Invader ZIM, for the lamens, is a show that used to air on Nickelodeon back in 2001. The title character, Zim, is a member of the Irken Empire: a galactic empire so expansive, they conquer entire planets just to turn them into parking garages and fast food restaurants. Operation: Impending Doom II is their latest campaign of conquest… But rather than include Zim, the proverbial village idiot, they instead send him in the exact opposite direction of the invasion fleet, and give him a defective helper droid to further the illusion that he’s helping. They originally think they’re sending him directly into a sun, but he actually ends up on Earth, and begins the process detailed in Operation: Impending Doom II. Shinanigans ensue. Particularly when you take into account Dib: an earthling whose fondness for conspiracy theories has made him the laughing stock of society.
Invader ZIM was a show I didn’t really get to see when it was new. I’m not even all that sure why, for that matter. My only theory is by 2001, I was a Cartoon Network guy. It wasn’t until the launch of Nicktoons TV: a sister network of Nickelodeon’s, and a dumping ground for all their old cartoons… At first. Nowadays, it’s basically “the other Nickelodeon”. But I digress.
It wasn’t till Nicktoons TV came into existence when I started watching Invader ZIM. I got to say, I’m legitimately surprised this show even made it on to Nickelodeon in the first place. This show is fucking dark!
True, Nicktoons got away with adult innuendo in the past. I could point you to several episodes of Rocko’s Modern Life, or Ren and Stimpy, for example. Invader ZIM does have its share of innuendo jokes. IE, Dib insisting no human has a “squeetilyspooch” (don’t quote me on the spelling of that), only for his little sister to say “I have a squeetilyspooch”. Subtle, by the way.
However, there’s adult innuendo, and then there’s just outright dark. And the darkest a nicktoon ever got prior to Invader ZIM, according to my memory, was that episode of Ren and Stimpy featuring “Eggyokio”. Trust me, it takes a lot to get ME disturbed, but that episode did it.
So yeah, Invader ZIM set a benchmark for just how much you could get away with in a cartoon I’m pretty sure was supposed to be for kids. I wasn’t really disturbed by any episodes or anything like that, but there were several times I watched this show, and the first thought in my head was “you sure this is for kids?”.
Of course I say that, knowing full well that there was a time I could relate to Zim. Much like him, I was a dumb, neurotic little thirteen-year-old doing his best to fit in with a bunch of taller assholes who literally wanted nothing to do with me. The difference being that in my experience, they weren’t even subtle about it. I was just an idiot, trying his best to fit into a society that SOMEHOW managed to be even stupider than I was. In the case of Invader ZIM, it was a society that chose its leadership based on who the tallest of the Irkens was, and that’s it. In middle and high school culture, it’s more about coolness, but coolness, in the grand scheme, might as well be based on tallness. It’s equally absurd.
Dib, weirdly enough, was also someone I could relate to. I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories, but if you replace CONSPIRACY THEORIES with PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, then yeah, I was Dib, too. Dib is such an unpopular, hated, and overall unwanted individual that the entirety of his class will sit on one side of the bus in order to avoid sitting on the same side as Dib. I never had a sister, but I imagine if I did, she’d probably be just as annoyed with me as Gaz is with Dib.
And can I just say, who fucking named these kids!? Dib? Gaz?
There’s a lot going for this show… Unfortunately, there’s a lot going AGAINST it as well. Specifically, this show was largely responsible for the “random = funny” mentality injected into everyone’s brain. If it wasn’t ZIM, it was probably Family Guy, but I noticed more of this from the ZIM fanbase. Sometimes, it worked. IE, filling ZIM’s defective robot with random clutter instead of traditional S.I.R. chips that resulted in it becoming GIR. Other times, it just left me wondering what the joke was. IE, one episode where ZIM decided to call his masters while wearing a bearsuit. Um, why? What was the point of the bear suit? Other than “OMG, LAWL! SO RANDOM!”, obviously.
Invader ZIM wasn’t the worst of it… But it was definitely a victim of its time in that regard. And really, nobody is immune to the threat of becoming dated. IE, the book After On made references to backpages.com and the “casual encounters” section of Craigslist, only for said section of Craigslist to get shut down, and Backpages.com to get seized by the United States government and its CEO sentenced to, like, twenty years or something for sex trafficking a year after it was published. So yeah, it happens to the best of us. I suspect my own writing will probably show its age one day, assuming it hasn’t already.
ZIM lasted a couple years, and while the reruns get pulled up every now and then, it mostly remains as is. As it should, honestly. It had a good run, and it’s remembered fondly today by its little community of fans. Fans who have a tendency to get on my fucking nerves, but fans all the same.
Unfortunately, we’re living in the 2010s. And one thing about the 2010s I’ve learned is that nothing, and I mean NOTHING, knows how to stay dead. Enter this:
Yip, sixteen years after most normal people have moved on to greener pastures, they decided to bring it back. Because somebody higher up was popping memberberries one day, and said “Hey, I memba Invada ZIM! I loved that shit!”.
Yes, I know it’s a made for TV movie. I haven’t heard anything beyond the fact this is going to be a thing, so for all I know, this is probably the one and only thing that’ll come of it.
More likely, I suspect that this will be the beginning of something bigger. Nickelodeon had already announced they were thinking pretty hard about resurrecting Rocko’s Modern Life from the dead. Because lord knows SOMEBODY was asking for it. I’d heard they were thinking about the same for Ren and Stimpy, but I never heard one way or the other if they were actually going to go through with that. Really, considering how much grief that show gave the network, I’m surprised by that, but I guess if my generation are the adults now, and my generation isn’t up its own ass with sanctimonious conservative parent signaling… I’m getting off topic. Basically, resurrecting Invader ZIM from the dead is a thing I’m sure is about to happen.
I really would’ve thought people have learned their lesson about resurrecting properties from the dead by now. It didn’t work out for Family Guy, it didn’t work out for Robocop, it didn’t work out for Karate Kid, it DEFINITELY didn’t work out with Ghostbusters (gender swopping the cast probably didn’t help any, either), It’s not working out for Transformers, it’s apparently not working out for Command and Conquer… You get the idea.
Basically, the whole reboot fad, memberberry culture, Generation: Nostalgia, or whatever the fuck you want to call it, isn’t working out. You want to know why everything seems so blique, unappealing, and why so many people just aren’t as enthusiastic about life? I’m sure things like the opioid epidemic, Twitter consuming our lives (he says knowing full well he has one now), a generation of war in Afghanistan, and having a dipshit like Donald fucking Trump as our president constantly embarrassing this country at every turn while everybody on the opposite side devours the neoliberal agenda of banging the war drum for a conflict with Russia are primary causes. However, another bulletpoint to add to that list is that there’s nothing new to sink my teeth into. Everything that was around when I was a kid is around as an adult. There’s nothing new to experience, because everybody thinks I want to watch the same old shit over and over again. Well if I wanted THAT, I’d just buy the DVD boxset of the old shit! I don’t want to see a show from 2001 in 2018 try to adapt to the times. especially the way things are now, they’ll probably PC the shit out of it. Or they’ll make the Irkens an allegory for the Trump administration. Because fucking EVERYTHING is an allegory for the Trump administration now.
Will the movie suck? Probably not. I don’t have cable anymore, so odds are I won’t even see it until someone like Mars Reviews or The Mysterious Mr. Enter reviews it, or someone uploads it to YouTube in its entirety. Of course, the latter implies I even WANT to look it up in the first place.
I feel like I go on this rant every other month anymore. Not so much about Invader ZIM, but with the whole Generation: Nostalgia thing.