Author Topic: Analysis: Is Shannon a Bad Character  (Read 1977 times)

Offline Kartoonfanatic

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Analysis: Is Shannon a Bad Character
« on: December 01, 2014, 08:45:19 PM »
I already posted this topic on dA, but I wanted to hear some opinions here, too. =3

So…. I’m a bit of a Shannon advocate.  I admit it. Please don’t send raccoons to attack me.

I got the idea for writing this up when I read TV Tropes's RJ page, which basically blamed Shannon for a lot of the issues involved with this series... that kinda pushed me over the edge to finally understanding why this character turned so sour. Now, a lot of the fans of Robot Jones on deviantart, at least in recent years, have had strong feelings one way or the other for this character, but for a time a while ago, I remember the fanclub almost unanimously agreed that Shannon was... basically pure evil. =P Things have changed since then. I don't think the fanclub's views are that harsh anymore on their views of Shannon, but it did raise a legitimate question, and those who wanted to ship Robot with an original character, rather than the love interest the show gives, did have their reasons.

The question is: Is Shannon a bad character?

Or, another way to look at it, as Peter pointed out, is: Shannon an antagonist, or one of Robot’s friends, and if she’s not really Robot’s friends, why does she deserve to be a part of Robot’s posse in the opening them? Why isn’t she on the side with McMcMc and Madman or stuck at the arcade where we saw her?
My theory is that because she’s an important part of the story, her likability (yeah, I’m using that word) got ruined through the overstressing of Robot’s attempts to make her like him.

I’m going to try to do the most impossible thing and… humanize Shannon. Duh-duh-duh!

So, since it inspired me to do this review, I guess I should quote what it actually said that got me thinking:

“Shannon was somewhat friendly to Robot Jones in season 1, but started being outright mean to him in season 2.”

This in my mind brings up a possibility of flanderization. But is that really so simple the caseWhile I was going to consider that idea, I think at each individual episode, she’s not kind to Robot in every season 1 episode, and she isn’t mean spirited to him in every season 2 episode either—my results being that it can be either hit or miss, regardless of the episode order.

The problem with her is that she has a split personality disorder. She responds to Robot in 2, if not, 3 different ways throughout the entire series. Was she meant to be a good character who has some bad episodes, or is she just a tool for Robot to do whatever the story needs him to do. I’d have to pull apart all of her scenes just to be sure.

To explain, let’s look at each episode that features Shannon and her behavior, especially regarding Robot: I’m going to define her overall behavior in an episode under 1 of 3 terms: Genuine, meaning either kind or neutral, as the synopsis of the series classifies her being oblivious to Robot’s feelings, Phony, meaning that even though she gives attention and affection to Robot, there is something in that episode that indicates that she’s using him as a tool to get something she wants, and lastly, flat out Blind Hatred, though this only appears in one or two episodes. I’m especially interested in episodes where Shannon’s bad behavior is weakly attempted to be validated through Robot being as insufferable as ever, and in some cases, even attempting to imply that HIM the bad guy, (though this type of writing doesn’t quite show up until the last couple of episodes).

The very end of the Pilot, assumingly titled “Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?” is Shannon’s first appearance on the series. I find it interesting that while we have proto-versions of Socks, Mitch, Cubey, and even super-proto versions of Lenny Yogman appearing the background in the breakdown scene, Shannon’s voice and design are actually finished, even more so than Robot, who’s slight design details will continue to be tweaked through Electric Boogaloo. Even though she doesn’t have a name in this episode, as the rest of the proto-cast does not, it’s pretty clear that how she appeared in this episode was intended to carry out through the rest of the series, so considering her behavior in the pilot to be canon is reasonable. Her brief interaction with Robot here is, of course, neutral—considering its their first encounter. Even so, the way that she asks if he is OK and then tells him to take it easy, without slapping an insult like “freak” on the end of it as she walks away is pretty surprising if you look at this character as an outright bitch. I’m calling this one a Genuine episode, because she’s complete enough in this point in production for her ignorance in Robot’s crush to become exaggerated into hating him. It’s even hinted that she might have some idea about what’s going on with him as he starts to spazz out in front of her, but because he’s a robot and she doesn’t know any better, she dismisses the thought. That doesn’t make her a bitch yet, just ignorant---if the statement about her being oblivious to his crush is correct.

