Booty Booty Booty Booty! Rock-Afire Explosion

I read an article in the Chicago Tribune in September that really got me interested in the animatronic band from Showbiz Pizza, The Rock-A-Fire Explosion. Apparently there is an underground trade of sorts of the different pieces of the band, and collectors will put up some fairly big bucks to get their collections closer to completion.

Even cooler than that, though, is that people are still programming shows for the washed-up band, the best by far being “Ms. New Booty” by Bubba Sparxxx.

However, Aaron Fechter, one of the original creators of the Rock-Afire Explosion (and voice of several of them) wants all videos of the characters run by him before being uploaded to video sharing sites. The Youtube video of Ms. New Booty has been made private. Fechter apparently wants to make sure the “family friendly” image of the band is maintained …

This video has gotten all around the Internet and has restarted interest in the RAE (as they call it in the Showbiz Pizza forums). Anyone who would care about these machines is older than 18 by now. Does Mr. Fechter really think kids now-a-days would seek out Rock-Afire Explosion videos?

Anyway, I say we need to free the Explosion. Make it all public. It can become a medium in it’s own (it already is).

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31 Comments

Filed under Things That Interest Me, Uncategorized

31 responses to “Booty Booty Booty Booty! Rock-Afire Explosion

  1. Aaron Fechter

    I’m afraid that copyrights don’t work that way. I understand that the copyright pirates would like to take their liberties and make excuses as to why the copyrights aren’t worth anything and therefore should not be protected. But, obviously they are wrong about that. The very fact that there is so much interest in the characters proves their value.
    But, I don’t have to prove the characters are worth one dime to be entitled to protection from those who would misappropriate them. It happens, also, that I still have a large family audience following and new restaurants opening that use my characters from time to time. The Rock-afire Explosion is my life’s work and it still has a lot of potential besides pornography and potty humor. Perhaps you should demand that Disney turn over Mickey Mouse to those who think it would be funny to draw pornographic cartoons starring M.M. since most of the people who have know who Mickey Mouse are over 18 years of age. Just leave my life’s work alone, or get my permission to use it and we’ll get along just fine. Thank you.

  2. I did not mean to offend your life’s work, Mr. Fechter. If anything, my point was to praise your work. All my peers remember the band, even though they had only gone to Showbiz once or twice when they were very young. The Explosion has incredible staying power in the collective cultural iconography, and that was certainly achieved through hard work and persistence.

    My point is that when something becomes ingrained enough in our collective psyche, it becomes an inalienable part of our culture. And, as a part of that, people will start taking it and adapting it in their own way. Some will be bad (potty humor and such), but some will be incredible and fresh (Ms. New Booty). That spectrum always exists. It’s like a sign of iconic maturity, I guess.

    As far as copyright law goes, I am sure you are right. But this argument seems very similar to the on-going battle between Samuel Becket (and, now, his estate) and people who want to put on versions of his plays that are drastically different than the stage directions suggest.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/italy/story/0,,1702095,00.html

    Ignore the civil rights aspect for the sake of this debate.

  3. booty booty booty booty rockin' everywhere!

    in response to aaron fetcher:

    uh, i don’t know if you know this but interest in animatronics has been declining since the early nineties. they have (if not completely) been replaced in cinema by cgi and the only major place i can think of that still employs their use is disney land. animatronics used to be a novelty… today, no one is that impressed.

    anyway, you should be ecstatic that people are adapting your “life’s work” to appeal to a new demographic. it’s not like what they’re doing is out of malevolence. from what i can tell, it’s from people who like the rock-afire explosion and want to see them perform something that caters to the interests of a new generation, even if their standards are incomprehensible to you. why not just embrace the newfound attention you’re receiving and let people entertain themselves with what you’ve created. your kill-joy attitude is only stifling this “potential” you say they still have.

  4. I am probably a big blame for this new era coming about. I am the guy that built the programmer and created the venue we are all trading this stuff on.

