A spooky gothic mansion behind an iron fence, under an ominous cloudy sky

Not pictured: Free Bertha Rochester protest rally outside the East Wing.

It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

What’s lurking in Blackford Manor?

Josette is a sweet and curious young maid at gloomy Blackford Manor, whose master has a very disturbing secret. Starring Martin Rayner, Ashly Burch, and Billy West. Created by Jiwook Kim.

A bit of playful, gothic horror for you tonight! I enjoyed this short film’s silly send-up of all those Brontë-esque tropes. Previously on Cartoon Friday, we also visited with Chainsaw Richard, another animated short from Cartoon Hangover.

Some other cartoon news for you today …

Legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki will receive an honorary Oscar award in November. Via the Wall Street Journal:

Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary Japanese animator and Studio Ghibli co-founder, will receive an honorary Oscar in November, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said.

It will be Miyazaki’s second Oscar, having won in the animated feature film category for his 2001 movie Spirited Away. He was also nominated for Howl’s Moving Castle in 2005 and The Wind Rises last year. In September, the 73-year-old filmmaker reportedly retired, creating doubt about the future of Studio Ghibli, which he co-founded in 1985.

Here on the Watercooler we previously enjoyed a Miyazaki music video. But if you haven’t seen more of his beautiful, stunning animated work, fix that ASAP!

Mother Jones reports that The Simpsons have secretly been teaching you math. It’s too long and detailed to excerpt here so read the whole article, especially if you’re a math geek.

And NPR became the latest media outlet to praise the quirky, sex-positive feminism of Bob’s Burgers. Alexander McCall once again singles out the example of Tina Belcher in his article “Feminism In a Run-Down Taffy Factory.”

[W]hen the show premiered in 2011, the pilot had been streamlined. The animation was better. The dialogue was longer, and most notably, Daniel, Bob’s awkward teenage son, had been replaced with Tina, a female doppelgänger –– a pivotal choice.

Tina is weird. She’s a nervous, idiosyncratic teenager, visibly experiencing the miseries of puberty. She likes horses and describes her relationship with zombies as ‘complicated.’ She sports thick-rimmed glasses and plain clothes. At first glance, Tina might not seem all that unusual. But Tina has a lot going on. When she isn’t working in the restaurant or looking after her younger siblings, she might be pursuing the affection of Jimmy Pesto, Jr., penning another volume of her signature “Erotic Friend Fiction,” or daydreaming about men’s butts.

Most animated sitcoms have ugly histories when it comes to female characters. Women are frequently there to be mocked or to represent men’s sexual desires. But instead of using Tina as an arbitrary tool for cheap laughs, the writers of Bob’s Burgers –– several of whom are women –– have given audiences the opportunity to see adolescence through the lens of a central female character. The show, in fact, embraces Tina’s own sexuality for all its uncomfortable awkwardness.

In the show’s four seasons, Tina has become a fan favorite — and she’s in good company, too. Bob’s Burgers features a number of well-rounded female characters who are clever, strong and entertaining. And in that, the show is progressive without being straightforwardly political.

Tina Belcher’s most obvious influence might seem to be Lisa Simpson, but the two are intrinsically and essentially different. Lisa Simpson is precocious and articulate. Tina is painfully gawky. She’s terrified of being put on the spot, often staring blankly into space and groaning for prolonged periods of time.

[…] The other noticeable difference between the two, however, is that Lisa self-identifies as a feminist. Tina’s unassuming confidence, on the other hand, can fly under the radar, but she still experiences moments of extreme feminist clarity.

‘I’m a smart, strong, sensual woman,’ she proclaims in the first episode of the show’s second season, while trapped in a dilapidated taffy factory. In that episode, Tina decides she doesn’t need to act vulnerable to attract male attention. And in ‘Two For Tina,’ she pursues her own desires without embarrassment, courting two different dates to the school dance, forcing them to compete for her, even if she ultimately ends up alone.

[…] ]I’m no hero,’ Tina declares in season three. ‘I put my bra on one boob at a time like everyone else.’

Seen any good cartoons lately? What are you watching on TV these days?

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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 Occupy.com.