Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling Review
Two years ago, when I first heard about Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling, I thought the title made no sense. At all. Still, I rolled with it, got up bright and early to watch the special on Netflix. After watching it at least four times for this review, the meaning of the title hit me as I was driving home. It was referring to the notion of stubbornly clinging to the past in the face of change. Therein lies the message Joe Murray and the Rocko alumni were trying to give.
My first thought was “dang, that’s good! Murray’s still got it!” Here’s my review of Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling.
Future Shock in O-Town
After being stranded in space for twenty years, Rocko, Heffer, Filburt, and Spunky are finally able to return home. What they find is a futuristic O-Town they hardly recognize. While Heffer and Filburt whole-heartedly embrace this new O-Town, Rocko’s slow to accept a modern life. Everything hits the fan when the poor wallaby learns that his favorite show, The Fatheads, no longer runs on Tv.
While Rocko’s desperate to get the last link to his old life back, O-town goes through a crisis. An accounting error by Mr. Bighead pushes Conglom-O into bankruptcy, putting most of O-Town out of a job. The only way to save the day is for Rocko to find The Fatheads creator, Ralph Bighead, and get him to make another Fatheads cartoon.
The Need for Nostalgia
Right off the bat, Static Cling tries to establish its central theme about change through this comment from Rocko:
Isn’t it great how some things never change?
Despite spending twenty years in space with his dog and two friends (one of which won’t stop singing), Rocko’s content. He’s like one of those people who gets stranded for a long period of time and comes up enjoy the isolation. So when he gets back to Earth, he finds it hard to rejoin society.
What sends Rocko off the deep end, though, is the loss of The Fatheads. Considering how his only entertainment in space was a VHS tape of the show, I think it’s safe to assume that it was the only thing that kept him sane. It’s his lifeline.
Poking Fun at Fandom and Reboots
From the moment Rocko decides to get his show back, I saw him as channeling a satire of the modern-day super-Fan. From defending his show as a cultural icon to obsessively saying it’s all he has in his life, Rocko channels all the fervor of a fanboy. As a fan of many works of entertainment myself, I found this satirization to be accurate and hilarious.
What was even funnier, though, was how it addresses the unspoken truth behind reboots: making cash. As Mr Bighead points out, fans have actual power these days thanks to the Internet and Social Media. I still remember how Rick and Morty fans got McDonald’s to bring back their Szechuan sauce. When it comes to it, though, it’s about making money. Unless a company thinks there’s a big enough audience out there, they won’t risk bringing back an old property.
A reboot’s a tough balancing act that, when done wrong, will alienate the old fans. So after talking Conglom-O into rebooting The Fatheads, Rocko and friends go to find Ralph Bighead to help. They find him, but keeping with the specials theme on change, they find Ralph’s no longer Ralph. He’s now Rachel Bighead.
It’s Rachel Bighead
When I heard that a major character int even special was going to be transgender, it drove the point home. It would have been crazy to have a kids show with a transgender character in the 90s. Thanks to the growing acceptance of homosexuality and transgender, though, Murray’s free to get away with it.
Mr. Bighead takes some getting used to Rachel’s change, but he decides his daughter is what’s most important in the end. It’s a touching moment that happens just as The Fatheads special is being aired, with everyone reveling in the nostalgia. Rocko’s more stubborn though, as when The Fatheads cartoon isn’t the same as he knew it, he channels the negative fanboy in him.
The Whinds of Change
In the most important part of Static Cling, though, Ed Bighead sums up the moral of the story: if we keep living in the past all the time, we’ll miss out on the amazing stuff going on around us. It’s a touching reminder that I think a lot of fans can relate to.
In my years, I have seen many things I love come to an end, some before I was ready. Having a show end can be a bittersweet thing, but seeing a show you love get cancelled is the worst. So I get what Rocko’s going through! If you’ve read my blog lately, then you know I’m still not entirely over Game of Thrones or Star vs.! Maybe more so for the latter.
My point being, and I know this is gonna sound rich coming from me, is that Bighead’s, and Static Cling, are right. We can always be grateful for the things we experience and see in the past; they can be some of our best memories! That doesn’t mean that we should deride anything that’s new or changes on our lives. We need to stop clinging to the past like static, and embrace the here and now. Ultimately, that’s the lesson that Rocko finally learns.
A Reboot Done Right
So in the end, was Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling everything fans had hoped for? I can answer that with a resounding yes. It had all the humor and charm of the show wrapped into a story about modern life. It balances the fans need for nostalgia while understanding the need to move forward into the future. If you’re a fan of Joe Murray, or 90s Nicktoon’s, then you’ll want to watch this special again and again.
Then when you’re done, make sure to thank the one who made it all possible: Really Really Big Man and his power nipples!
I give Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling a 5/5. That was a hoot!
Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of watching TV, it’s that nothing’s gone for good. There’s that petition to bring Star back. Come to think of it, I think another classic Nicktoon’s coming back next we-
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