Skip to content

Everybody Knows Your Name, Post-Apocalypse

March 31, 2013

icekingWhen I heard about the premise of last week’s episode of Adventure Time, I was a little worried. I love how the series hints at characters’ backgrounds– dropping little hints here and there without going into full-on flashbacks. At most we get a line here or there or a brief glimpse of the bigger picture. Whole episodes devoted to big reveals like this episode– where we see Ice King and Marceline traversing the post-Mushroom War wastelands 1000 years ago– kinda run counter to what works with the series. It sounded a little too fanservice-ish in giving peeps the sort of in-depth exposition they so crave.

Then Ice King broke into a rendition of the theme song from Cheers and things went all freaky crazy.

In and of themselves, most 80s sitcom theme songs are pretty dismal and hollow. You have these peppy synthesizer-driven soft pop tunes spouting drivel about friendship and love written by people who have probably never really experienced those sorts of feelings. It’s the same sort of empty, cynical artifice I feel from your average moe anime– attempts at being heartwarming and familiar with the same amount of reality and emotion as a Star Wars Clone Trooper.

Being a kid who grew up in that era and watched a hell of a lot of TV, this shit was burned into my mind. Even as a little brat I found these songs unnerving and grotesque. But what makes these songs all the more horrifying in my mind is how I’d hear them as I’d go to sleep. I had a fairly early bedtime in elementary school, but I rarely actually fell asleep right away. So I’d be in bed, alone with nothing but stuffed animals, my childish thoughts and fantasies, and the faint chanting of Who’s the Boss, Cheers, and Three’s Company reruns playing in the background.

Think of it this way. Going to sleep is a lot like dying. You lay there in darkness awaiting your consciousness to drift away into nothingness– yearning for restful oblivion– and as you await losing your self-awareness, the only thing you hear is:

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Your name.
You wanna go where people know,
People are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows
Your name.

As a kid, I doubt I could consciously process the meaning behind those lyrics, but they burned themselves into my mind. Combined the banality of those words with that death-like feeling of falling asleep– and have those thoughts repeat on a nightly basis– and the only feeling I get when I hear these songs is profound existential dread. This shit makes me think of death and the inevitability that, yeah, I might not exist at some point in the future.

So then this episode of Adventure Time happened. Ice King is struggling with the idea that his crown is the only thing that’s keeping him and Marceline alive in the post-apocalypse world, but every time he uses it he feels another piece of his identity slip away. The crown’s going to consume his very essence eventually– and we as the audience know he’s a lost cause– and the only thing he can do to try to retain some semblance of self is to sing the theme song from Cheers as he dons the crown.

The Ice King wants us to remember his mortal name in the inevitability that he forgets it.

Yeah. This episode hit me in the spiritual gut. Creepy, personal stuff. I fucking love Adventure Time.

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 30, 2013 2:53 PM

    Blog more about Adventure Time! Also, post a Top 50 Cartoons List that explains why Adventure Time is so awesome in one single paragraph!

Got Something To Say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: