Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cartoons aren't what they used to be

I've been watching a lot of Playhouse Disney lately. I find myself humming the theme song from "Special Agent Oso" and "Johnny and the Sprites" when I am outside and I have to catch myself before someone hears. Sofia doesn't watch a lot of tv but in the morning while I'm having my coffee I sit her in her rocking chair and she loves watching the colours and hearing the songs. (Apparently, even a little Playhouse is enough to put songs in my head!).

While watching "Micky Mouse Playhouse" one day I thought about how children's cartoons have changed. When I was a kid, I watched "The Smurfs", "She-Ra: Princess of Power!", "Rainbow Brite" and "Care Bears". The one thing they all had in common, that cartoons today do not, is villians. There are no bad guys in cartoons anymore! I can see why, I guess. Kids are vulnerable and easily frightened, and we really would rather shield them from scary, bad things than introduce that to them too early.

However, I grew up watching those shows and I turned out fine. When I was visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins recently we were watching tv and we put on some cartoons for the girls. It wasn't Playhouse, but another cartoon channel, which we thought was fine. Soon though, the youngest who is four, said she didn't want to watch it anymore because it was scary. We were watching "Inspector Gadget", a show I watched all the time as a child. That's when I thought about it and decided that while the new cartoons aimed at little children are cute and fun and teach lots, they do not really prepare kids for the real world. If a bad guy (whose face you never even see) scares a four year old, what will real actual scary things do?

I don't think it's good to scare kids, but I do think it's ok for them to know that there are "bad guys" out there. It's also good for them to see the good guys win in the end, by being smart and strong. I will continue to let Sofia watch Playhouse, but I think once in a while when she's a bit older I will turn on some of the cartoons I used to watch. That way, I get to watch them too hehe.

1 comment:

  1. Jenn,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I've been thinking about this for quite some time, and equally as concerned. The lessons in cartoons of yore were based on morality, and the struggle between good and evil. Today, the lessons are strictly academic.

    I recently watched an old Bugs Bunny episode in which Yosemite Sam repeatedly gets sent to Hell for committing a series of dastardly deeds. Flip over to modern cartoons such as Dora the Explorer, and Swiper the Fox - allegedly the bad guy - never pays for his mistakes. Instead, the only person who pays is Dora, who has to find her own belongings after Swiper steals them.

    There has been a cultural shift in the way we perceive good and evil. As I'm writing this, my kids have the modern version of Strawberry Shortcake on the TV. Professor Plum is coincidentally absent from this episode.