WORDS Grant Runyon
ILLUSTRATION Will Bertram
In 2011 many former children were overjoyed when TV bigwigs took the bold decision to reboot My Little Pony. Not only because they had fond memories of the original from the 1980s, but because it followed the modern trend of making kids’ entertainment that grownups can also get into. Like a weirder version of those adults who can somehow tolerate the Minions, for MLP the audience for the new show is split between a core audience of small children and a sizeable fandom of sweaty males in their twenties and upwards.
They call these scraggly-bearded oddballs “Bronies” and, thanks in part to their large disposable incomes, the reboot has made steaming horse-sized piles of cash. This has proved that there’s definitely nothing weird about adults buying children’s toys, not at all, so the TV execs are on the lookout for the next 80s property that can be warmed up to fund a new fleet of Bentleys from the merchandise sales.
Again, something which is officially not weird now is adults spending hours writing stories set in the fictional universe of their favourite TV show. It’s not sad when you do it for Star Trek (nope), or Buffy (definitely not sad), or even The Golden Girls (not sad, sexy even) so I’ve been hard at work coming up with new stories in my own beloved world of the Care Bears. I’ve had to make it a bit more contemporary and give the bears a modern twist for the new generation, but I hope I’ve captured enough of that 80s magic to take my stories onto the TV screen and out of the spare bedroom at my mum’s house, where I’ve been living since the divorce. I just can’t wait to introduce you to my imaginary bear friends – and it’s nice to be able to say that without somebody reporting me to the people who own Snapchat.
The leader of the Care Bear bunch is Millennial Bear, the cool young bear with the sarcastic attitude and the endearing catchphrase – “what’s the wifi password, Dad? I hate you.” He has an iPhone on his stomach and is addicted to avocado toast and milky coffee. Along with the other bears, he spends his days sharing funny images online and playing the video game Fortnite instead of doing any work. He wears a £400 pair of trainers made by Kanye West and has a tattoo of a Pokémon on his neck.Bitcoin Bear
Bitcoin Bear is the geeky, technology-obsessed bear. He’s a blue bear with lines of code on his stomach, which may or may not contain your Facebook password. He doesn’t have the greatest social skills, but he’s always helping the other bears out by fixing their computers, hacking their school grades to an A+, and trading blockchain-based currency on the dark web to facilitate tax evasion and assassinations. Bitcoin Bear, you big nerd! In the 80s Care Bears cartoon the bears could immobilise threats by shining beams out of their stomachs – in this reboot Bitcoin Bear just explains how cryptocurrency works and enemies run away or fall asleep.
The twin brother of Bitcoin Bear is Youtu-bear, who is also rich, but instead of mining for bitcoin he has millions of followers on Google’s video-sharing platform. They log in to watch this green-furred bear shriek at computer games, do dangerous practical jokes on strangers, and sometimes apologise for making semi-racist jokes. None of the other bears can understand why he’s famous, because his jokes aren’t funny and he has a super annoying voice. He has the Youtube logo on his stomach, which he did in exchange for money. He carries a ukelele, which he is unable to play.Gym Selfie Bear
Setting a positive example to the other bears, up to thirty times a day, is Gym Selfie Bear. She lives her life for exercise, meditation, a paleobear diet, and the countless opportunities these give her to share inspirational snaps of her life to her 10,000 Instagram followers. She has a hashtag on her stomach and is sponsored to wear a different combo of lurid leggings and knitted trainers every time she appears onscreen. Although Gym Selfie Bear preaches positivity, anybody who makes a negative or even neutral comment about her outfit/recipe/pug online will inevitably be de-friended, although only after receiving a vile stream of abuse via private message.
Hipster bear has an elaborate moustache, wears a monocle and scoots around on a vintage French racing bicycle. He looks down on the other bears for their mainstream and predictable tastes, whilst enjoying artisan tea and the solo albums of Morrissey. Despite being born in 1996 he has the logo of the Commodore 64 computer on his stomach. Although he maintains an ironic detachment from the activities of the other bears, his real passion is collecting vinyl records and merchandise from the original 80s version of the Care Bears cartoon. His blog lists his occupation as “graphic design / typography / analogue fotograf” but his only income come from his trust fund and barista job.
Bad Hair Bears
Every kids’ cartoon needs villains, and the best kind are bumbling incompetents who are easily outwitted by our heroes, but can always be relied on to provide humour. The next generation of Care Bears will set out to foil the dastardly plans of a trio of international bears united by their wacky hairstyles and contempt for democracy – Brexit Bear with his blonde bouffant, Donald Bear and his unpredictable comb-over, and Korean Nuclear Bear. His haircut looks like an e-fit of a subway flasher. I hope you’ll join me and the Next Generation Care Bears on their wild and crazy adventures – particularly if I don’t get official permission, because it will be a wild and crazy adventure to a factory in Shenzen that doesn’t ask too many questions about copyright.