    I agree with every point that has been made towards us doing what we do for the love of the RAE and what Aaron has created. I cheerish his work and the fact that he gave my childhood a great meaning and given my life a full set of goals to acheive.

    I am really hoping and striving that we can all work things out so everything is enjoyed by all. I hope we can continue to share our artistic creations on the RAE with the world of youtube. I understand when Aaron says he does not want his image drug through the mud, and I am very willing to work with him and making sure this does not happen.

    Let this new era be enjoyed by us all including the Creator Aaron Fechter.

    David

  5. Jacob

    Aaron is stupid. For some reason he thinks that he is this powerful god just because he created these characters. He is not all that!
    If people want to program their characters to sing and perform something different, so be it. Who the hell is he to tell other people what they can or cannot do to their own characters that they purchased!! F*** Aaron, he is no one special! And F*** his “Life’s Work” Chucky Cheese took over his “Life’s Work”, so now his stuff ain’t $h!t. Which is why other people are programming other things. I am sure they get bored with the old shows. Instead of bringing them down, Aaron, be grateful! Geeeeeez! From what I can recall, I believe it’s this SAME arrogance that you are showing now that got your “LIFE’S WORK” thrown out and converted over to Chucky Cheese behind your back!! Just goes to show!!

    • Rye Gunderson

      I am planning on shutting down chuck e cheese bankrupting them and then giving back Aaron his precious characters before Chuck screws them up worse then they are now. Go to Billybobs Wonderland. Their show is dead. Im to blame for not fixing them up. Aaron cant afford. He lives in an RV for god sakes! He needs help not accusing! Reply to this saying I will take a stand to save Aaron and his work and destroy anyone who stands in the way of my dream of reviving The Rock-A Fire Explosion! They need us like a baby to a mum. I may be young only 13 but I say that any age can care about this show. The reason people hate it is due to the shape they were in. Its freaky I admit, but we can stop it from being that way by standing up for Aaron. Donate, help make molds, make the fur, build cosmetics, create new shows! and if we do that all together. We as the fans and Aaron can start a new restraunt with all of his melting corpses laying in the haunted basement waiting year after year to be used again but sadly they wait another year and collect dust and chip and worst of all. BREAK… Save our childhood!!!!

      • kobun37

        Chuck E. Cheese doesn’t own Aaron’s characters. They only own the robot hardware they bought from CEI. That’s why the bots were reskinned to Chuck and Munch’s Make Believe Band.

        The company that runs Chuck E. Cheese’s has not had anything to do with Aaron since the early 90s. There’s nothing stopping Aaron from doing whatever he wants with the RAE at this point.

  6. Yikes,
    once again everyone gets emotional about something that is a business decision.
    I would love to see Aaron produce new shows, I would love to see more RAE stuff – but the truth of the matter is it is HIS decision.
    Posts calling him names is going to do nothing but push him farther away.
    Did you guys know that someone STILL owns and enforces the song “Happy Birthday To You”? Is it part of public domain just because it is “ingrained” in our lives? The LAW says NO, and the law is the law. Wanna sing Happy Birthday in your house? – Fine! Wannt Sing Happy Birthday and post it on You Tube – get sued.
    The way we “feel” about something has no value when someone sues you for copyright infringement.
    The only “gray” area here is parody. Lot’s of people can make fun of things (al-la Family Guy, South Park) and not get sued. BUT they are not duplicating the exact same items. (You couldn’t buy-up old animations cells of Mickey Mouse and publish them as you see fit – no matter HOW MUCH you spent for them!)
    And my final thought is this – Aaron is never going to stop this home programming movement. All this will do is drive it underground, where it has been until recently. And I believe he knows this – but…
    None of us can afford to be in court over this. ANYONE can sue ANYONE ELSE for ANYTHING they want to… and if you push Aaron enough, I can see that happening. Even if he doesn’t win – do any of you know what a pain in the rear going to court every 6 weeks is like? Do you intend on fighting a $150.00 an hour lawyer on your own? Or are you going to cough-up the $150.00 to get your own lawyer?
    Take the emotion out of this. Look at the black-and-white of it and the right path is as clear as day.
    You play by his rules, or play in private. You want to call attention to yourself? Then be ready for ALL attention – both good and bad.
    Beth

