HBO Velma: Satire and self-awareness done WRONG

We all have fond memories of Scooby Doo and the Gang solving mysteries together, no matter which era or rebirth they went through when you discovered them, its likely you had a few laughs thanks to shaggy and Scooby. In the past year, HBO decided to release a new Scoob-Gang themed show, ‘Velma‘.

This new version of Velma, Shaggy, Fred, and Daphne were very different compared to their previous iterations. HBO Velma changes the races of 3 out of the four main characters and removes Scooby completely. However, these alone didn’t mean a fiery end for the show, what did destroy it? It’s poor comedy and attempt at satire.

When trying to create a good version of satire, you need to have a proper understand of the subject of which you are creating said satire. HBO Velma makes no attempt to do this. HBO Velma doesn’t create any of the Scooby Doo characters as actual characters but more as reflections of modern society and in the case of Velma herself; Mindy. HBO Velma has no respect for the franchise and the characterization of any of its subjects. If you removed the name of Velma and the appearance of any of the other characters, you’d never know that it had anything to do with the Mystery Gang.

The worst part is that it could have been a good show, not great but passable at the very least. HBO Velma tries a meta-satire approach to its comedy, but ends up falling flat due to its lack of respect for itself. Had it attempted to be more focused on taking its usual unmasking of villains and flipping it into a more interesting approach, or more focused on becoming a satire of itself rather than society as a whole it might have been more well received. It does try to attempt this, but its so poorly done you barely notice that it even did so.

To summarize; do not bother watching HBO´s Velma. It fails not only as a comedy in the simplest ways but especially as a satire. It doesn´t treat any of the Mystery Gang with respect, tries too hard to be meta at the expense of the plot, and generally is unfunny. Save yourself and go watch Mystery Incorporated or any of the older Scooby Doo shows.

Tokarczuk’s Unique Use of Literary Techniques

Two Literary techniques that Tokarczuk uses throughout the book is the capitalization and imagery. For my group’s presentation, I didn’t get to dive as deep into how powerful these two techniques are to the whole book but specifically in chapters one through six. Starting with capitalization, Tokarczuk uses the capitalization of unproper nouns to emphasize the ideas Janina brings to the books as well as to add value to the things Janina cares about most. For example, Tokarczuk capitalizes on almost every single animal when referred to in the book. Such as the deer head found in Big Foot’s home or Oddball’s dog. Tokarczuk capitalizes the names of animals to show the reader how Janina believes animals to be of equal importance to humans and to form a deeper connection between the readers and the animals in the story.  I think we usually feel that we should care more about humans than animals, but the use of capitalization sort of breaks that idea and makes us care more about them, as well as understand how much Janina values animals. In other instances when things are capitalized, the author wants us to really understand the importance of what’s happening and to notice when something is being emphasized. For example, at the beginning of chapter 5, Janina is yelling at these hunters to stop shooting the birds. She’s obviously extremely angry but with the use of capitalization, we can see her anger more clearly. At the bottom of page 63, it says “At that point I felt a surge or Anger, genuine, not to say Divine Anger.” Anger being capitalized really emphasized how strong that anger is. In this sentence, Janina is saying that she didn’t feel “Divine Anger, but regular anger. The capitalization of Divine, again emphasizes how strong of a feeling Divine Anger would be and helps readers see the rage through her eyes.

Another style of writing seen in the book is imagery. In the scene where Janina and Oddball are in Big Foot’s house after discovering his body, it says “There we stood in the cold damp room, in the frosty vacuum prevailing at this dull, gray time of night…” Now obviously no author would describe the room by simply stating that it is cold. But the amount of details in Tokarczuk’s writing truly makes you feel like you’re there. You can feel the cold, you can feel the heaviness of what’s happening. We like to associate bad things and death with coldness and grayness so I feel like her imagery there really helped emphasize the gravity of the situation. The second example of imagery is from a passage we’ve kind of already talked about and it’s on page 65. Janina is describing her ailments and she says “ There’s no hiding from this pain, there are no pills or injections for it. It must hurt, just as a river must flow and fire must burn. It spitefully reminds me that I consist of physical particles, which are slipping away by the second. Perhaps one could get used to it? Learn to live with it, just as people live in the cities of Auschwitz. or Hiroshima, without ever thinking about what happened there in the past. They simply live their lives.” Comparing her pain to the two cities was an interesting use of imagery. She’s saying that the atrocities that have occurred there don’t stop people from continuing to live their lives in peace and that even though she’s in pain, she should also be able to live her life in peace. When she says “it must hurt, just as a river must flow and a fire must burn”, it goes along with the point that things keep moving and going and you have to keep moving with the times and through your pain. The imagery was really specific and detailed to where you know exactly what her mindset is and you understand because the readers know these cities and their history, just like we know a river flows and fire burns. So her imagery really helped convey Janina’s pain. Tokarczuk’s use of capitalization and imagery truly makes for a detailed and unique read.

