“You can’t fight city hall, you can’t fight corporate America. They are big and we are small. You can’t fight city hall.”
Those are lyrics from a very special musical episode of Rocko’s Modern Life. I typed them by memory – around twenty years after their original airing – and even though I don’t specifically credit those 22 minutes for the B.F.A. in musical theatre I eventually earned, I’m also certain that the time I spent watching Rocko’s Modern Life (and Rugrats and Aaahh!!! Real Monsters and All That and…the list goes on) influenced my path in life.
That path eventually led me to the Social and Connected Content team at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio. And as we approach the 25th anniversary of the very first Nicktoon, The Ren & Stimpy Show, I can’t help but reflect on the impact these shows had on me as a kid. I’m not the only one, either. Without these endlessly inventive shows, many of us at the studio wouldn’t be working in animation today, helping to create a new crop of Nicktoons – shows like Sanjay and Craig, Breadwinners, Harvey Beaks and Pig Goat Banana Cricket (our newest) – which will hopefully inspire a whole new generation of artists, writers and creators.
With that in mind, we want to take an active role in the development of these next gen creators. That’s why we partnered with Get Schooled to create the What’s Your Nickfluence? Animation Challenge, a global contest that challenges young animators to create shorts based on the ways in which Nickelodeon has influenced them. In partnership with Get Schooled, Adobe and Wacom, we’re asking high school and college students to animate their wildest dreams while reflecting on their biggest childhood inspirations – the exact same thing that Nickelodeon inspired us at the studio to do so many years ago.
Since the contest went live on July 20, the rewards have already far surpassed the blood, sweat, tears and endless legal revisions that went into its creation. I never imagined I’d see teenagers tweeting out such amazing storyboards and character designs in preparation for the challenge. They definitely have their sights set on the prizes at the end of the rainbow – a $25,000 scholarship from Get Schooled or Cintiq tablets from Wacom with Adobe Creative Cloud subscriptions. Their enjoyment of the creative process is incredible to watch.
It’s no secret that the cultural landscape is vastly different than it was when Nicktoons debuted almost 25 years ago. And yet as the Nickfluence Challenge has already shown, our work still has the power to inspire and motivate young people. In fact, that’s the true power in any media: to push and encourage and stretch and change.
It may not be as powerful as city hall, but it’s darn close.
For more information or to register and submit your own Nickfluence short, visit www.nickfluence.com.