The next episode is “Electric Boogaloo”: A second sort of version of the pilot, or so Greg Miller had mentioned in one article online. I kinda want to believe that this is just the second day of Robot at school instead. If we were to erase everything that just happened in the pilot, and this was to be the first time Robot would walk into Polyneux, than a lot of things wouldn’t quite make sense. The already established character relationships set up between Robot and Madman and McMcMc in the pilot would suddenly become vanished, and it would make their behavior in the rest of the series seem kinda unexplained. Without the pilot, we wouldn’t know Madman’s reason to be wary of Robot, and we wouldn’t understand McMcMc’s particular hated of him, either. For those reasons, I want to believe that the pilot and “Electric Boogaloo” occurred back to back. Even so, that doesn’t save Shannon’s behavior in this episode. While she only appears briefly and with Pam, who might still be a stand-in nameless character at this point, that laugh doesn’t do much for her case. In her defense, though, the other kids were being pretty awful too, and it was actually Pam, not Shannon, who was the one who egged them all into taunting him. In fact, nobody seemed to even notice that Robot was there until Pam pointed and laughed at him. This and Gender really raise my questions about Pam’s possibility of being  yet another straight up antagonist to Robot.
Unfortunately, this is still a Blind Hatred episode, where Shannon pretty much blends in with the rest of the kids and gets caught up in their hazing. It’s not clear why she’s there to mock him at all—if they’re trying to stress the embarrassment of his new crush laughing at him with the other kids, I suppose that’s a reason. But this episode almost makes me think that Shannon’s relevance in the show was suddenly dropped in favor of Robot’s friends, Mitch and Cubey. Maybe they just thought it was the time to see them interact instead. And it still feels a little jarring that the Shannon who greeted him in the Pilot is the same one who’s laughing at him here. But this is still one of the most minor instances of her character going from hot to cold.

Shannon doesn’t even appear again until the 3rd episode, “Cube Wars”, and her behavior in this episode is suddenly genuine again. Granted that she does awkwardly push the cube on Robot in a way that seems a little mean, but she was pretty frustrated by the time he got there. In fact, this episode hints at a continuing troubling idea of Shannon being, as TV Tropes calls her, “book dumb.” And not “just some dumb kid” stupid, as someone in Recess might say, but shamefully, stereotypically, teenage girl stupid. Yet it might be worth pointing out that she seems to have trouble all along the same lines—math, unlocking her locker, figuring out the cube—things that don’t make her necessarily stupid, just not math smart. This was either done to make Robot’s excellence in all those areas more impressive—or, if this were real world context, you could consider the idea that she has dyslexia or perhaps another learning disorder, but there’s an incredibly slim chance that that’s the direction they were headed, so sadly, gotta assume they just meant for her to be of average or lower intelligence. Not a particularly hopeful sign for her character. However, there’s nothing particularly nasty about her behavior in this one, so I’ll call it a Genuine episode.

Shannon doesn’t appear again until part b of episode 4, “Embarrassment”, and of all episodes in the first season, this is where her appearance is pretty much the most important to the story flow of this episode—that Robot needs to work up the nerve to ask his crush to the dance—thank. God. There are many ways this episode could have ended badly. For as pessimistic as it gets for Robot, none of the bullcrap that he’s dealt  in this episode comes from the person who he actually cares about. For the first half of the episode, she is pretty patient and nice during ever encounter she and Robot have. She even later goes up to him and tries to engage him in a conversation—something she did not have to do. Mind you, she’s kinda blathering on with mindless excitement in this scene, but it’s the only time she will ever go out of her way to talk to him, even if it’s just for a moment. This gives you the impression that they’ve known each other for at least a little while, Shannon would have to know Robot’s behavior roughly well enough, and yet she doesn’t seem to act like talking him is going to ruin her social reputation forever--unlike how she acts in later episodes. Some people might call her a bitch for pointing out Robot’s gas attack right in the middle of the hallway and storming off, but really—it’s a fart that blows a hole in the wall. Assuming Robot actually had control over when it happened, which he doesn’t, but Shannon would obviously assume he does---it doesn’t seem to evil of her to bail at that point. And her positive behavior at the dance ends up being the sign that this is a Genuine Shannon episode. This is about as nice as she will ever get without demonstrating romantic feelings towards Robot, real or phony.