Visual Comedy in the 20’s

Dramatic comedy has evolved over the years to adjust to society’s type of humor. What we refer to as comedy today has a lot to do with how characters in film or tv combine elements of drama and comedy and it usually depicts incidents in which a character ultimately triumphs over adversity. This clip from the silent film, “The Lions Cage” shows english comic actor, Charlie Chaplin in a circus. Although the film is silent the feelings of the characters are conveyed through different aspects such as hand gestures, facial expressions, musical effects and subtitles. I can tell by watching this clip that the purpose is to amuse those watching by putting a character in a difficult situation and observing his actions as he tries to get out of the situation. To me the facial expressions and body language of Chaplin is what really bring out the comedic aspect to the situation. Not only can people find humor in the setting of the movie but also in how the character moves around and acts within the setting. I can also infer that people find humor in the suffering of others. Not in an evil kind of way but in joking manner where the character is obviously acting out the “normal”.

Although this movie was made for audiences in the 1920’s this kind of humor continues to entertain people in the present day. This is because it is human nature to find humor in such situations where another person overcomes a challenge. Although comedy is a lot about making people laugh, it is also about telling a story using different aspects and factors for entertainment. I believe comedy is a meaningful form of art because is inclusive. I think it would be wrong to see comedy as not meaningful or standardized because it incorporates many different forms of expression and it varies throughout time and culture to reflect the feelings and humor of many audiences.

The Weather Channel

Janina doesn’t like to overindulge, but makes it clear that she is satisfied anyways. Unlike most people who consume multiple pieces of media, she sticks to one of each. She only drinks black tea, uses one program on the computer Dizzy bought her, and loses the remote which eliminates the possibility of switching off the weather channel.

When it’s on, Janina finds comfort in the continuous images. She talks about how in the winter, the sun escapes after a few hours and we’re left with nothing but darkness. The outdoors offer no comfort, so she has looked inside to find something positive. I’d imagine that it would get boring to look at the same green screen portrayal of her area, but perhaps there is something new to analyze if you are willing to look. She references the abstract lines that separate countries, and maps that highlight pressure for high altitudes. I found it powerful that she recognizes even though the Czech Republic and Germany aren’t outside her hamlet, the same elements are there too. The air they breathe is the same that makes its way to her, across oceans and mountains. It shows how people are all connected through nature, even when it doesn’t seem significant.

The satellite images of the Earth remind her that our planet is tangible, and a functioning sphere that keeps track of everything we do. Janina brings up the point that no one is recording the history of humanity on a camera, but the Earth holds us accountable because it doesn’t allow people to hide. Literally, we are exposed on its outermost part and have to live with our bodies showcased toward the stars and space.

Within the TV program, there are three types of people who tune in. The broadcast for skiers is meant to tell them about the slopes and snow conditions, but after spring comes their segment is replaced for the allergy sufferers. Pollen predictions are shown in bright red, warning them about danger zones. And drivers dismiss both of these since they’re only focused on how the weather affects the highway. Janina believes this classification of people is universal and compels us to apply it to ourselves. Responding to situations casually and being eager to indulge means they are a skier. They are pleasure seekers. There are also drivers, whose practicality forces them to take matters into their own hands, since they believe that’s the best way. And allergy sufferers, who have been conditioned to be on the offense, are wary of outside forces. Janina’s theory seems to be reminiscent of the categorization that horoscopes employ. But it is interesting to analyze how we behave, especially when the choices are random and somehow very poignant.