  7. Jacob

    Aaron is just blowing smoke to scare people. Like I said, it’s a power thing!
    And let me tell you, all of those shows that he produced for the RAE back when it was Showbiz Pizza, he did not pay for ANY of those songs. He recorded and programmed all those shows without the artist or writers permission. He only got caught once I believe out of the years he did it. And even today when he programs shows, he doesn’t get permission and he doesn’t go through the legal procedure to use them. So I don’t care about the whole “get sued” BS. If anyone would get sued, it would be him for proof of all the shows that he has used without permission in Showbiz and in his restaurants now. He is a hypocrite. Enough said!!

  8. Aaron Fechter

    Wrong again, Jacob. On both counts. now, tell us your real name, Jacob. Everyone knows how to reach me. Who are you and how do we reach you?

  9. Chris Thrash

    Who is the one person that hates Aaron that much as to say such things in public. But would be to affraid to reveal thier true name.
    Don’t we all know who that is!

  10. Jacob

    HA!
    Jacob is my real name. I would give my email address out, but knowing Aaron, you would just harrass me.

    I know alot about you Mr. Fetcher because I use to work for Showbiz at the Corporate Office, and during the change over to CEC. Believe me, you were the subject of many conversations.

    So, think what you want… but Jacob is my real name.

  11. Snap

    Hey Jacob you can e-mail me if you’d like. I am posting this here so everyone can read if they havent heard the story behind this programmed show yet. This was a song I had been making fun of since it came out. Especially the original Bubba Sparks video. I programmed this show for fun and practice. I wanted to pick something that was not affiliated with the original show. And to my surprise came out pretty well. Oh and now let me add EXACTLY because I do my friends like this online 😉 haha yes..it’s about you ..you know who you are. i do give the credit where it is due.
    _________________________________
    Chris Thrash- (Because he didn’t have enough Paitence to sit and watch Me…LOL!) -Dooks Left and Right arm, Organ legs, Bass Drum light, Spot Lights.
    _________________________________
    Snap- Everything Else
    _________________________________
    Thank you Chris, Snap

  12. Katherine

    Responding to a comment made on Dec. 7th 2007;
    I don’t know how to reach Mr. Fetcher, but I would like to do so. I have many questions about the history of Rockafire and any of his upcoming projects…. so… yes.

  13. Katherine Mann

    Also,
    Mr Fetcher, I am not a copyright pirate. I promise never to profit from your animatronic creatures and can ensure you that I never intended to do so. I think that your insistence that the YouTube videos which used the Rock-afire Explosion are akin to pornography is both incredulous and rude. The videos on YouTube that I saw seemed to have been made quite lovingly as a parody of sorts. To clarify I do not mean that they poked fun at Rock-afire Explosion, this was not a parody of your life’s work, but rather an extension of it.

    These characters played music for us as children, and now we, ‘those children’, are all grown up but still want Fatz and the gang to sing songs, songs that we recognize and enjoy. Rock-afire Explosion started by playing popular music, the Grammy show comes to mind, the fact that popular music has evolved into something more adult is hardly one person’s fault. Granted, some of the songs chosen were perhaps better left out of a Rock-afire Explosion act to be seen at Chimpy’s, Showbiz, or Chuck E Cheese, but there were entertaining none-the-less.

    When you created the Rock-afire Explosion, you created a group of characters that evolved over time, (Mitzi wasn’t always a mouse, was she), and now that Rock-afire Explosion is being given a chance to evolve again you not only shun it, you condemn it.

