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Cartoon Friday Watercooler: Pot Theft


It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

In one sense, I was pushing against the tide of all these artifacts that are coming out — millions and millions of objects that are disappearing from the land. I was putting one back in. — Craig Childs, Pot Theft

Pot Theft is a collaboration between one of my favorite NPR shows and podcasts, Radiolab, and YouTube animators Minute Physics.

Last month, we had our very first (unofficial) artist-in-residence at Radiolab: Henry Reich, the brains behind MinutePhysics. Henry took a story from Craig Childs, the adventure-loving, cliff-scaling explorer from our Things episode, and animated it in trademark Minute Physics style: magic markers, stick figures, and tons of charm.

This animation is part of a series of Radiolab stories about “Things.” But if you’re new to Radiolab I recommend the recent episode “? kg” or the brain-zapping fun of “9-Volt Nirvana.”

Bonus: If you follow Cartoon Friday, you know I love Bob’s Burgers. A lot has been written in praise of Tina Belcher, and the sex-positive yet hilarious way the show handles her character’s adolescent sexual awakening. But fewer writers have analyzed the Belcher family son, Gene.

Writing for The Horn’s Over the Rainbow column, Dana Sayre draws out the show’s LGBTQ subtext in her take on “Genderfluid Gene.”

I’ve always loved Gene’s character for the sassy quotes which make the viewer wonder if he’ll grow up to be gay. Gene’s character gets wonderful one-liners like, ‘You don’t just throw away satin!!’ in ‘A River Runs Through Bob.’ Whether it’s secret spa days with Linda or dressing up in a sequin gown and wig to perform with the girl group he creates at school, Gene isn’t afraid to embrace his feminine (effeminate?) side.

But there are also plenty of times when Gene acts like a ‘normal’ 11-year-old boy. Whether it’s recording fart noises on his electric keyboard, talking about poop, or eating the orange foam from Family Frackus, Gene is just as likely to be grossing out the family as being fabulous.

[…] That definition seems to fit Gene, whose character mixes and matches gender and sexuality stereotypes at will. In ‘OT: The Outside Toilet,’ for example, Gene’s maternal insticts mix with his love of toilets. In the episode, Gene’s class is doing a parenting exercise and he declares to the family, ‘I was born to be a mother.’ Unable to properly care for his bag of flour in class, however, Gene instead cares for an expensive toilet abandoned in the woods. Gene would rather be a mother than a father, but has a love of toilets our culture would not ascribe to the same group who normally mothers children.

Food for thought for my fellow queer pop-culture junkies.

What are you watching?

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The Watercooler is an open conversation. Ask questions, share links and your Friday thoughts.

Potsherd photographed by dedhead1950 released under a Creative Commons license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and