Friday, January 13, 2006

Oldies But Goodies

My kids, like all red-blooded American kids, like to watch Saturday morning cartoons. And I, like all red-blooded American parents, sat down and watched with them to see what they were watching. Let me assure you, it's all crap. Approximately 50% of the shows seem to be about scantily-clad anime girls being catty to each other as they transform into animals or use their magic powers. The other 50% of the shows are based on video games and/or heavily merchandised toys. Everything that's on today is the sort of thing I would have turned off as a kid, in favor of going outside in my snow boots in the height of summer and playing astronaut on the swingset.

I told the kids frankly that I didn't like their cartoons, and I told them why. I spoke of the glory days of cartoons, of Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry, when cartoons were actually funny and original and worth watching. When even grown-ups could laugh at humor that was simultaneously mature and slapstick, chock full of cultural references that helped reinforce classical music and history. And the kids just blinked at me.

And then I got them an Animaniacs video from the video rental place. Suddenly, they understood exactly what I meant. They were laughing their little rears off from the start of the video to the end, when they rewound it and did the whole thing again. Sonshine even made a Brain finger puppet out of paper. (I guess Brain's subliminal video mind control idea worked.) But the best part about it is that they agreed with me-- the cartoons of yesteryear are head and shoulders above anything that's being produced today. No matter how sophisticated the video games get at showing murder and mayhem, there's still nothing more entertaining than a well-timed pratfall.