Adult Swim

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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Collins discusses the concept of subjectivity. He points out that television viewers are individual subjects neither completely programmed by what they are watching, nor completely free to choose as self determined individuals. Postmodernism develops a new theory of the subject. Which suggests that the subject cannot be characterized by unity or fixed within Ideology. Nor can the subject be on the other extreme as a free agent unfettered and uninfluenced by Ideology. Rather, the subject is considered a product of a number of differing, competing, or contradictory subject positions. The argument considers that we are an intersection of conflicting subject positions. Constructed by a variety of discourses. The subject is acted upon, but also acting upon the texts they observe. Subjects involve a various range of Ideological ideas that can contradict, intertwine, to decipher the Postmodernism that exists within television. In regards to the text, "Sealab 2021" exposes social conflict in terms of sexual tension, race relations, and generalizations.

Set on the ocean floor, "Sealab" is a self-contained biosphere-an isolated cross-section of society. The show represents a society, which is a reflection of the underneath the sea. The different meanings revealed in "Sealab" point to numerous subject positions.

As the title suggests "Sealab 2021" is set a year later when all the good intentions of studying the undersea ecology has given way to cabin fever and reckless, insane behavior. As a microcosm of our postmodern culture, "Sealab" has become a show about sarcasm and cynicism, where the incompetent are empowered and selfishness is the rule. This is a sad commentary on how far we have fallen from the noble ideals of the flower children to the aloof behavior and childishness of "Seinfeld" culture.

Bricolage represents the appropriation and combination of different cultural elements to create a new form. Appropriation is when the original sign/signifier takes on a new meaning/signified in its new context, where it is combined with other signs. Bricolage refers to the process of adapting and juxtaposing old and new texts, images, ideas or narratives to produce whole new meanings. There are multiple ways for the subject to understand the new meanings produced through Bricolage. Subcultures appropriate particular styles to assert opposition, and "textual poaching" by fans.

Eclecticism methods involve selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles producing infinite programming variations. This operates on a technological/institutional level; television has been institutionalized by cable and recoding ability. Which implies that meanings, genres, schedules can become unfixed. We can appreciate the profound changes in the relationship of reception and production in postmodern cultures. Postmodern society is a society built on instantaneity, everything is here and now, there is no time to stop and smell the roses.

Originally produced by Hanna-Barbera in 1972, and distributed by NBC, "Sealab 2020" offered an optimistic view of the future of humanity. The post 60's peace movement perspective involved a multiethnic society free of ageism and sexism-in short, a utopia. The updated version on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim was first released in 2000 using all original footage and with intense re-editing, new dialogue and storylines. The combination of old footage, twisted with new characteristics from different cultures, and filled with various signs produces a new form of "Sealab," as illustrated by the following excerpts: "Oh, you mean 'black' Debbie,"… "I thought Dr. Quinn was just a nickname, like Dr. Dre,"… "Hey Debbie, get down here. Hesh want some sex!,"… " I call this the 'Latinator.'"