Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TV Tuesday: The Clone Wars

The Clone Wars is a cartoon series, currently in its second season, aired on Cartoon Network. It is a computer animated account of the Star Wars saga during the period between movies 2 and 3. Obviously, the primary target audience consists of Star Wars fans, but it is marketed to (and in some ways written for) children as well.

I think this series is a good one for teens, although younger people could watch it too with parental supervision and input, depending on family values, of course. For the most part, the stories are well developed, but easy to follow, with some being more mature and others less to appeal to the broadest audience.

I like that, while each 30-minute episode contains a complete plot, they are all part of a larger story leading to an ultimate resolution. They also explain different things and characters found in the movies but left undeveloped. This kind of detail can be hard to find in modern entertainment. The series also explores a lot of political and philosophical ideas through its setting. For example, many episodes involve conflict between soldiers and pacifists, forcing an examination of the motives of each group and the breadth of their principles (Should a pacifist engage in violent behavior for self-defense?).

However, the show is naturally a violent one--it tells the story of a war, after all. While it does depict a certain amount of torture when characters are captured, there is never any depiction of blood. Also, female characters are generally depicted in a very sexual manner, regardless of their role in the story. Their clothes are often tight or revealing, their body shape is exaggerated, and they move in a seductive manner. While female characters are also often intelligent, strong, and powerful (featured as heroes, villains, soldiers, civilians, and politicians), they are clearly visually designed to appeal to a particular audience.

Overall, The Clone Wars is an engaging and amusing show with plenty to engage adults and children alike. However, I do not think it is appropriate for young children.

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