Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Freud’s Structural Model of the Psyche

Taking a bit of a different tact today. A long time ago, in a blog that was far less popular than this one, I wrote about one of my favorite shows: Aqua Teen Hunger Force. It’s a little 15-minute journey into a confusing yet hilarious acid trip of animation. The show was renamed Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1, and then Aqua Something You Know Whatever, but it’s still a show about a box of french fries, a milkshake, and a meatball who live in New Jersey getting into hilarious predicaments.

Now, this other blog had nothing to do with the paranormal. Just a stream of consciousness from me about random things. The blog got no hits. Like ever. Except for this one post, wherein I compare the Aqua Teens to Freud’s model of the psyche. This post got many, many hits, I’m almost ashamed to say. People thought this was great, this little epiphany I had at some ungodly hour of the morning while watching Adult Swim.

It must be said that the Aqua Teens have always been dealing with the paranormal in some way. They have played with Ouija boards, had their house haunted, have been invaded by at least 3 distinct pairings of aliens from outer space, have tracked down New Jersey’s version of Bigfoot (called “Dirtfoot” on their show), and have encountered all manner of cryptozoological creature, such as Ol’ Drippy, Mothmonsterman and Romulux the tar monster. So yeah, if you like the paranormal, and have a twisted, subversive sense of humor, check out this show.

Anyways, here is the post that got me interested in blogging, in it’s original format.

Ok, so this post may really only appeal to psychology majors who happen to be fans of Cartoon Network’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” But I feel that it is worth discussing.

Sigmund Freud, as you may or may not know, theorized that there were three parts of the human psyche: the id, the ego, and the super-ego. But I’m not going to go into an in-depth discussion of these theories and this modality here. For more info, there’s a great Wikipedia article that sums it up nicely. Because what better place is there to get info on complex psychological theory than Wikipedia, right? But simply put, the id, ego and super-ego are the three parts of our psyche that motivate us. The id is the unorganized part of us that contains our basic drives. The ego is based more in reality, but tries to fulfill the id’s wants and needs. The super-ego is the organized part of us that strives for perfection and idealism. It is like our conscience.

So how does this relate to the Aqua Teens? Read on.

master shake aqua teen hunger forceMaster Shake – The Id: For anyone who has seen the show, this is pretty self-explanatory. Shake is quite possibly the most revolting human being shake alive, and exists only to further his own wants and desires. He has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He is selfish. He is self-centered. He is greedy and materialistic. He’s impatient, thoughtless, careless, mean-spirited, narcissistic, and sociopathic. He basically lives to obtain the basic wants and needs of all males, namely cool electronics such as guitars, televisions, PDAs, and other cool gadgets; food such as tacos, burritos, “Steak-Ums,” or flash-fried cows; and women, going so far as to order a mail-order bride from Russia that he would “co-marry” with his neighbor Carl. He delights in tormenting his roommate, Meatwad, and this seems to be his greatest form of entertainment. Shake even went so far as to commit suicide (in Carl’s pool, natch), just so that he could torment Meatwad in the video game he was playing, “Video Ouija.”

meatwad aqua teen hunger forceMeatwad- The Ego: Meatwad, while simple-minded and innocent, does possess a basic understanding of right and wrong, even if he doesn’t always choose what’s right. He is often frustrated and angry at Shake for all the pain and suffering he is put through by him, but just as often seems to look up to him and seeks his acceptance. He can be selfish at times, but can also be quite considerate of others. He always pulls the Danger Cart for his fellow Aqua Teens. When asking Carl to babysit his dolls, he was nice enough to leave Carl a note (it was scratched into the aluminum siding of his house, but it’s the thought that counts). When he almost killed Santa Claus, he still delivered toys to the world’s children, though it was often the wrong toy, and he had forced Shake to become a reindeer to pull the sleigh. So much like the ego, he tries to satisfy both the need to get what he wants, but also the need to do the right thing.

frylock aqua teen hunger force you know whatever patrol squad 1Frylock – The Super-Ego: Frylock is the conscience of the Aqua Teens. He is quite intelligent, and might even be a legitimate scientist. He’s crafted many inventions, most of which had the original intent of creating a better world, like the toilet that didn’t use water, his ultra-fast super computer, and his shrink ray. Though he can sometimes act selfishly as well, he is usually the voice of reason, especially concerning Shake’s selfish schemes. Just like the super-ego works in direct contradiction to the id, Frylock and Shake never see eye to eye. Shake just wants instant gratification for himself, while Frylock wants to act in a socially responsible manner, whether it be protecting the environment, being considerate to his neighbors, educating Meatwad, or attempting to save Carl from his imminent weekly maiming or death. The Aqua Teens are accosted almost weekly by some inept villain, and while Shake usually tries to befriend them for his own selfish purposes, it’s Frylock who ultimately wins the day, usually by shooting lightning or fireballs out of his eyes at said inept villain.

carl aqua teen hunger force you know whatever patrol squad 1Carl Brutananadilewski: There really is no corresponding part of the Psyche for Carl. He’s just there. He’s the typical asshole we all know. He’s overweight, balding, crude, crass, selfish, possibly racist, definitely sexually deviant, and yet the viewer cannot help but like Carl. He is a sympathetic figure, in that because he lives next to the Aqua Teens, he usually suffers some collateral damage from their adventures just because his house (which is always for sale) happens to be next to theirs. He has been beheaded, skinned alive multiple times, had his hands swell up, suffered a major bump on the head, fallen from a 2-story house, been shrunk, had his genital crabs enlarged, has exploded many times, as well as had his house and pool explode on multiple occasions. How can you not feel a little bad for the guy?

Of course, it’s completely possible that this is just a great show to watch late at night while you smoke a little pot and not have to think about any of this.

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2 comments on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Freud’s Structural Model of the Psyche

    1. How so? “… the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends…” That sounds like Shake to me. He has no morals, only selfish desires. People hear “ego” these days and think that is the selfish part, but not in this structural model.

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