Tag Archive: Ethnical/philosophical Questions

Bob’s Burger” is a sleeper hit animated adult show that started in the shadow of gigantic hits such as “South Park”, “The Simpsons” and Seth MacFarlene’s multiple shows; however as time went on, the show gained attention due to the confluence of its notably likeable characters, well-written humour, and for focusing on a functioning though financially precarious family. Nowadays “Bob’s Burger” is regarded as one the best currently-running animated shows on the Television landscape and it’s not hard to see why. Woven throughout the myriad of individual tales of the week “Bob’s Burgers” tells a simple yet enduring story of a family who, despite communally running a struggling restaurant love and support each other. The show also has a very accurate, non- stereotypical neurodiverse teenage girl in the character of Tina, providing great representation. Along with visualizing characters often not seen in the tv- scape the interplay of the cast often showcases actions which subvert and often avert common gendered stereotypes and tackles the struggle with ordinary but always stressful, economic issues in subtle and complex ways. “Bob’s Burger” has been discussed on this blog before, back when the show had only one season out, and per this writing they are engaged with season eight of their still strong run.


Tina and the real ghost”, is the second episode from Season five and that seasons Halloween special. The episode starts in an appropriately spooky manner with a repair man refusing to go into the restaurant’s basement, with the adamant rebuttal that there lingers an unnatural spirit in the dark abodes of the basement. Bob is annoyed by the unprofessional behaviour, but his wife Linda and the kids get excited at the idea of a haunted storage room laying beneath the restaurant and their home. The family decides on the rational action of spending the fateful hours of the night using a Ouija board in an attempt to contact the alleged wandering spirit. While using the board, the family is informed that the ghost’s name is Jeff, and after some clever manipulation and outlandish commotion they decide that they have to lure the ghost into a shoebox where it remains captured. The children are thrilled with the idea of having a ghost in a box, seeing it as an odd form of friend or pet.


While Gene and Louise use the box to get attention from the other kids at school and Bob uses the image of a “haunted restaurant” for free publicity, Tina develops the beginnings of a relationship with Jeff the (supposed) Ghost. Taking the box on a date to a butterfly conservatory (Butterfly houses are enclosures for the breeding and display of butterfly populations) and after a butterfly lands on her mouth, Tina sees this as a sign of communication with Jeff of the most intimate display. Tina, now enamoured of the subtle moves of Jeff takes the box to school, where having a ghost boyfriend leads to Tina becoming quite popular.


The undeniable attention Jeff and his shoebox gives to the once wallflower Tina creates a seething jealousy in the main bully Tammy. With Tammy agreeing to the obviousness of Jeff’s reality only to set the stage for a break up between Tina and Jeff, and acquiring the shoebox, and Jeff’s affection, for herself. Once again Tammy ascends to the top of the Popularity summit and Tina finds herself forlorn at school and in love. Whilst Tina mourns her loss, Louise, in her guilt at Tina’s breakdown, admits to the parents, Bob and Linda, that she played a prank on the family during the Ouija board event and move the planchette (the moveable pointer on the spirit board) to emulate a spectre and give this young ghostly presence the name Jeff. Louise tormented by her sisters pain desires to admit her deceit to Tina, but the Bob and Linda argue against this course of action to spare Tina from further sorrow. This plot twist, where the parents suggest further deception, sets up the episodes climax.


Left to right: Jimmy, Zeke, Tammy and Jocelyn

Now All Hallows eve has come around and the Belchers (the family name) children go trick-or-treating. Tina, putting on a brave face, joins her peers, including Tammy with the shoebox, and her siblings for the night. Deciding to promote the evening of Halloween eve by entering a graveyard, Things take a further creepy and unsettling turn when the group decides to enter a mausoleum.