Shannon appears in both “Politics” and “Growth Spurts”, yet her behavior in both parts of this episode are somewhat different. “Politics” is pretty basic: She’s fine until Robot does a robot-like-thing and causes her to run away, much like any other student, but there’s nothing here about her behavior that feels overly harsh. She seems pretty neutral without being suspiciously affectionate to Robot, so it’s easily a Genuine.

(continued in part 2)


Offline Kartoonfanatic

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Re: Analysis: Is Shannon a Bad Character
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2014, 08:48:40 PM »
However, in “Growth Spurts”, she seems even less willing to validate Robot’s presence and his feelings, and sadly, this is the episode that introduces the “Shannon who calls Robot names” into the mix. It’s not that she’s on her worst behavior in this one, but she does border on being hypocritical with her jerky comments about him in the classroom, and then when her behavior does a 180 at the end of the basketball game. “Politics” and “Growth Spurts” seem to tread the line between oblivious Shannon who cares about Robot only when it makes her look good, and mindful, ordinary student Shannon who’s reaction to Robot’s spitting out a flier the length of his body and Robot’s borderline stalkerly behavior by her locker in a justifiably creeped out way. The only reason I’m going to call this a Genuine episode, and not much by any means, is because Robot’s behavior does creep out the whole school alongside Shannon, and because she has no clear alterior motivation for publically showing affection to Robot at the end of the basketball game, which leads me to assume that her excitement is probably honest. 

Sadly, that didn’t last to long. “Jealousy”, I’m afraid to say, is most certainly a Phony episode. I really wanted to savor that moment with RJ and Shannon in her living room because it’s suuuuuch a genuine moment, but it’s not good enough to justify her behavior throughout the entire episode. She’s very rude to him at the start of the episode, as if he’d done something to piss her off within a few days of this episode happening. But assuming Robot would never do something to intentionally make her angry, her irritation at him seems extremely out of the blue. Yes, she got an F on her test, that should make anyone a little angry, but if that’s the validation for her turning her anger on Robot for being Captain Obvious, then it’s a pretty pitiful excuse. And after the first study date, we get our first instance of Phony Shannon. Not only does she suddenly flip to ignoring Robot once Finkman comes around, but she even directs her anger at Robot,  yet again, when Finkman takes a hike. I could understand if the logic here is that Shannon thought Robot had somehow beaten up Finkman and made him leave, as the chanting of Socks, Mitch, and Cubey makes it sound. But Shannon is watching the same event from the window, and clearly, nothing of the sort is happening on the ground. Assuming the kids on the bus can’t hear what’s going on outside, Shannon should still see Robot making meaningless angry gestures at Finkman and seeing Finkman just fall back into his crate, like he was too bored to have lived for the past 2 minutes. So her little rant at the end at Robot doesn’t even make sense, let alone is validated. Shannon’s hatred at him at the end of this episode only serves as more fuel for Robot to stew on Finkman until he actually has a mental brakedown right in the middle of class the next day—which, true to a lot of Robot’s behavior, is JUSTIFIED.

And it only gets worse in “Scantron Love”. Not only here does Shannon’s phoniness really stand out from all the other episodes in the entire season, but she is spooned into this episode when she could just have easily been casually left out, like she was with Gender, or just given a dramatic attitude adjustment. What bothers me so much about this episode is the way that they weave her into the story. Yes, if Robot is technically flirting with the Scantron, the question is going to come up of how Shannon factors into that mess. Instead of giving Robot feelings for Scantron straight off of the bat, and perhaps having him have to confess to the Scantron that there’s always been another girl he’s liked, Shannon is so forced into the episode that her behavior mirrors the big hulking bully who slammed Cubey into a locker. Like in Electric Boogaloo, she ends up being just another member of the student body who conditionally hates Robot until he does something good for them, and then demands that that service continues. Life really stinks, and as realistic as the peer pressure in this episode is, it’s a shame that it reduces Shannon’s character to dust. It’s a Phony Shannon episode, even worst than the last.

The next episode that should have some sort of relevance about Shannon should be Gender, but since she’s basically missing from this episode, there isn’t much to say. I’m doing a separate review of that episode anyway.