    I understand that there are still institutions that are using these characters, and that you want to protect your image but I do find your actions to be rash. It is my understanding that as long as the Rock-afire Explosion show produced by the fans does not imply that it is still part of a production created by yourself, that it can legally be considered a parody. While the images and likenesses of your characters may be copyrighted (and perhaps also the typeface on “Rock-afire Explosion”) television shows that turn a profit by using copyrighted characters in parody (South Park, SNL, Robot Chicken) can do so without fear of legal action because it is just that: PARODY. An extension of a pre-established character and story preempted with a disclaimer.

    I am not a lawyer, I will not pretend to be. I am just a chick that wants to see Mitzi sing an Evanescence song again.

  14. Katherine Mann

    Also, also…
    Snap, may I email you?

  15. Katherine Mann

    Very last thing, for the heck of it:
    “Question: When is parody protected from a charge of trademark infringement?

    Answer: Parody is a usage of a mark that pokes fun at the mark and does not confuse the public as to the source of the usage. In determining whether there is infringement the court balances the public interest in free expression against the public interest in avoiding consumer confusion. “A parody must convey two simultaneous–and contradictory messages; that it is the original, but also that it is not the original and is instead a parody. To the extent that it does only the former but not the latter, it is not only a poor parody but also vulnerable under trademark law, since the consumer will be confused.” From Cliffs NOtes, Inc. v. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 886 F. 2d 490 (2d Cir. 1989) “

  16. Chris Thrash

    This comment is for Katherine Mann.

    I am the one who programmed 90% of the shows that were seen. I did not invent the programmer, nor am i Snap.

    If you would like to talk with me you can contact me cdjsmurf@yahoo.com If you do email me please put RAF talk in subject so i want think its spam and delete it.

    Thanks, hope to hear from you.

  17. Katherine Mann

    After speaking with Mr. Fetcher and hearing that there will soon be RAF videos up on a website I am losing my footing for complaint. Like I said above, I just want Mitzi to sing again. 🙂

  18. Aaron Fechter

    Yes, I have many plans for the Rock-afire Explosion. I still sell showtapes to my customers. David, the maker of the programmer is using the You Tube medium to popularize his derivative works and programmers like Chris Thrash to do all the work for him. With these fake showtapes being created, my customers will decide just to download the free, albeit fake showtapes rather than to buy mine. My customers are already buying bogus masks and showtape copies from Snapper who has been told in no uncertain terms to stop making the masks and tapes. I have suffered great financial loss due to the efforts of Snapper and David to take my business and turn it into their own. I am being run out of business by the very people I have helped to get their own shows. Snapper is creating merchandise that is copyrighted as well. It is a total mess because of the young people who don’t understand that they should respect copyrights. It has forced me to bring the hammer down on even the harmless violations of my copyrights. David and Snapper have made it impossible for me to turn my back on copyright violations. I cannot hope to win a popularity contest here, but I will stop the copyright violators. If there are any parodies that do not threaten my life’s work and my future, I will allow them. But, I disagree that the work we are seeing are parodies or that there is anything harmless about David and Snapper. The characters they use are authentic, and are, down to the last detail the exact characters my company manufactured. They are taking my business from me and supplying everything from copies of my showtapes and manuals and masks costumes, to the posters that hung in the stores, and T-Shirts and drinking cups. Just imagine what Disney would do to them. Imagine what Chuck E. Cheese would do to them. That’s what I will do to them. And, anyone who happens to be participating in copyright violations that may not have been as harmful will obviously have to stop as well. Snapper and David are your heroes that have driven a wedge between me and fans who I have developed a close relationship with up to now.

  19. PARODY

    Worth a read boys:

    Parody: Fair Use or Copyright Infringement
    © Copyright 1999 Lloyd L. Rich

    Introduction

    It has been a long-standing practice to poke fun at our cultural icons, symbols, public figures and celebrities. A parody exists when one imitates a serious piece of work, such as literature, music or artwork, for a humorous or satirical effect. Parody, as a method of criticism, has been a very popular means for authors, entertainers and advertisers to communicate a particular message or point of view to the public.

