Monday, June 26, 2006

Answering a comment.

I love to receive comments, mainly because I enjoy finding out what my viewers/readers think of what I'm doing or have done. That said, I don't actually get very many. I also used to be a lot better at answering each comment "back in the day." Not so much these days, but what can I say? My interest in blogging has been waning for some time now.

However, my previous post about the Dora plug-and-play video game generated a comment that I felt I really needed to respond to. My comments, for a change, are in blue. It's going to be pretty blue and I didn't want my normal red to be overwhelming. Take it away Don.

Don said...


Having kids, we are familiar with these characters as well as being aware of what is being implied.
I have kids as well, although I haven't watched Dora. My daughter watches daytime TV at her mom's apartment while I'm at work, therefor I've never actually seen the show. Since she is familiar with the Dora character, I assume that means she watches it, and she also seems to enjoy it. I'm not down on the show, I just feel that this particular product wasn't well thought out.
To answer the implied question, this whole "discussion"...
Actually, it wasn't a "discussion". It was an observation. Specifically "my" observation. Now that I'm replying to your comment it's a "discussion". Of sorts.
... is based on a combination of not knowing what things are ...
Which I admitted, when I asked "I really want to know if that stick is a character?". Although apparently not enough to hit Google. And, thanks to your comment, now I know.
... and seeing what you want.
I wouldn't say "want". I'm not one of those people that prowl the toy section looking for things to offend me. And, to be totally honest, I'm not offended. Merely shocked that nobody at any stage of the development realized how that might look to someone unfamiliar with the Dora "universe". I also admitted that "Maybe I just have a dirty mind", however I'm not the only person in the world who would see something potentially wrong with the presentation of this product. Heck, Amazon only has two pictures of it and both were taken either "straight on" or "high angle" in an apparent attempt to minimize the – no doubt – unintended aspect presented from a side on view. That's also just speculation on my part since I don't work for Amazon and don't know where the photos came from.
It has nothing to do with what things actually are or even look like to someone not looking for it.
Again, I wasn't "looking for it". I just "saw" it. I'm also really good at those Magic Eye pictures, and "Spot the Differences" puzzles. And I kick ass at tangrams. I like to look at things in ways that other people might not. This, this and this for instance. Some people find my observations funny, others might find them in bad taste – I might have a better idea of the ratio of "funny to not" if more people commented. Ahem. I do realize though that absolutely nothing will ever please everyone.

1. It's not 'fleshy pink.' It is a yellowish tan, the color of the character: a rolled up paper map.
You are correct. It's more of a yellowish tan than a pink. However, I still say that it is a color that could pass for a flesh tone on a toy. And I would never have guessed that was a map, given all the time in the world, since I have never seen the show. It's silly if they expect that everyone who sees this product will also have seen their show. It's even possible there are still people who have never seen an episode of 'The Simpsons'.

2. It is curved because the character's cartoon style has a curve no matter what angle it is drawn from. If you've ever tried to convert a 2-d character to 3-d, this would be more obvious.
You are right. Strange things can come about when converting from 2D to 3D. That still doesn't make deciding to go forward with that design when this point was reached a "smart thing". For starters, "joysticks" have been perceived as phallic since the days of the Atari 2600 (not a work-safe link). Making one that is yellowish tan and curved DOESN'T HELP allay that perception. Why go with a joystick at all? Why not use a directional pad? My daughter has been comfortable with using a Playstation controller to navigate simple games since she was three, well within the age range for this game and something tells me it's not that complex a game. Apart from "retro" Atari plug-n-play game collections and flight stick game controllers for the computer, where do you see joysticks used anymore? Small, analog thumbsticks, sure. But "full on" joysticks? I still feel that this was an ill conceived and poorly executed design.

3. The 'ridge' is simply the rest of the rolled up map.
Okay, that convinced me that I needed to seek out a screenshot or something of "Map". Here's what I found. Seeing it reinforces what I've been thinking since you revealed that it was a map. Where's the seam? The end of the roll? As it turns out, on the actual Map it's even more than a seam. Judging from the pictures, he has an entire flap hanging open, which makes sense if he's meant to be rolled up paper. So, in the conversion from 2D to 3D they managed to keep the curve and the face, but not the flap. Of course, if the flap were there the joystick might not have been very comfortable to hold, however there could have been a slight seam down one side and something could have been done with the top to make it look more like rolled up paper. Basically, if it had to be made this way, it could have been done better.

