I used to think Elvis was cool. His style, his singing, the whole “King” package.
Then I learned how he was abusive, how he ripped off songs from people of color, how he fell to drugs just like all the rest.
I felt a bit sad. Until my best friend in high school picked up an acoustic guitar and introduced me to Johnny Cash, playing through his songs. He had his own demons, yet he seemed to overcome them rather than become them. I felt a bit better.
I remember the first time I heard the Beatles. They sounded so different, somehow, and I was mesmerized.
Then I learned how they turned commerical, formed their own label, sued so many other small artists over a few familiar riffs, and became just another cold, corporate, proto-boy band.
I felt a bit sad. Until my partner introduced me to an entire forgotten catalog of 60′s progressive/psychedelic rock from bands I would jokingly refer to as “the flora and fauna mixups” - The Hollies, The Turtles, Strawberry Alarm Clock, The Byrds, Captain Beyond, Country Joe and the Fish, The Moody Blues, and more. Suddenly the “different” sounds I had enjoyed became a much bigger landscape with so many roots. The bugs could keep their megastatus; I liked these little bands better.
When I was little I honestly thought Michael Jackson was two different people - a young black man, who had died somehow, and an older white lady who had taken his place as a kind of “tribute” act.
Then I learned about...well, just everything. Michael Jackson just has so many issues.
I felt a bit sad. All that music and legendary pop beat, yet I couldn’t get behind the singer. Until my friends shifted me over to Prince - and how truly talented he was, not just at singing but at guitar. He had some crazy identity changes too, and definitely some rock star issues, but he remained himself through-and-through. I felt a bit better.
There are many stars in the sky to follow at night. It’s not always the brightest ones you need to navigate; sometimes it’s that second one to the right, or the constellations formed by so many smaller ones, or the ones that burn out quickly but leave their trails for more to follow.
Fall From Grace: A Butch Hartman Story
If anyone could become a fallen idol it is Butch Hartman. Butch Hartman is an animator who used to work for Nichelodeon, creating two of the studios best shows, The Fairly OddParents and Danny Phantom. He’s also made other cartoons for the network like TUFF Puppy and Bunsen is a Beast, which were not well liked as far as I understand. Then in 2018 he left Nickelodeon to pursue new projects. I’ll be honest, I was rooting for the guy back then. I admired the guy for his animation style and the great characters he’s created. He seemed like a person who could do no wrong. But boy was I 100% dead wrong about him.
It’s after his departure from Nick was where things really went sour about the man. In 2018, Butch Hartman pitched an idea for a family friendly streaming service called Oaxis Entertainment. He raised money on this from a Kickstarter campaign and passed his goal two years ago. But then it was revealed at a Christian conference that he intended Oaxis to be a Christian network and that he was going to Trojan horse the teachings of Christ into viewing audiences. Look, it’s not a problem if he wanted to make a network centered around his faith. The real problem was that in the beginning he was super vague about his intentions for Oaxis to his backers. He essentially lied to them. And after two years the project has gone silent. He has yet to present any content for his supposed streaming service. So everyone that backed him was ripped off.
He’s also made some videos stating that anyone that critiques is work are weak and that all introverts are selfish. Maybe people who are introverts are just more comfortable by themselves and have a hard time communicating with others or communicating with others makes them uncomfortable. Ever thought about that, Butch? Or maybe the people that are criticising you that you deem as "weak" are doing so because you've been saying and doing some really shady stuff and you don't own up to any of it.
And then there was these outlandish talks where he stated during a Christian conference that there was no depression when he was a kid, which only prooves that he’s full of himself. Then there was his podcast chat with voice actress goddess Tara Strong where he crudely joked how the previous voice actress committed suicide because of her. For those who don’t know, the character of Timmy Turner wasn’t always voiced by Tara Strong. The character was voiced Mary Kay Bergman, who voiced all the female characters of South Park, back when Butch made Fairly OddParents shorts for Oh Yeah Cartoons!. His "joke" was really in poor taste, especially when Tara Strong was good friends with Mary Kay Bergman. It really makes you ask 'what the hell'.
What’s Butch up to now? Oh boy, here’s where things get interesting. Recently he’s caught fire about promoting the idea that prayer can cure anything, including autism. As an adult on the autism spectrum this kind of bullshit offends me. He’s basically say that autism is a disease that can be cured. Autism isn’t something that can be fixed and it doesn't need a cure of any sort. It’s like being mentally challenged or being gay. It’s just a part of someone that needs to be understood more. Hell many people in the modern day and throughout history are on the autism spectrum, and have contributed greatly and successfully to society. Dan Aykroyd is one. Bill Gates is another. Even Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokemon, has autism. What’s more insulting is that he’s not only stating prayer can cure autism but also cancer. This shit really frustrates me. It is not only offensive to those who have cancer and tricking them into thinking that the only way to truelly cure it is with prayer, but extremely offensive to those that have prayed to be cured of cancer but still died from cancer.
There's also been talks lately how Butch Hartman hasn't paid an artist on YouTube for his services. A YouTube artist named Kuro was originally working with Butch in a series of animation projects, and has, as of yet, paid Kuro for his services. If you'd like to learn more about this subject matter I highly recommend you watch the video Kuro posted on his YouTube channel discussing the situation.
He’s also recently made a flash animated show called The Garden. Since he’s been pretty open about his Christianity he’s gone to make a Christian cartoon for sheltered Christian children. It’s about a lion and a lamb (Do you get it? Because Bible) that live and work in some magical place known as the Garden. Huh, I thought Christians were against magic. Oh I guess it’s only okay if the magic came from the Almighty, right? Any who, they go around doing tasks for a myserious voice known as The Boss. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that it’s meant to be God, but for the sake of poking fun of this concept I’m going to say that The Boss is Satan. Would you like to view his new animation project? Well you can watch all six five minute episodes of this show for the well low price of $130. Yes, I’m serious. The man wants you to pay $130. The big question really is why even put that kind of price at all? Why not put them on YouTube for free? I haven't watch The Garden myself but from what I've seen it doesn't even look like it's worth the price that Butch is peddling.
A YouTuber named MyseriousMrEnter described Butch Hartman as the M. Night Shyamalan of animation, and I think that’s probably the most accurate way to describe him these days. Like Shyamalan he started off with big hits, he was a creative genius in his early years. But then he let his ego go to his head and then his reputation as well as his creativeness went downhill. Also he made a really crappy live-action movie of a popular cartoon. Butch once bragged that he was the creator of my childhood. I’m sorry Butch but you only had a small influence on my childhood. You are not Stan Lee. You are not Steven Spielberg. You are not Genndy Tartakovsky, the creator of Dextor’s Lab and Samurai Jack. You are not Stephen Hillenberg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants. You aren’t even Bruce Timm, the creator behind many DC animated properties such as Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League. To me, nowadays, you are nothing but a wolf in sheeps clothing. A con artist. A snake oil salesman. You are no different than the televangelists that rip off people for their money. It's too bad because I really liked the guy. I liked his animation style. I liked his characters. I liked (half) his shows. It really is a shame to see someone you admire just fall from grace.
As the old saying goes: hate the artist, don't hate the art.
#opinion #essay #ButchHartman #Nickelodeon #animation #controversy