“Do what thoust will be the whole piece of law.” — Magic Man
Yes, it’s true, I watch Adventure Time. It has been one of my nine year old son’s favorite shows since its debut on Cartoon Network back in 2010. I was quick to dismiss it. I didn’t care for the animation and at a glance it seemed childish and uninteresting. My son begged me to watch it with him and I eventually did. It’s now my favorite show on television and last night’s episode was a terrific showcase for why that is so.
First, for those of you who don’t watch, the gist is simple — Finn is, presumably, the last living human on a post-apocalyptic Earth that is now populated by mutated creatures that live in various kingdoms throughout the Land of Ooo. He’s a teenage boy with a thirst for adventure, but with an admirable moral center and an all-consuming desire to do good and be a hero. His best friend is Jake, a mutated dog that talks and can manipulate his body into various shapes and sizes.
On the surface, it’s a fun show, often with a veiled life lesson, but it is richly layered and pretty darn deep, especially when it digs into the rich backstory of characters such as the villainous Ice King and Marceline the Vampire Queen. I’ve actually been moved to tears on more than one occasion.
The creators are brilliant in writing a show that can be viewed on so many different levels. Connor and I are watching two very different shows, I assure you.
As I said, last night’s episode, “All the Little People” was a perfect example of this.
For Connor, it was an episode in which the nefarious Magic Man tricked Finn by sneaking him a bag filled with magical tiny versions of Adventure Time characters. Finn, bored, takes them out and plays with them, realizes he can manipulate them into doing whatever he wants them to do, and sets out toying with their emotions, wrecking relationships, and creating much distress among these tiny folk. Realizing his mistake he figures out a way to communicate with them, tells them he’s sorry, and that it was all his fault. It ends with him suggesting they have a dance party and they do just that.
For me, the show was all about magick, religion, and free will. Magic Man, as quoted above, casts a spell upon these homunculi (using a perversion of Aleister Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law“) and Finn assumes a godlike role over them. There are definite allusions to masturbatory magic as a means of communicating with these tiny critters who are shown to be in an alternate dimension. Finn, their cruel horned god, apologizes for his behavior, accepting the blame for their tumultuous lives, and abandons them, promising never to return, and returning to them the gift of free will.
It was really heavy stuff that I will be chewing on for days to come.
If you’re not watching Adventure Time, you should be. At the very least, track down the latest episode, “All the Little People” and have a look. I think you’ll be very much surprised.