4. You're reaching -most cartoon characters have 'happy' expressions.
I really don't think that it was reaching to imply that monkeys, real monkeys, enjoy self gratification. At least the ones at the zoo that my children have witnessed "spanking the monkey's monkey" certainly do. And I'm not the one that decided just where the monkey should be looking. He COULD have been looking out at the player, like Dora is, but he isn't.

5. The Map character has a face on the show.
Right. But I didn't know it was a map. I thought it was a pencil, to be honest. Or a pen. By having a face I was sure it was a character of some sort.

6. This is definately an interpret-the-way-you-want observation.
More like a "What else can I say about this thing? Why not make fun of the face on the character I don't understand?" observation. I will stick to my opinion that it looks different when viewed at an angle than when viewed straight on, and that difference isn't flattering. Again, a peril of going from tame and controllable 2D to wild and wooly 3D.

7. The 'bush' is made of giant green leaves -not very suggestive unless that already on the mind... even then it's a stretch.
That's why it's 7th on the list. Also, it WAS on the mind because of nearly everything I'd already mentioned. I never said it jumped right out at me. It was just something I thought of on further reflection. I thought, "It's coming out of a bush... why a bush? 'bush'... heh." and that's all it took. Ultimately, it wasn't my most compelling observation, nor was it the driving point behind the post.

Not trying to be "preachy", but there's not a child out there who would interpret this product the way it is descibed here.
I don't know if I agree with this. There may not be a child out there who watches Dora and is already familiar with the characters who would interpret it the way that I have, or a child under the age of nine or ten, however I'm reasonably sure that there are some children not "into" Dora that might make that connection, particularly boys. You need to remember that children generally find things of a biological nature to be most humorous. They are the kings and queens of ca-ca humor and they are always on the lookout for new material.
It's not a marketing issue, it's an interpretation issue.
You don't think that people marketing something need to consider how their product might be interpreted? Particularly if the one holding the money might not know the key players that are present on the product? Not the exact same thing – beyond odd design choice and parental interpretation – but do you recall hearing about the vibrating Harry Potter broomstick? If not, head here, here and here. Interpretation is very important, particularly at the parental level.

I've only responded because I get tired of inocent things being twisted in the name of humor.
That's just a part of humor. In fact, something almost HAS to be twisted to be funny, and if it is something normally perceived as "innocent" the comedy impact can be even greater. It's difficult to be funny about things that are intended to be shocking, because then you are just competing for attention. It's more effective if it catches the observer off guard. As for this being an "innocent thing", if they had considered their design a bit more and perhaps went with something more like this:

I never would have said a thing about it. I'm not out to get Dora, nor do I have any driving force behind posting what I did beyond sharing something I found to be strange and funny. I haven't written an angry, indignant letter to the manufacturer, nor would I. It just tickled me funny and it's my website. Like milage, humor varies and I understand why this wasn't amusing to you. So it goes.

I originally linked here to see some artwork, which I have always found to be quite inpressive, whether I agree with the subject matter or not. It just seems there is less and less of that recently.
Actually, there has been pretty much the same amount of artwork since you first visited. Since I started participating in Illustration Friday I've only missed two words, one which was recent. Admittedly, I've been posting fewer personal projects than I used to, but that's mainly because I haven't been doing any. If you had visited "back in the day" when the art was a rare event I imagine you would never have been back. Thanks for the compliment though.

Take care!
You too!

Delete away... ;-)
Mmmm. Not quite. ;)

4:02 PM


Derek Knight said...

ha. ha. ha.

Sorrel Sparks said...

Good for you! It is quite shocking! I looked at the picture before reading your 'conversation', and nearly spat tea all over my computer! It is very funny, and quite extraodinary that it made it from the sketch book to the shelf without any of the production team giggleing uncontrolably!

andy K said...

Way to go Collin!

Don said...


ValGalArt said...

i have really enjoyed reading this! The fact is that this is YOUR blog so you can really challenge any and all things in life that you like. But you really did a point by point explanation that was really valid and interesting and by the way I liked the sketch you made for how the product could be!!!

"Boring a hole in the patient’s head creates a door through which the demons can escape, and - viola! - out goes the crazy."