Monday, February 07, 2005

Cartoons still rock, yo

I wish I had more time. I'd have applied to work on the Daily Vidette, ISU's student newspaper, as one of the editors. Well, at least an editorial writer. I may not know much about editing newspapers, but I couldn't possibly write worse columns than some of the clowns that have worked for the Vidette in the past.

See the above link for an example of this. The writer laments the disappearance of good cartoons. Gone are the days of the Flintstones, the Jetsons, Tom and Jerry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Bugs Bunny, et cetera. These days, our cartoons lack many things and are dumb.

I want to point out my major disagreements with her, beginning with her glaring error in calling "Teletubbies" a cartoon. It is not. It may be a children's television program, but she seems to misunderstand the very defintion of cartoon when she labels it as such. She also chides it for its lack of intelligent dialogue, and though I wouldn't disagree with here there, she needs to realize that Teletubbies are meant for infants. Anybody older than two would find them trying.

Now to her real points. The author worries that too few cartoons contain good qualities such as a plot, an educational value, or instilling morals and virtues. Those things, however, are present in so many cartoons. Is she even looking very hard? Most CN shows have plots, even if they don't extend from show to show (something lacking in most shows these days anyhow). Educational value? That's a PBS quality, baby. You want that, you watch the Magic School Bus or something. Morals and virtues? Courage the Cowardly Dog teaches children about honesty, integrity, loyalty, etc. Powerpuff Girls? Honesty, integrity, etc. Most CN and WB cartoons are all about the virtues. Besides, since when was Bugs Bunny meant to be educational, or to promote morals?

Most of the cartoons she fondly remembers are not as well-remembered as she would like to think. People constantly berated Looney Toons for promoting and glorifying senseless violence. TMNT? Yeah, watch some of those old episodes and tell me you think that dialogue is oh-so-wonderful.

The truth is that there is an enormous variety of cartoons in the modern market for any audience you can think of. I'll be the first to admit, a lot of children's cartoons are rather dumb. They're not bad for the children, but they are kinda stupid. However, many of the most popular CN and WB cartoons are loved by both children and adults, and for good reason. Let's use Pixar as an example here. Their material is universally loved. What's their secret? Pixar's Craig Good, in a December interview with National Review, put it this way:

We don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults, actually ourselves, and then just make sure there's nothing in them that the little ones shouldn't see. The local cineplex is littered with movies made by studios who want to second-guess what the audience wants. We find we get better results by making what we want, and then assuming that there are other people like us out there.

If audiences in general are underestimated, kids really get the patronizing treatment. Two things are often forgotten about kids. One: They have no taste. They will watch just about anything. This is normal and healthy. Taste comes later. Two: They are not stupid! Kids are born intelligent, and there's no good reason to make dumbed-down entertainment for them.

He makes an excellent argument. Good cartoons are good cartoons. Ms. Hanson, on the other hand, seems to have no idea what is actually on TV.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... May I write a letter to the editor? There is a plethera of things wrong with her article. Maybe she should try ACTUALLY watching the TV she's criticzing and getting their networks right BEFORE she starts blubbering about their quality. Maybe she could use some educational television. my bias showing?? -Mel