As per the usual, the door to the crypt slams shut and after all attempts fail to reopen the mausoleums’ door, the already fearful group discover a message written on the wall: “You are all trapped in here forever, signed Jeff”. Naturally panic ensues and Tammy repents of her actions in absconding with both box and Jeff. Hearkened by this situation, we as the audience are relieved as we feel the protagonist Tina will not be further bullied, but the shock comes when Tina, herself, notes that Jeff isn’t real. Tina confesses her doubts about the reality of the spectral plane and her only half playful acceptance of Jeff as existing. Noting her suspension of doubt bout ghosts was finally cut short when her suspicion of the fantasy of the ghostly world was confirmed when she overheard Louise’s confession to her parents.


Tina starts to wonder about her own suspension of disbelief. Why did she embrace the nothingness of the myth of the ghost? She concludes to her group of friends and siblings that Jeff or his world of the spectral realm isn’t real, but the things that are desired from him still are. Jeff embodies cravings, wants and desires unfulfilled and nebulous. Tina wanted a boy to pay attention to her. Zeke, one of the kids in the gang, admits that he believed in Jeff because he desperately wanted to believe in an afterlife. Gene wanted someone to watch TV with. After the group has their epiphany, Tina states: But we don’t need Jeff to get these things from ourselves”. The conversation is continued with: “It’s ok (that there is no afterlife) it just means we have to take advantage of the here and now”. Tina calls on herself, without a Jeff, to embrace herself. Tina shows Gene that one can watch Tv by himself (it is no reflection of being unwanted) and (as rule of funny) the group tells Tammy to stop being mean and horrible. The Group makes peace and Tina gets complimented on her prankster skills as it is revealed that she had planned and executed the entire evening.

This scene introduces in a simple, yet a very authentic depiction of arguments about the meaning of existence in a transcendental world and of sceptic response that no underlying (transcendental) world is needed to give meaning to human existence. Commonly this argument goes that without the meaning given by another (outside, higher world) there would be no meaning to this world. In this episode of ”Bob’s Burger” Tina gives a response to this rhetoric of transcendental meaning, while also understanding why some have the need for beliefs in the supernatural. The Graveyard scene is stage as a discussion of how people, for various reasons, attempt to seek comfort, hope and affirmation through their beliefs. As Tina understandably wants attention from the opposite sex, Gene desires acceptance and company, and Zeke finds the idea of life being short and eventually final terrifying. The episode operates as an honest, yet sympathetic portrayal of the many reasons for the superstitious or the belief in afterlife, but at the end of the narrative story, Tina herself, stands for the truth in the world we live in. Life and the world we live in give meanings as bounty, but often unseen in our doubts and insecurities. At last, tells Tina, life – being short and inevitably temporary – is therefore precious and should be treasured. To say yes to things, like doing things by yourself. Find meaning, especially in what makes you happy. And, as in Tina’s case, meaning is empowering oneself instead of looking for validation elsewhere.


Bob’s Burger” is interesting not only in showing a working class family with subversive gender presentation, but also provides interesting and subtle secular depictions as well. Unlike most family centric television narratives in the west, where the main leads mention or go to church seemingly regularly, Bob’s Burger” obviously avoids the embedding of religion both in its depiction of the family and the community. Jimmy’s, a character close to the family and a love interest to Tina, causally cements this gentle abandonment with the line and philosophy ”there is nothing after death, but that’s OK”.

As more of the western world turns towards a secular, world centred meaning system, presentation is important, as well as giving vital understanding of where people of the current contemporary moment exist as life and philosophy. The scene with the kids in the mausoleum gives a pitch-perfect depiction of such. It is honest and a sweet, optimistic alternative way of viewing life: we can give to yourselves meaning and importance, despite there being no supernatural forces.

Trigger Warning: Sexual violence.

Also spoilers for “Gotham” and “The Killing joke”.

This week I was a guest on Missmagicgirl´s youtube Channel. We discuss the classic comic “The Killing Joke” by Alan Moore (1988) and the movie adaption with the same name that was released in 2016. The conversation can be found below (I´m the one on the right). Enjoy!