Shannon doesn’t appear again until the episode “Hair”, and her purpose in this episode is a little weak, but to be fair, so is the basic premise of the episode. Robot doesn’t have hair, and the only reason it interests him now is realizing that hair makes him look more appealing to girls. I was going to call this a Shannon Phony episode, but because she doesn’t even try to fake being nice to Robot during any point in this, it’s a Shannon Blind Hatred episode. She doesn’t even try to fake being nice to him in this episode. She outright screams in his ear for trying to help her out, and then gets annoyed at him for creeping her out in the hallway after he though he’d figured out how to give himself hair. There is absolutely no validation for her behavior here, it is. Just. Bad. The only parts of this episode where she doesn’t piss me off are the very, very, slight second moments where she seemed pleased to have her locker opened, and when she almost looked more concerned than creeped out by his experiment with the hair. That instant gave a hint that they were friends, but what was the reasoning behind her storming off so angry like that?

When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it turns out that the next episode featuring Shannon turned out to be “Garage Band”. She’s only in the last one third of the episode, and nowhere in that timeframe is she being manipulative or mean spirited. Every word that comes out of her mouth in that exchange between her and Robot is genuine and meaningful. I’ll even pardon the “Are you a piano geek?” comment, because that affectionate smile she gives at the end after he dashed off could be considered a hint that true feelings about Robot aren’t that bad. This is the first episode that gives the slightest impression that maybe that the way she treats Robot in public is a cover up to protect how she really feels about him. However, there isn’t too much ground for this theory to stand on, sadly. Still, this is absolutely a Genuine episode nevertheless.

Between this episode and “House Party”, we’ve finally hit the second relief of Shannon in good behavior episodes. Boy, do I love this episode—not just because it’s one of Robot’s best and an interesting episode looking at Grampz and analyzing their relationship, but it’s the peak of Robot and Shannon’s relationship, too. It’s going to fall apart from this point onward, so enjoy it while you can. This episode doesn’t have Robot breaking his neck to get Shannon to like him, and the ironic part of that is that this is the episode where she seems to be the nicest to him. Though the start of the episode she shakes him and the other boys off with her posse of two other girls, she ends up being more of just a follower to the nameless girl in the black top in the middle. Later, when she shows up for the party, she’s clearly embarrassed by Robot’s little air guitar flirting, but she doesn’t blow it out of proportion or call him a geek and walk away. She even stays with him and agrees to sit down with him and talk—
MIND YOU, THIS IS EXTREMELY UNLIKE THE SHANNON WE’VE SEEN IN NEARLY EVERY EPISODE UP TO THIS POINT, SO WHAT TAKES PLACE HER MIGHT BE KIND OF IMPORTANT.
And what goes on is that RJ attempts to make her more comfortable—by cutting her braces off. Wait, shouldn’t she be mad about that? Isn’t she going to get, like, grief from her parents about how her braces are ruined? She seemed pretty concerned about getting in trouble by her parents in previous episodes. All that seems to matter to her is that it did relieve her of some discomfort. Whether that’s supposed to equate to flirting on Robot’s part—by messing with the metal he finds attractive about her, or to get closer to her mouth-- I may never understand. Anyway, she reacts to this, perhaps a little overexcitedly, and then starts saying things that are pretty much the exact opposite of her rant at the end of Jealousy. Saying things like “I never knew we had so much in common,”—wait, what? Since when did they have anything in common? I guess she’s referring to his sympathy for her discomfort and awkwardness, or maybe even because they share a favorite song (Garage Band), and “I feel like I could talk to you,”—I guess because Robot is a good listener, at least in Embarrassment when she was babbling to him nonstop. And then she says she has a secret to tell him, a deep dark secret—and the awful part is that, if this line was foreshadowing a secret we were supposed to learn about Shannon in the future, we’re never going to know what that was now. At the least, it could have gave credit to her character, or maybe made her less of a one-dimensional character. Though considering she was going to tell Robot and that she was going to tell him right then and there, it is possible that A) She has some amount of secret feelings for him (sounds like a twist that would happen in a kid’s show anyway), or B) she just wanted to get him closer to give him a kiss, which is just an empty flirting device, but it means the same thing as A).
I used to have very mixed feelings about this episode, because her behavior here is so different from any other episode that I was sure THIS was the biggest instance of her being a phony. But looking at this episode on its own, there’s nothing else in this episode to indicate that Shannon was using Robot for her own gains. Yeah, sure, she runs away when Grampz goes after her with the claw—wouldn’t you run if a giant metal claw was gonna crush you to death? It’s sure not worth experiencing your first kiss for that. Overall, this is the most Genuine Shannon’s ever come through this entire season. She doesn’t have any ulterior motive to behave in this episode in a way that is kinder to Robot, especially when they’re alone, and so her dialog to him can be considered her true feelings.