    A parody, because it is a method of criticism, must inevitably make use of another creative work. This inherently creates a conflict between the creator of the work that is being parodied (as no one likes to be criticized, made fun of or ridiculed) and the creator of the parody. It is also highly unlikely that a copyright owner will grant permission or a license to a parodist to use their copyright protected work in creating a parody.

    Since copyright law prohibits the substantial use of a copyrighted work without permission of the copyright owner, and because such permission is highly unlikely when the use is to create a parody, it may be necessary for the parodist to rely on the fair-use defense to forestall any liability for copyright infringement. However, the fair-use defense if successful will only be successful when the newly created work that purports itself to be parody is a valid parody.

    Another line of defense that may be available for parodists are the free speech principles incorporated in the First Amendment. Historically courts have been sensitive to the interaction between parody as a means of entertainment and as a form of social commentary and criticism and First Amendment values. The public interest in such expression could be construed as outweighing the rights of the copyright owner. Entertainers have successfully invoked free speech principles to present wide-ranging artistic expression. However, when commercial gain appears to be the primary motive such as in movies, books, songs, plays and visual art the parodist’s work and its defense under the First Amendment and fair use doctrine has frequently resulted in a number of court decisions that are seemingly irreconcilable.

    The courts have continually struggled with parody cases when ascertaining whether a particular parody falls within the parameters of fair use or is instead copyright infringement. The fair use section of the Copyright Act specifically enumerates criticism as one of the purposes for which the fair use defense was contemplated, but should this imply that a parody should have more extensive latitude than other types of creative works when the fair-use defense is invoked? If parody fails to be protected by the fair use doctrine would this then result in the disappearance of parody as a form of social criticism and comment? What would happen to the parody genre if the parodist is unable to obtain permission to use a parodied work and is then failing to obtain permission is unable to successfully invoke the fair use defense? Should the parody fair-use defense be made more expansive to ensure that copyright infringement does not prohibit a use that in all likelihood would not be licensed from the copyright owner? … READ MORE.

  20. I stumbled across this when I was attempting to show the video to my coworker since I thought it was extremely entertaining and worth showing. I read through the comments, and all I have to say is “Wow”!.

    I don’t know if this guy is the real creator or not, but if he is then he basically shot himself in the foot by requesting that the video be taken down. I believe that the video was actually listed on digg.com at some point, and if you’re familiar with that site, then you know that’s a HUGE audience that’s being exposed. That’s recognition that advertisers would LOVE to have.

    But instead of finding a way to capitalize on this, the creator of the hardware decides to instead put an end to the video. Can you imagine dance clubs having some sort of animatronic performers on their stage to entertain the patrons and bring them back to their childhood with the music that they currently enjoy. Let alone the entertainment and novelty factor alone.

    But instead, people fear what they do not know. I also noticed how he referred to the music as derogatory. This is what new generations of people listen do, and I sincerely believe that this guy was speaking out of ignorance.

  21. Elaine

    I am a mom of a very bright but still very innocent 10 year old. I happened across this website because he is and has been for a very long time pretty obsessed with the Rock a Fire Explosion and other animatronics. As his mother, I wanted to learn more and make sure what he is exposed to is pure. There was a comment made that kids now a days don’t seek out Rock-a-Fire Explosion videos. I know that to be wrong. My son is not unique. He is a creative and impressive 10 year old little boy who pours over the computer seeking out RAF and CEC videos on a daily basis. So please don’t think that these animatronics appeal only to a particular age group who have now grow up. There’s a lot to be said for a childhood memory remaining unaltered by time and all that goes with it.

  22. Stephen

    Aaron,

    I have viewed some of Chris Thrash’s shows and they are terrific. I have also given some thought to the copyright debate and want to share to you some possible solutions.

