Sunday, June 26, 2005

Whatever happened to good cartoons?

I see some of the cartoons that my nieces and nephew watch and I wonder where truly funny, entertaining cartoons went. All these shows today are so similar that I can't tell them apart. I grew up on Looney Tunes, Tom & Jerry and Scooby-Doo just to name a few. Even older cartoons like Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and Tennessee Tuxedo were in heavy rotation when I was a kid, and they were all great. Looney Tunes were always my favorite, and Daffy Duck is the greatest cartoon character ever created. Yeah, that's right, all you Bugs fans... you can all bite me! Don't get me wrong, I love Bugs too. Just that Daffy is so completely demented that I gotta love him. He's easier to relate to than smooth, cool, calm and collected Bugs.

I don't know that I can put my finger on what it was about those cartoons that made them so much better than this garbage we have now, but I'll try.

First of all, cartoon violence was great back in the day. Nothing cracked me up more than Jerry whacking Tom in the face with a frying pan or Bugs tricking Yosemite Sam into blowing himself up. But for some reason it was decided that cartoons were too violent and everything had to be changed. Did you ever watch a latter-day Tom & Jerry or Looney Tunes cartoon? No, most people didn't, because all the fun was sucked right out of them. So, apparently kids aren't smart enough to know that if you drop an anvil on someone's head, they won't actually get up and walk away. Yet, it's ok to let them play video games where characters are pulling out each other's spines and cutting their heads off. I guess if cartoons show the consequences of violent acts, then they can continue to be violent? Yeah, because it would be so much fun to actually see Elmer Fudd shoot Bugs and Daffy and then cook them up for dinner. (Although I will admit that I always secretly hoped that Sylvester would catch that damn Tweety Bird and kill it.) It's just odd that after the big crack-down on cartoon violence, the amount of violence depicted on TV shows, movies and video games got progressively worse. I've heard of a lot of kids acting out things they saw in a movie or game, but never heard of any kid trying to kill someone by painting a fake tunnel on the side of a mountain.

Still, it's not just the slapstick violence that made old cartoons so great. There was always a great balance between entertaining kids and adults. Cartoons today are either so childish that no adult can sit through more than 5 minutes without wanting to put their fist through the screen, or they're trying too hard to be accepted by adults. In my eyes, only 2 really good cartoons have been created within the last 10 years or so:

The Simpsons
Now, this really isn't a cartoon for young kids, but I would say that kids 10 and older can truly enjoy this show. And since it actually is targeted toward adults, we never feel like it's overcompensating to keep us interested. It has lost a bit of it's lustre over the past couple years, but most shows do after being on as long as this one has.

Spongebob Squarepants
I know a lot of adults who absolutely hate this show, but I have no idea why. This is one of those shows that, like Looney Tunes, knows exactly who its audience is and is able to perfectly mix kiddie humor with more mature material. It's smart and stupid all at the same time, which is exactly what a good cartoon should be! For any of you who have never watched the show, I advise you to go out and rent whatever DVD has the episode "Band Geeks" on it. This is the episode that sold me on the show. I still crack up at the ending every time I see it. And yes, I saw the movie, and yes I loved it!

1 comment:

Mike said...

I love band geeks! My son and I had to get the dvd pronto!


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