(continued in part 3)

Offline Kartoonfanatic

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Re: Analysis: Is Shannon a Bad Character
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2014, 08:51:13 PM »
After that we have “School Newspaper”, in which Shannon also shares a part, though not a big one. They managed to work her into the story somehow, but for once, her status as Robot’s love interest becomes of second importance to her being one of Robot’s closest friends. That’s right. Robot even acknowledges her in his circle of “friends” that he would not “use for personal gain.” That means she’s finally reached the status that we see her represented in the opening theme: close enough to be considered a friend, but still with his crush intact. Though oddly, Shannon refers to Robot during the height of his popularity in such a dreamy way that makes it seem like she’d never met the guy, and only knew him through name. And if you notice, they do a close up of Pam rolling her eyes, as if even she’s confused about Shannon’s hot and cold attitude flips. She’s not particularly mean to Robot in this episode, at least not unless you count the “is there no level to which you won’t stoop” line, (which is confusing anyway because why does Robot washing his feet in the water fountain embarrass Shannon whatsoever?), but I understand the 11 minute time limit, they had to crank these things out fast. But, overall, nothing about her reaction feels invalidated. She thinks he did a bad thing and she’s reacting with what she thinks is photo evidence, so aside from being a victim of stupid gossip, she didn’t do anything wrong. This is a Genuine Shannon episode, another one, like “Embarrassment”, that shows that she CAN have her unsavory moments with Robot without treating him like dirt.

The next episode is “Safety Patrol”, and her role in this episode is even smaller. We get to see her exchange words with Cubey, which is cool I guess if you wanted to know that those characters actually do know each other exists, but not much else. While she doesn’t interact with Robot here, she does talk to Cubey, and for what it’s worth, all she did was warn Cubey for cutting in line that he would get in trouble, when she could have easily made a comment about him stealing her spot in the lunch line (not that it really matters but I guess in a cartoon kids would normally throw a massive stink fit about it). A Genuine episode.

Shannon also appears in the b part of this episode, “Popularity”, though like “Safety Patrol”, her part is pretty minor. There isn’t much to say about her behavior here, either, because there’s not much screen time to call her out on any sort of hypocrisy. She plays the strangely suddenly affectionate Shannon here, and while she clearly has been tricked by the phony Robot Jones, so had the rest of the school, and she ends up giving the real Robot Jones the kiss anyway. Now, this is a tricky episode to grade because her positive behavior around Robot is implied to be a reaction to the fake Robot Jones double that RJ had created to take his place the previous day of school. But there feels something wrong with the idea that Robot had been chasing to get Shannon to even just acknowledge his existence throughout most of this entire season, and that the Robot Jones double is able to do the exact same thing, within a single day, even convincing Shannon to ask him on a date (I’m guessing it was Shannon who actually asked the Robot Jones double on the date, seeing as the RJ double can literally only say the word ‘Zombies’, as far as we know). I’m calling this a Phony Shannon episode, because unlike at the end of Growth Spurts, where she had no real reason to suddenly be nicer to Robot now that he was popular but to perhaps just be seen with him, there’s a shady feeling that I get when I think that Shannon would rather spend her time talking to a brainless, remote controlled Robot Jones double than the actual boy who has spent so much of his time an effort to please her. What this implies is that the very nice qualities Robot has to offer, say, kindness and thoughtfulness, and intelligent conversation, are not the qualities that Shannon finds attractive in him. Rather, if you listen to his data log, he lists catchphrases, bizarre toilet paper throwing which, I guess, is supposed to equate to dance moves (?) and being really stupid and one dimensional as the traits that will apparently make you popular with the majority of your peers, including the girl who, should know by being your friend for so long, that you act nothing like that. This is another episode that is blatantly honest about the subject matter in its title, and it’s another episode that pulls Shannon in the direction of being more like just another member of the student body than being Robot’s friend. (Though it’s worth noting that, for some odd reason, the RJ double takes on a sentient life of its own once Robot actually leaves the school, which I suppose it would HAVE to in order to continue to act like Robot during the day that he attends the convention. But it seems kinda creepy the way that Robot had been controlling it at the beginning. So, is the Robot-Double controlled by remote AND partially to its own artificial intelligence, and if so, does it talk, and what kind of moves did it actually pull on Shannon to get her to fall head over heels for him in one day, along with the rest of the kids? Or is the implication that a stand-in version of Robot who says literally nothing other than ‘Zombies’ over and over again somehow less annoying than the real Robot Jones? Maybe after “Safety Patrol”, he got a reputation for being a tyrant on the same level of Madman, but that still doesn’t explain what the RJ double did that Robot didn’t do. It’s to assume, then, that it’s not what the RJ double DID, but what it DIDN’T do that the kids liked about it more than Robot. Meaning that Robot is either excessively annoying, which is starting to break character, or that for all the time that has passed, none of the kids really know him that well. There are a lot of frustrating ideas to be taken from this episode…