Sniff: “It´s so difficult to be noble when you´re suppose to get rich simultaniously”

-“Moomin and the Railwaystation” by Lars Jansson

“What a massive responsibility, being a moral creature” – R, the zombie protagonist of Marion’s “Warm Bodies”

Isaac Marion’s debut self-published novel “Warm Bodies” is a horror romance novel, or as Seattle Post Intelligencer referred to it: “a zombie romance”. While most of the plot does focus on a potential growing love between a human woman and a male zombie, there are other themes featured in the novel, such as morality, art vs. practical work, what measure is human or non-human and what it means to live a life without depth. “Warm Bodies” is despite its themes a pretty light, fun read with decent characterization and solid characters.

The protagonist of the novel is R, an easy-going zombie who can barely speak and occasionally eats humans when hungry. In the first chapter the reader is introduced to his life by learning of his friend, the sexually vivacious M, and witnessing him getting married to a nameless zombie woman he has known for a few hours and the following day adopting two zombie children, all the while wondering in ghostly airports and empty eerie lands, preying on the helpless humans in this bleak landscape. Already from the first chapter Marion paints an ever familiar scenario which is played with: that being the chaotic and near dead world where zombies are constant killing machines. But from the very first page, Marion turns all expectations on their head by giving R, one of the undead killing machines and protagonist of this tale, a distinctively robust human side and positing the post-dead M as a foil of fine comic relief. R tries to improve his speaking abilities and speculates on what his life may have been before the era of the reanimated dead. He frets over having two unplanned children, due to his suspicion of whether he can take care for them or not. R is a zombie no doubt, but instead of being mindless he is quite relatable.

Nicholas Hoult in the upcoming film adaption of “Warm Bodies” (in 2013)

The Zombie’ obsession of eating brains is also explained with the fact that by devouring human brains, they inherit and live through the human’s memories. M, for instance, enjoys eating young women’s brains since he finds their memories especially titillating.

After R devours a suicidal teenager’s brains, he also consumes the teenager’s memories and most importantly his intense feelings of love for another teenager, Julie. R becomes so wrapped up in the experience that he at once becomes obsessed with Julie. He finds a way to take the frightened Julie back to his home, there to protect and hide her from his ravenous zombie friends.

The novel is told entirely from R’s point of view, where he laments on his inability to feel anything. The zombies are shown as creatures that despite forming marriages and families, very rarely get attached to anything, harboring only thinly vacuous emotions. After devouring the melancholy teenager, R is introduced to an entirely different world filled with high and powerful emotions, filled with deep relationships, which motivates him to starts a desperately search for a world he lost once he became a zombie. Through R Marion cleverly illustrates a host of questions revolving around what it means to be human and what matters in life. R after this human meal and the memories foisted upon him by it becomes fairly unhappy with his state as an undead once he is reintroduced to the vast emotions humans are capable of. He desperately wants something else than the motivation to survive and eat, but how he will be able to attend these new wishes is the question.

An Image used in “Warm Bodies”

Even if “Warm Bodies” is described as a romance novel, the love story between R and Julie isn’t just a romance played straight. It is never really clear whether R really falls in love with Julie, or if he is just clinging to her because she’s his ticket to becoming more humane. She is a clear motivation, but R even wonders himself if he is really fond of Julie or if she just symbolizes something that R wants to become a part of. This makes his motivations ambiguous, which nicely subverts the all too common and overly romanticized “love stories” between a human women and non-human men in modern days written in the realms of the paranormal fiction.

Through the memories R devours the reader is also introduced to the post-apocalyptic lives of the humans, where it is constantly discussed what is useful in a nearly-dead society and what isn’t. Debates of whether literature and gardening is worth anything in the post-apocalyptic world appear various times in the flashbacks and intellectual meanderings which R has throughout the novel. Not surprisingly Marion sides with the arguments for art in a desperate world, but with good reason: it is made clear that humans should always express themselves, since documenting ourselves as well as expressing our human selves is one of the finest traits we have, along with the capability to form meaningful relationships. So “Warm Bodies” straight out states that culture is what makes humans human. As Marion, through his character, states: “Writing isn’t letters on paper. It’s communication. It’s memory.” The fact that culture is human memory and individual memory seems even more important while reading through the barrenness R feels (since he has no memory of who he was) and even the zombie’s nature of compressed and secondarily acquired memories cannot fill this vacuum of experience.

