Backyardigans: Who Goes There?

I know I’m an American parent now, because despite my best intentions, my daughter watches television. I didn’t want it, but putting it on a show called The Backyardigans will get her to eat. I try to limit it. While children are watching television, their brains aren’t really developing. Doesn’t matter how educational it is supposed to be. It’s just not good for toddlers.

However, the show is actually pretty cool. I don’t know much about shows like Teletubbies or Dora the Explorer, except to know that I hate them from what little I’ve seen.

But this show has some pretty awesome music sometimes. The hook is that five children (anthropomorphic animals/aliens) share a big backyard and have adventures in their imagination. They all play well together, taking turns being in charge (in one episode one will be a Butler, obeying the others, in another the Boss at a racetrack, giving out orders), and usually playing with cooperation instead of competition, but when they do compete it’s always good natured.

In the most recent episode I watched, “Who Goes There?” Tyrone is a security guard at a museum. In an homage/ripoff of the film Night at the Musuem, Pablo, Uniqua, and Austin are works of art that come to life.

The musical style of this episode is Flamenco, and it is wonderful. I’ve been listening to it when my daughter isn’t even in the room.

Here’s a youtube clip I found, and the lyrics transcription.

Uniqua:   Tired of hanging around
Pablo & Autin:   Tired of hanging around
Uniqua:   I’m still all day, now I gotta play
  I’m Tired of hanging around
Pablo:   I’m Tired of standing around
Uniqua and Austin:   Tired of standing around
Pablo:   The public’s gone and the party is on
  I’m Tired of standing around
  I’ve been posing in this pose
  Since sixteen forty-two
  It’s great being part of famous art
  But it gets boring too
Uniqua:   I’ve hung in the gallery
  A hundred years or more
  My beauty is immortal
  But my neck is kinda sore
Austin:   I’ve spent two millenia
  Reclining on that pot
  Yes that means 2000 years
  And yes that is a lot
  I’m tired of laying around
  Tired of laying around
  Life on a vase has a slow pace
  I’m tired of hanging around
Uniqua:   We stand all day in artful poses
Austin:   Never stretch or scratch our noses
Pablo:   But when it’s night this place closes
All:   Say bye-bye to the daytime crowd
  Time to get busy, time to get loud
  Tired of laying around
  Tired of standing around
Uniqua:   Come on boys, let’s make some noise
All:   Tired of hanging around
  Tired of laying around
  Tired of standing around
Austin:   We’re gonna make this whole place shake
All:   Tired of hanging around


Severus Snape is still evil!

I reread bits of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the other day. I can’t believe Harry is dumb enough to name his son Albus Severus. Leaving aside that Dumbledore wasn’t actually super great himself, how can he name his son after Snape? Because he was brave? So what!

Snape is a bigot. He is prejudiced. If you like Snape, then you like a deeply, truly prejudiced person. He treated Harry like trash the minute he met him, because he looks like James, who Snape hated.

James was apparently a bully and a jerk. That’s fine, but that doesn’t somehow make Snape sympathetic, just because his rival is a scumbag. Harry isn’t a bully, so he isn’t like James. But Snape hates him from Day One.

He also treats Hermione, Ron, and Neville like trash and favors the kids from his own house. And no, that’s not all just an act as part of the Bigger Plan. Dumbledore even admits that these are Snape’s own personal hangups.

So Snape was originally fine for James to die, okay, I can accept that, even though if he really loved Lily he probably shouldn’t be okay with her husband’s death, since that would obviously hurt her, and if you love someone in a way that isn’t just selfish and possessive, you generally don’t want to hurt the one you love.

But he also didn’t care if Harry died, as long as Lily was spared. That’s pretty calloused. And then when Lily dies anyway, he does agree to help protect Harry. Not because it’s right, but because he wants (a) to do something for Lily and (b) revenge on Voldemort.

And finally, when Dumbledore tells him Harry must die, Snape is devastated, as he thought all his sacrifice was to protect him. Dumbledore asks if he has begun to care for Harry. “For him?” Snape exclaims. He doesn’t care about Harry. He never cared about Harry. Harry can suffer, Harry can hurt, that doesn’t bother him. All he cares about is Lily, but not her son, only because he’s a tool that through protecting him, he can feel good about doing something for Lily.

So then when he learns that he can’t protect Harry any more, that he is for the slaughter, he continues his secret work for reason (b), revenge on Voldemort.

So yeah, Snape is brave. You have to be to play both sides for so long like he did, to risk his life so many times… but is bravery enough? And I believe he did come around from his Death Eater ways, he eschewed the use of Mudblood in private (or was that merely because he had called Lily that and the word reminded him of his worst memory?) and he did try to save George from a Death Eater. When Dumbledore asked him how many people he’d seen die, he said “Lately, only those I could not save.” So sure, he retreated from his evil.

But does dialing back the evil make him good? The thing to remember is, if he’d lived, then once Harry knew the truth about his life, they’d still have been enemies. Snape hated Harry, because he reminded him of James, and that wouldn’t have changed. In his death, Harry found forgiveness to bestow, but if Snape was alive and well and sneering and insulting as ever, would he have?

Snape did what he did for his own purposes. His sick fascination with Lily drove his life. He was a loyal servant of Voldemort, if James and Harry had died but Lily had lived, wouldn’t he still be? If he could have turned Lily into a Death Eater, wouldn’t he have?

It’s like the broken message in Return of the Jedi: Darth Vader murdered so many people (including children), but when he saves the life of his own son, suddenly he’s redeemed? As if, unless you are 100% full-stop evil, you must be Good?

Yes, Snape was not as evil as he could have been, or as he had used to be, or as everyone thought. That doesn’t make him good. He was prejudiced, until the end of his days, and content in his prejudice. He was an awful teacher, abusive, and petty. He probably helped corrupt Draco Malfoy and gang; after all, he was their influence for so many years… was he honest about fostering their ambition for power, or was their corruption part of maintaining his status as a spy? Either way, it’s pretty horrible.

He should have moved on and tried to find someone else to love. His obsession with Lily was unhealthy.

And worst of all, for as obsessed with her as he was, why did he join the Death Eaters in the first place? That’s what drove her from him, not James. He did it. He chose power over her. But did he ever own up to that? He preferred to blame James for that, I guess.

How about the sorting? Harry chose Gryffindor, although the hat might have put him in Slytherin. Why didn’t Snape? He chose Slytherin over being with Lily… okay, that’s maybe not his fault. The whole Sorting concept is deeply flawed.

And on reflection, the wizarding world if full of horrible prejudices and irrationality, so perhaps Snape is not to be judged quite as harshly…

But he’s still not a good person. Brave, yes. Valuable and instrumental in Voldemort’s downfall? Yes. Protected Harry? Physically, anyway, though he had no problem with psychological tortures extraordinaire. But it takes more than that to make a good man. Snape remains a villain in my eyes. Dumbledore states that the world is made up of more than Good Guys and Death Eaters.

It’s true. Snape did good things, and bad things, but remains a bad person.