It’s my regret to say that we’re reached the last two episodes of the series, and though both of them do anchor on Shannon pretty heavily storywise, they are the worst examples of her character. If you’re a die hard fan of the series, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If it was by some weird coincidence that the frustration of watching her made this show officially too irritating to watch any longer, than it’s not surprising that the series was ended when it did—but it was in fact due to be cancelled way back at the start of season 2’s broadcast, so it’s almost a good thing, that the series was cut off right there—if only for her case. If they were to continue down the road that they were doing with her character, then they might as well have started to call Shannon an antagonist of the series right here and now, because there is nothing slightly redeemable about her character in either of these segments, and she’s officially lost even the slightest gratitude and affection for Robot and what he does for her.

Let’s pull apart each segment separately. Her purpose in “Summar Camp” is pretty much as forced as it was in “Hair” and a few others. Robot only agrees to ditch the massive amount of arcade tokens he invested in and head with Socks to Summer Camp at the slightest chance that he might run into Shannon while he’s there. I always considered this a kind of cute moment where RJ loses the game he was fervently trying to beat, and then later when he sees Shannon at the camp grounds and goes through a sort of spazz moment, kinda like a call back to the Pilot, I suppose you could say. But even saying that is a big stretch. After this point, there is nothing cute or hopeful about their interaction like that was given off at the end of the Pilot. When Robot turns up the volume on his voice and starts shouting the camp song, it’s Shannon that ends up telling him to shut up, and she does this in a tone that is reminiscent of the beginning of Jealousy, where she seems annoyed with the fact that she has to acknowledge his very existence, as if Robot had just done something pretty awful to her within the previous five minutes that were not shown onscreen. But the issue here is that, unlike the opening of Jealousy, they attempt to make Robot so over-the-top annoying in this scene, even for the audience to listen to, that you’re not supposed to notice Shannon’s behavior as being harsh. This theme carries out through pretty much the rest of the episode, where Robot is technically not doing anything wrong, but his behavior, his persistence, the fact that he somehow gets Shannon mauled by a freaking raccoon due to his presence, and then still tries to offer up the flower as if he’s completely oblivious to the fact that SHE JUST GOT MAULLED BY A RACCOON, makes it very hard not to at least sympathize with Shannon, and to almost see Robot as the antagonist. It’s his fault that all of these really irritating things happen to Shannon, and somehow she manages to keep her mouth shut up until the hiking scene right before the climax. But oh man, when she delivers that rant, does it feel mean spirited. The fact that she waited up until she and Robot were having a quiet moment on that hike to let her frustration out makes it seem all the more worse than it really is. If she had decided to let her rant at ANY other time before then, even on the night of the water balloon raid on the girl’s cabin, then it would have made more sense. Not saying that it would have been justified on the night of the water balloon fight—since Robot was clearly not doing anything wrong, and even Consoler Swartz seems blind to that fact, but it would have looked better for Shannon.

(continued in part 4)

