Thursday, April 26, 2007

Gonna take pollution down to zero.

I love Captain Planet. I really do. The girls from WETT and I spend a good deal of time yesterday talking about how early 90s cartoons indoctrinated us into a variety of forms of environmental action, and how that is the current purpose of a film like Happy Feet. (Which also has a lot of other things going on in it that I will not discuss now.) We learned to save the rainforests and not create toxic smog (which would ultimately be voiced by Tim Curry) from Ferngully: The Last Rainforest and those messages were further reinforced by Captain Planet.

Until last night, though, I have been in error about one crucial part of my CP knowledge. I always believe that the coolest part of the show was the fact that the American kid was wheelchair-bound. I thought it was an interesting statement on the political mobility of our country, being somewhat in-stasis in regards to environmental issues. I also recalled that the wheelchair-bound American kid was somewhat cruelly named "Wheeler."

I brought up these facts--my Captain Planet Wheeler facts--last night. And I was met with blank stares.

"Was not the American kid in a wheelchair? And was he not, in fact, named Wheeler?" I ask.

"Are you thinking of the kid from the Burger King Kids Club?" That's the response I get.

Somehow, over the years, I have managed to conflate the image of fully-mobile, American, red-headed "Fire"-power Planeteer Wheeler:

with this auburn-haired, jean jacket-wearing parapalegic kid who is, in fact, very cruelly nicknamed "Wheels:"

I guess this is because I ate Burger King a lot as a kid, or, as Cassie informs me, those BK Kids Club commercials usually ran during Saturday morning cartoons. Thus, it would be really easy for me to conflate the able, fire-producing body of one man associated with wheels to the disabled, burger-ingesting body of another. I checked out the article on Captain Planet and on the Planeteers on Wikipedia today to be certain that, at the very least, my fiery American kid was at least named "Wheeler." He was. So I'm half right.

Frankly, my version of the Wheeler from Captain Planet is a lot more interesting. I guess it does make a lot of sense, though, that a red-headed American boy from Brooklyn (who acquired his power ring in an incident related to a mugging) with a temper would be given the power of fire.

What might be even more interesting, though, is that the real Wheeler, not my imagined Wheeler, doesn't seem to be interested in things with wheels at all. His favorite activity, according to the Captain Planet junkies on Wikipedia, is windsurfing.

Edit as of 8 PM:
I am even more confused as to why someone--even an imaginary unseen cartoon parent--would name their son Wheeler, as Wikipedia seems to indicate that Wheeler's full name is Wheeler Sloane. Now, if those names were reversed and he were Sloane Wheeler I would find that believable, but not given who Planeteer Wheeler actually is. You know, from Brooklyn. Not the Upper East Side.


Marcus said...

Hey, Cassie and I BOTH told you why you confused the two characters, in re: Saturday morning cartoons.

I will, however, retract one statement I said last night after seeing that Burger King Kids Club photo: Wheels did not, in fact, like video games. That would be Kid Vid. Much like you, I combined characters, but at least I f'ing did it from the same set of kids, and not a combination of burger-and-fries peddlers and some gay ecofriendly bitches with a green flat-topped Aquafag Frankenstein as their commander.

Meg said...

Fantastic. All of this.

I remember simultaneously loving and loathing CP, for reasons I couldn't figure out then and can't figure out now. I hated that the bad chick with the disfigured face covered it dramatically with her stupid blond hair.

Though now, in retrospect, it seems there might be some sort of deeper meanign to that.

Especially because, wasn't she Russian?

Stevi said...

Actually, Dr. Blight, the eco-terrorist to whom you are referring is not Russian. She's just from Hollywood. Which makes even more sense. (More on Dr. Babs Blight:

Wheeler's pseudo-girlfriend Planeteer Linka is Russian, but after the fall of the USSR, she just became Standard Eastern European. I feel like her pseudo-relationship with Wheeler, and their eventual admission of interest in one another, creates a really strange parallel to the politics of Glasnost and Perestoika.

Drew said...

i totally remember those Burger King kids club commercials. they always begin with a live action shot of the treehouse they hung out in, even if the kids themselves were animated.

on that note, how tremendously fucked was it that the kids club made poor Wheels somehow trek his way up into a treehouse without proper wheelchair access?

just a thought.