Despite some interesting elements, the novel has also quite a few problematic plotlines. For instance, the main female lead Julie is cast in a typical distressed damsel trope with her existence hinging continually in the need of the male protagonist. Though one may give this some leeway as, granted, it may be justified by her being human and surrounded by zombies.

The ending of “Warm Bodies”, additionally, comes across as forced and felt very contrived, especially given the strength of the beginning of the novel. There won’t be any spoilers in this post, but rest assured that the novel’s characters go through mayor changes which sources are never explained properly. With Rules of the reanimated and undead clearly set up within the novel there is suddenly a dramatic suspension of the internal consistency of these rules. This sudden suspension seems to be only so the novel can achieve a happy ending. Needless to say this is unsatisfactory to the lineage of the novel and ruins what has developed before.

All and all, for those who want to read a horror novel within the realm of the zombie apocalypse that is a little different, “Warm Bodies” is a fast and highly entertaining read.

Isaac Marion

Animated movies are a lot of fun, for countless reasons. One is they usually are packed with funny, loveable (or hateable, depending on their roll in the film) characters. Another is that they usually are made for everyone, for all ages.  They are usually made skillfully etc. The thing that I tend to like most in animated films are the subtle and unsubtle messages they deliver, consciously or not.  This article will be about an unsubtle (probably even unaware) commentary an animated movie does about the right to one’s own death.                                                                                                                         ”Igor” is an animated film from 2008, directed by Anthony Leondis. The plot circles around a man named Igor who lives in the forever bad-weathered fictional country Malaria. Since it is impossible to crop any food, the country has decided to invest in evil inventions that they can use to threaten other countries for money. Malaria has of course a bunch of Evil Scientist to create these evil inventions – and they in their turn have assistants called “Igors”. The hero of this movie is an Igor that wants to be an Evil Scientist, and how he tries to accomplish this dream.  I found this movie to be quiet good; the story was very gothic , edgy and in the end very touching.  There are some interesting subjects that this movie takes up – either on purpose or by accident, I’m not sure which. But one interesting theme this movie picks up on is euthanasia. Or rather, it awakes the question whether it is right to force someone to live when they want to die.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Scamper, one of Igor’s inventions, is a talking rabbit that is immortal. He cannot die, even if he desperately wants to, attempting suicide over and over again, constantly failing. Igor introduces Scamper by explaining that he is an evil invention in two ways: “I made him invincible, which makes it so he can’t kill himself, which is evil to him because he wants to die”. Scampers suicide attempts vary from simple to extreme, yet he always recovers from his injuries after a few seconds. Through Scamper the creatures of this film hint that it is actually “evil” to force someone to live when they do not wish to do so. It seems to me that they imply that Igor should have been noble and tried to fix Scamper back to mortal – so he can finish the task he so barely wants to finish.  Scamper feels like his existence is annoying and bitter. He doesn’t want it anymore. But his right over his own body and life is has been token away from him. This to me is a pro-euthanasia message; if a person wants to die, they should have the right to do so.  Another thing that is interesting to point out is that while Scamper is trying to end his life, and grows frustrated by not being able to do so, no one takes the time to talk to Scamper and try to convince him there is a point to life. Or that no one tells him they are willing to listen to his problems once in a while to make him feel better. Scamper is after all immortal, no reason to try and make him value his life. He can’t get rid of it anyway, why waste time consulting him in his problems. This is an interesting critic of the attitude towards people that want to die. To movie implies that if you don’t want people to kill themselves you should try make it so that people with serious pains or depressions can talk to someone to make them see things differently. Not by preventing them physically from doing it and just leaving them to be. It is shown later in the movie, for example, that after realizing he is truly friends with Igor and Igor’s other “evil inventions”, Scamper changes his mind and wants to live. Here comes yet another interesting point of view this movies has on suicide – if people feel like there is something actually good in their lives, they soon decide that life is worth living. It also implies that most suicidal people go through faze, and with the right kind of “help” will change their minds and want to live. So is it really so that keeping Scamper alive was “evil” or was it maybe for the best in the long run? The film seems to argue for bought statements.