Offline Kartoonfanatic

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Re: Analysis: Is Shannon a Bad Character
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2014, 08:53:02 PM »
Yeah, I realize her rant probably only took place happened on the hike so that Robot could let go of Shannon’s hand, and her getting stuck would lead to the climax where he has to go and save her from the bear (which was completely random and stands at the biggest WTF just happened moment in the series), but even so, there’s no reason for that chase seen to have happened. Even if Robot demonstrated his “outdoor skills” by rescuing Shannon, she was completely oblivious to the fact that Robot, basically, just saved her life, let alone the idea of her being impressed by it feel flat on its face. She is completely unmoved by any of what just happened, as if she’d shut off her brain during the entire ordeal. And yet she has the nerve to complain about Robot having gotten mud on her shirt, when she clearly never touched the ground—there is… just nothing redeemable about that kind of response. Even though the episode had made her the victim up to this point, if Robot had decided to drop Shannon into that pond of water and leave her there as he stormed off, you wouldn’t have been able to blame him! Her nearly drowning and ending up soaking wet due to Robot’s incompetence ended up being more a work of karma for her nastiness then a sympathietic misunderstanding on Robot’s part. And we only end up feeling bad for Robot—perhaps for the first time in this entire episode, than we should feel for both of them for having such a strong communication issue.
At first, I’d really felt strongly this deserved to be called a Blind Hatred episode, but the one thing that pulls me in the direction of the Phony is the time that she delivered that rant. She clearly did not want to let it go right in front of all of the girls in the consoler back at the cabin the night before, and for that reason, she’s either hiding what a hateful and ungrateful person she is—or, if you read into her blushing every time Robot gives her affection as that she’s unwilling to admit she has feelings for him back, then she’s in severely in denial about Robot’s crush and refuses to acknowledge the idea by discussing it with him, and her sending him away without explaining how she’s feeling is still very cold and mean, at least it does in the context of that scene.

The last episode is “Rules of Dating”, and if there was little room to feel bad for Shannon in “Summer Camp”, then there is no room to feel anything bad for her in this one. This episode makes the Shannon portrayed in Jealousy nearly look tame. She turns all but evil in this episode, and of all of the episodes where her reasoning of being, oh, annoyed by Robot’s persistence is almost a legitimate excuse (which in most cases is only a half formed excuse, like in “Summer Camp”), there is no given reason for why she acts this way. She is bothered by Robot’s persistence in being close to her, but unlike in “Summer Camp” where Robot’s actions at least kinda made you feel bad for Shannon (keeping in mind that the plot should NEVER imply that Robot is the antagonist in the first place!), Robot isn’t doing a single thing to deserve this treatment. He literally walks in her direction and she starts whining about it. It’s so bizarre to think of this character as the same one who considered him a friend in an episode like “Embarrassment”, or even made honest advances towards him in “House Party”.
If her behavior in this episode is meant to be an analogy of the audience getting tired of the episode set up itself—where Robot tries to hook up with Shannon, a story set up that has been the foundation of over half of the episodes in the entire short lived series--then it is a pretty bitter way to end the series, especially if you consider the ending message, which doesn’t add even the slightest hope that Robot’s efforts of winning Shannon over are EVER going to work. This episode is the shining example of Phony Shannon, checking off everything that went wrong with this character—she avoids Robot, when she had no issue with him in previous episodes until he actually did something to frighten her or gross her out. Not to mention the fact that this is the only episode where she repeatedly calls him a dork before he even gets the opportunity to do anything that would even slightly justify it, at least within the strict confines of that episode. And like “Summer Camp”, why this episode checks off as Phony and not Blind Hatred is the way that she treats Robot when she knows others are watching, compared to the way that she talks to him when they’re alone. Her reaction to McMcMc’s suggestion that Robot would become her study partner is kind of odd, and it happens again when her mother suggests that she takes Robot to the party, as a sort of unofficial date. Is it that Shannon is afraid to let her annoyance with Robot show in front of adults, like she’d get in trouble for shouting in front of them that she doesn’t want him around, or is it that she, again, doesn’t want to entertain the idea of Robot being an actual guy she might or might not want to date.
But what really gets me about this episode is the ending rant that Shannon gives to Robot. It’s not anything like the little conclusive dismissals she’d done in all of the previous episodes. No, she is going in a full on rant at the end of this episode, and for what reason? Because it had to be Robot who wound up in a closet with her? Because Robot is annoying? Because Robot isn’t human? Because Robot is a c**k block? WHAT is the justification here?
The irony is that getting close to Shannon wasn’t even the reason why he walked into that closet in the first place. He was actually kind of oblivious to the game going on. Between Shannon having walked away from him at the party, he seems to have either forgotten her or got fed up with trying to get close to her at that point in time. So if Shannon is blowing up about him for being so persistently close to him, not only is it a major break down in communication, but of all of the times Robot has made advances towards her, her reaction has never been more unwarranted.
