Friday, February 11, 2011

Common Parlance: Scott Bernard

I already did this one once, but I've changed the format of the Common Parlance entries, and thought it bore repeating.
When I was a teenager, cartoons were terrible. With the exception of the Transformers and about a third of GI Joe, there was very little available for an impressionable adolescent to latch on to and form harmful opinions on. That's where Japanese cartoons (or anime if you're snooty, or Japanamation if you're an idiot) came in. Japanese culture is very different than American culture, mainly because it's much cooler. In Japan, everybody carries around giant swords to behead each other with. In Japan, you can't die until you've written a poem celebrating your own death. In Japan, adults watch cartoons.

Back when I was a kid, anime had just started to filter into American culture. There wasn't much of it yet, but it was starting to make an impact. The vanguard of Japanimation was Robotech. Robotech was a set of three unrelated cartoons that were bought by Harmony Gold, an American company, redubbed (painfully), and presented as a single, seamless show. It was freaking awesome.

From the very beginning of the first show, where aliens come to Earth and proceed to rain death and destruction down upon the planet, I was hooked. There were things you could see in a Japanese cartoon that you would never see on an American cartoon: people dying, complicated sexual relationships, self-sacrifice, story arcs that continued from episode to episode, tentacle porn...

(Well, okay, they didn't have that last one, but it should have.)

In the third part of the saga, aliens have taken over the Earth and Scott Bernard, a lone soldier, crash lands back on the planet to help liberate it. Military technology is hard to come by and for many episodes, our hero and his friends have to fight off the enemy with motorcycles that transform into battle armor; they're painfully outmatched by the giant crab robots they fight.

Scott eventually discovers a giant robot/jet fighter machine called an Alpha Veritech. In a tense scene, two giant alien battle machines are bearing down on his team as they rush to ready the Veritech. Finally, Scott Bernard and the Veritech blast out of their hiding place. He presses a button, and panels open up all over the ship. A hundred rockets shoot forth and blow the two alien machines to hell. Afterwards, sitting on the floor and watching the credits roll, a thought slowly crossed my mind:

"So, what is he going to shoot with now?"

I mean, they've been scrounging for weapons and equipment for a dozen episodes, they're outmatched, they've only begun to make a dent in the enemy, and Scott Bernard decides to fire everything on the frigging ship?

From that day forth, whenever I saw someone use an overwhelming, self-destructive response to a tiny threat, I called it a Scott Bernard. You should, too.

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