    The first thing I would like to say is that the internet world and PC computing world has allowed smaller scale developers such as individuals, non-profits, and others to become creators. In the 1980s and 1990s, most software and especially animatronic development was generally limited to bigger companies simply due to the cost of the equipment required. But with the equipment costs falling and some of it being used and replaced or disposed, it is possible for it to end up in the hands of non-corporates (such as how Chris Thrash and others obtained theirs). As such, people have found ways for developing and controlling the robots, and developing new programs for them.

    The internet has also exposed a way for smaller scale projects to obtain bigger audiences. With the success of YouTube, MySpace, Gnutella, BitTorrent, MP3Tunes, Google Video, FaceBook, Shutterfly, SnapFish, PhotoBucket, Blogspot, Wikipedia, and others it has provided an easy way for one to bypass the middleman and to reach an audience, something that only publishers could do in the years earlier.

    So I think the real solution to the copyright issue involves big companies being willling to license to smaller scale developers and non-profit developers for uses other than mass scale marketing such as video or music sharing online, or allow the creation of fan programs for non-commercial distribution at a price that the average home user can afford. If you look, Blender.com said that RIAA’s biggest mistake was failure to license the original Napster! I predict that if RIAA would have licensed Napster and other technologies in their infancy, they would not have the P2P mess today with decentralized sharing systems they cannot control with litigation or legislation.

    In regard to creating Aftermarket control devices, this is probably legal. If you look at these cases, they prove it:

    Sega v Accolade – This proved that figuring out how something worked to make something compatible with it is legal.

    Sony Computer Entertainment v Connectix Corp – Emulation of another platform in software is legal.

    Lexmark International v Static Control Components – This proved that Aftermarket parts (toner) can be used on a printer.

    Chamberlain Group v Skylink Technologies – This proved that aftermarket remote controls can be used on garage door openers.

    I support your efforts to keep rock-a-fire alive and family friendly. However, I would suggest that you work to create licenses for the legal creation of fan programs and to allow the development of indepedently created shows like what Chris Thrash and others did.

    Stephen

  23. Aaron has definately shot himself in the foot. He has done nothing to promote his show since its death in the early 90’s and what happens? A few of us inventors come along and design our own way to control them using current day technology and he has no interest in it until, all of a sudden its getting notice and popularity. Now Mr. Fechter has twisted things up so nicely that he is attempting to take control of our creation.

    We will not let that happen. We will stand for our rights on our purchased robots. He will now have to stand against another great competition like he did with CEC and I predict as the past has unfolded, he will lose again.

    David
    Programblue.com

  24. Ryan

    Now Aaron, David is not hurting your buisness. He is introducing the RAE to the new generations. He’s helping the RAE be re-introduced. I’ve seen your new animatronic starters kit and all over that site you say ” Animatronics is the hobby of the 21st century”. Well in fact Aaron, David’s programmer is helping animatronics be the hobby of the 21st century. So think about that.

  25. This matter is now in litigation, and the copyright pirates have been served their well earned lawsuit. They can “tell it to the judge”.

    The Rock-afire Explosion has never been “dead” regardless of whether or not it was common knowledge what was going on with them.

    To see the only authorized new videos of the Rock-afire Explosion, goto http://www.youtube.com/user/fanprograms.

  26. Me

    I was just going to say that rock-afire still exists in a pizza place in New York. So it’s not really dead, and Aarons work still lives on the way he intended it. I love these kinds of animatronics. I remember being a kid and thinking that when i looked behind the curtain they were going to be walking around or would yell at me or something. Of course I did get yelled at, but by someones mom.

  27. For those who have followed this story and wonder how the courts viewed this dispute, you may access the complaint against David Ferguson as well as the Settlement Agreement at this link:
    http://www.starsof.com/ferguson/

    The latest on the Rock-afire Explosion is at the YouTube channel, “fanprograms”

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