See, my biggest issue with this episode is how they tackled the ending. They could have had Robot self-destruct and still ruin the party, even while getting his first lip-to…. Um… robot-lip kiss (?). This scene did not require Shannon to hammer the nail in her own coffin. They actually could have saved her character.
Say the scene had gone like this: Shannon and Robot both wind up in the closet. Now unlike the last scene where they wound up in the closet, Shannon does get testy with Robot, and she starts the rant, but Robot apologizes for giving Shannon so much grief, (even though he STILL didn’t do anything wrong, but to help move the plot along). Robot finally explains the Robots’ Code of Conduct, and Shannon realizes at last what Robot had been talking about all throughout the episode. She feels silly, and to make it up for him, she gives him the kiss that they didn’t get to have in “House Party.” Robot becomes so excited that his systems start to overheat, his gages run too fast, and he thinks he’s suffering a malfunction. Shannon asks what’s going on, but before he can answer, he goes into self-destruct mode. Shannon runs out of the closet, reasonably afraid, and tells everyone to run for it, leaving Robot alone in the closet to explode.
Or, to save time: Have Shannon walk into the closet having no idea that Robot is there, and have her just kiss him in the dark. Only when the kiss happens does Robot’s systems overreact to his excitement, he goes into self-destruct mode, Shannon runs for it, and same result.
These are just two ways the episode could have ended in the exact same way, but with a more satisfying feeling as the ending of the series, AND without having that awfully frustrating aspect of knowing that Shannon character is pretty much irredeemable at this point.
The whole episode feels like a call back to Jealousy, but it’s even harder to watch, because Robot doesn’t even get a chance to be angry. He only seems depressed in this episode when his attempts don’t work, and unlike Jealousy, where his anger was directed at more or less the correct person, that Robot is incapable of feeling angry at Shannon in the slightest is what makes it so easy to write her off as the biggest villain of the series—or so a lot of the fans have thought.
I am looking really hard for moments that pay the slightest bit of continuity in these last 2 episodes, because as you’ll see with “Rules of Dating”, they seem to make a trip-and-fall attempt at bringing everything full-circle, but Shannon’s behavior kinda ruins it. The reality of the situation is, besides the silent phone call, Robot doesn’t do anything in the SLIGHTEST to warrant Shannon treating him this cruelly. Again, if the logic is that she’s so tried of his antics from other episodes, it’s still not an excuse for her to throw every possible insult at him, whether it is to his face or behind his back, when all he’s trying to do here is help her out. Assuming Shannon still doesn’t know Robot has a crush on her, her behavior to him is really bad—is this how she treats her friends who don’t treat her like garbage? Is this how she responds to someone being nice to her? If so, that’s a frightening sign of the kind of guys she’s going to end up being with later on in life. But I suppose the same could be said for Robot. He takes the neglect and even the abuse and doesn’t seem to care. Like Shannon in the episode “Hair”, she doesn’t care that a boy will pretty much be oblivious to her existence as long as she can still stare at him and dream about what they COULD have together. That is pretty much how Robot sees Shannon in half of these episodes that involve her. In a strange way, that’s one thing that Robot and Shannon have in common. Aside from being awkward, they’re both damaged, no pun intended, in the unhealthy ways that they perceive relationships. Granted, their both young, and if this were taking place in the real world, they’d both probably mature as they got older and discovered new values in what they like about other people.
I’m not excusing Shannon’s behavior by pointing this out, but I think she and Robot could benefit from teaching each other what really matters in love, and that would have been an interesting direction for that part of the series involving these two, had the series not ended so young.

(continued in part 5)

Offline Kartoonfanatic

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Re: Analysis: Is Shannon a Bad Character
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2014, 08:53:44 PM »
It's odd how a series that ran as short as RJ could have flanderization, but it's the only way I can describe what happened to Shannon throughout this show. She's just not the same character from episode to episode, not consistently cruel or kind either way. Rather than just letting it pass with the excuse that she’s the stereotypical moody teenage girl, I think the problem was indecisiveness as to how Shannon should actually feel about Robot: if it was going to be revealed that Shannon secretly liked Robot all along at some point far down the road, then it didn’t make sense to have her fawn over him because that would be too obvious, so they might have thought making her moody, mean and rude would make that less apparent. However, with just that behavior comes an extremely unlikable character that is impossible to see why Robot would deal with her after so much time has passed. And an unlikable character is going to lose ratings, so they had to be very hot and cold about her moods.

If you think I got any of these episodes wrong, or maybe I misread a detail and read into an episode wrong, I’d like to hear your thoughts. This is largely opinion based. Thanks for sticking through to read through this, I’m sorry if the large text wall was a pain to read. ^^;