An Analysis of the Smurfs

So I’ve been watching Smurf’s lately. Super-formulaic, also a great cartoon. Definite must-watch and must-study for making a cartoon. Great to analyze. What I observed:

I’ve thought about creating a SHEEPLE cartoon at some point.  I met a friend who is interested in writing the pilot, which behooved me to step up brainstorming game on this.  This would undoubtedly be a great undertaking–it’s a tricky problem to solve–but it’s fun to kick ideas around at any rate. 

I thought this might be a good opportunity to show how a creative mind (mine, in this case) goes about imagining a creative solution to a problem like this, which in this case is writing a children’s cartoon (which adults find entertaining as well), with zero background in that field.  I came up with a creativity method while travelling around Asia, which bypasses things like Writer’s Block and attacks the creative from an analytical perspective. I’m also working on a book about creativity. But I digress.

The creative steps to solving a problem like this:

STEP ONE – Absorb the medium you’re trying to imitate.  For me, in this case, this meant watching a lot of cartoons.  I’ve been catching my brain up with the classics, such as The Smurfs, X-Men, The Total Misadventures of Ed Grimley, Doug, but so far I was the most impressed by The Smurfs.  It is super-formulaic, yet fun and endearing.  

Smurfing around.

STEP TWO – Analyze.  In this case, I am ANALYZING THE SMURFS.  Here’s what I came up with:

1. Each character has a strong personality, so strong it is basically a trope. i.e. being a know-it-all, hungry, sleepy, grumpy, tough guy, handy, cute, fatherly…
2. The heroes and villians are explicitly characterized as good vs evil.
3. “Smurf” is used as a very extensive form of speech. “I’m gonna have to Smurf this real good”, or “You really Smurfed that one up”.
4. They eat Smurfberries.
5. The plot:
a. Though most plots involve the evil guy and his cat (who he accidentally hurts) capturing the Smurfs, and the Smurfs escaping, occasionally…
b. the plotline goes in very unique and even mature directions. (“Mature” meaning only adults would understand the full meaning, such as Brainy becoming a monarch through cleverness, intimidation, and force; or Handy inventing a weather-altering machine.)
6. The characters are cute.
7. The blueness of the characters, as well as the occasional actual magic thrown in, creates a light air of magic to the show.

#1, #3, #4, and #5a – these create repetition, “Smurf” branding, and humor. Repetition creates predictability, which children love, and which also creates humor.
#2 – I find this a little annoying. I tend to prefer stories in which good and evil are more of a Ying-Yang, morally-relative spectrum. But the cleanly-defined good / evil convention does seem to be a very popular philosophical device across many great and popular works of art, however.
#5b – I enjoy the unique and mature directions, and it seems to slip under the radar and still fit within a kid-friendly show.

There you have it.  Those are some of the reasons why the Smurfs was such a classic Saturday Morning Cartoon show!

A real inspiration, should I someday create SHEEPLE: The Best Cartoon in the Ewe-niverse.

FREE GAMES from A Smith Games

These are fun, free games I’ve invented over the years. I simply have fun inventing games. Some of these game are really fun! And they can be played for free – all you need is a deck of 52 cards, dice, access to a pool table, some beach balls, etc.

SHEEPLE: The Best Game in the Ewe-niverse

If you’ve never played my game SHEEPLE: The Best Game in the Ewe-niverse before, check it out! It’s a really fun party game for all ages. It’s a great ice-breaker game, and playing this game can make you more creative! It’s the opposite of Scattergories, and it’s the Game of Life but with sheep! Ewe can pick it up on Amazon, too.

SHEEPLE: The Best Game in the Ewe-niverse. Start as a sheep. The first player to become a sheep-person wins. Can ewe think like a sheep? Wool-some fun for the wool family!

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