As old(er) Millennials, Cory and I are, like so many, children of Nickelodeon. Not today’s Nickelodeon, full of flashy shows and polished promos. No, I mean the Nickelodeon of yore – gritty, weird, and completely unafraid.
Some time soon, I may do a more in-depth look at Legends of the Hidden Temple. But for now…. there’s this:
Fan theories run rampant online, this we know. But for every thousand random rants or way-too-forced connections, a few gems pop up that blow your mind, open your eyes or at the very least make you think for a minute.
So much happens during the creative process, decisions must be made, and often really great ideas are cut, leading to loose ends that eagle-eyed viewers might be able to detect and conclude. Other times, bread crumbs are left intentionally by a writer or filmmaker — not even for the viewer to find, necessarily, but more as a storytelling frame or tonal touchstone, so they don’t lose their way throughout production.
So with a solid understanding of the process, when fan theories come out, I like to take the time really examine them and take everything into consideration. Buzzfeed recently put out the Top Fan Theories of 2015. Here are five of them, along with my humble (but thoroughly educated!) opinion.
1.The Peddler is the Genie in Aladdin.
How do I say this? Ummm…. Duh? Sorry, it’s just I thought we already knew this. Robin Williams voiced the Peddler. He also has Robin’s/The Genie’s quick-paced delivery. Who else would know the story AND have the lamp? To see this even labeled as a “fan theory” feels a little false. Not to mention since it’s been confirmed, that it is no longer classified as a theory so much as an actual element of the story.
2. The Joker is the Real Hero.
I kinda love this theory, as posted on Reddit. While we’re emotionally and psychologically set up to root for Batman, when you look at the chain of events, and the cause and effect… it’s clear that the Joker was actually the one to clean up Gotham, albeit in his own twisted way. Yes, Batman is all about ethics, but the Joker pushed Batman so far past his own beliefs, he turned Batman against himself. The Joker was just the ultimate infiltrator. This is really more of a philosophical question – what do you consider to be the greater good? That’s deep. And I appreciate it.
3. Jar Jar Binks was a Sith Genius.
Cory brought this one to my attention and though initially, I thought it was ridiculous. But damn are these arguments convincing. Is it really possible that Jar Jar was essentially too smart for his own good? Would Lucas really wimp out and choose to ditch Jar Jar’s original path? That’s the part of this theory that bothers me most, I suppose. Wouldn’t it have been the ultimate answer to the backlash if Jar Jar turned out to be the badass Sith Lord he was supposed to be? Once the negative feedback started to rumble, Lucas should’ve been out there fighting for him. As much as I would love if this were true, more realistically, I’m still on the fence.
4. Lime Green Represents Evil in the Disney Universe.
I’m not sure why this is really a theory, so much as a detail astutely brought to our attention. But Disney isn’t the only one to do this. In live action films, this can go back as far as 1939 with The Wizard of Oz. Determined to make the most of new Technicolor technology, the production team made The Wicked Witch and the Wizard (at his scariest) both sickeningly green, indicating evil.
While I am not a verified source here, I can make an educated guess that lime green is favorable on the evil artistry palette, particularly in animation. Think about the traditional colors of evil – black and red. Black, while often used as accents for evil characters, can be tough to differentiate in animation. Red is also tricky — too deep, it’s gory. Too bright, it’s jarring and difficult to look at for long. If you need a color to drench your evil scene, lime green is it. It’s not pleasant, especially when accented with black or purple. And when used to envelop a character, it projects an uneasy feeling, making the viewers instinctively understand that character is evil.
5. Pigeon Man killed himself in front of Arnold.
This…. I can get behind. 100%. Someday, I may finally finish my thesis on the dark depths of Hey, Arnold!, from Grandma’s perpetual state of denial over the loss of her child to Helga’s brutal upbringing with an abusive father and alcoholic mother. But let’s save that for another time. The theory says that when Arnold sees Pigeon Man carried away into the sunset by pigeons, this is a replaced memory and Pigeon Man actually jumped off the roof and died in front of Arnold. It’s a spin-off of an earlier theory, where the scene was literally created where Pigeon Man jumped to his death, but Nickelodeon wouldn’t allow it to air, so it was changed. Craig Bartlett is on record denying this theory in all its forms. But I’m not convinced. I fully believe Hey, Arnold! is riddled with grim clues that things aren’t exactly as we see them, so to me, this theory is totally plausible.
What do you guys think? About the Jar Jar one, really… I need to know where everybody stands on that.
I know. You’re thinking how is this possible? Netflix is about streaming what you want when you want it. More recently, it’s about new programming. Nick at Nite is about airing old network shows in syndication, and making us feel old for showing The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Full House.
It’s because of one clever little marketing stunt (which Nick was always famous for): Block Party Summer.
Let’s go back —-
Summertime as a kid was the best time. Oh, sure, Christmas was great. But summer had that lasting impact.
Believe it or not, I spent a lot of time outdoors in the summer – swimming, biking, roller-blading, going on adventures with family and friends. But as much time as I spent outside, I spent just as much inside, watching TV. Movies, too. Mostly TV.
Each summer, my brother and I wordlessly developed a schedule of TV viewing. Mornings consisted of Nick Jr., The Price is Right, and Law & Order reruns, with an occasional movie thrown in. Afternoons after swimming would be Stick Stickley in the Afternoon, or another movie. Dinner, when not eating outside, would be Nick game shows or NBC sitcom reruns before the local news. And finally, after a full day of summer activities, we would settle in, hang the beach towels out to dry, and watch Nick at Nite’s Block Party Summer.
In July and August, for several years running, Nick at Nite would designate a day of the week with a marathon, 3 hours-ish, of a specific show. I’ve always loved Nick at Nite’s promos. They were pretty genius. Each summer usually had it’s own jingle, too. Promos would typically have summery themes, like camp or a BBQ. Here are just a few days I remember:
They changed over the years, though Lucy was a near-constant. Fridays were always oddballs – Welcome Back, Kotter, The Wonder Years, etc.
James and I loved these.
And on an Inception-y level, Nick at Nite prepared us for the Netflix binges of today. That’s why it’s not weird to watch 6 episodes in a row of one series — we’ve been doing it our whole lives, thanks to these and other Nick at Nite/TV Land marathons. And check out this promo:
“It’s Nick at Nite’s modern programming miracle! Instead of one ‘Mary,’ you get six in a row — ”
They knew the whole time this would be the future. Thank you, Nick at Nite. Thank you.