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Changing Cartoons, Changing Childhoods

Changing Cartoons, Changing Childhoods

December 10, 2011

Today’s cartoon shows are a cause for concern.

Cartoon characters occupy a special place in every television-watching child’s heart. They also tend to occupy a very special place in every older sibling’s hate-list, but the history of the world shows us that all awesome things (gravity, Galileo’s telescope, evolution) have faced opposition from dauntingly strong quarters. That does not make these things any less awesome. Cartoons will continue to enamour children for a long, long time. Older siblings and irritated parents will just have to grin and bear it.

Back in the 90’s when I counted cartoons as my one and only love, the TV showed Flintstones (whose cars and cameras were side-splitting-ly funny); Dexter’s Laboratory (the sister Dee Dee led me to incorrectly assume that even ‘those foreigners’ called their elder sisters Didi); the Jetsons, the Powerpuff Girls, Road Runner, Bugs Bunny, Johnny Bravo...yes, I used to watch a lot of TV.

Is it just me, or were cartoons back then much more creative and a lot funnier?
Wasn’t there something really brilliant about the Flintstones’ cameras, which consisted of a woodpecker and a plank of wood? Or am I turning into one of those people who believe that the standard of entertainment was the best exactly when they were kids?

My little sister watches a lot of cartoons, and I end up watching some of them with her. Try as I might, I cannot find Shin Chan funny. Obscene, maybe, but not funny. They’ve taken the naughty child thing too far. A child who untruthfully tells his mother that his father is having an affair is not naughty, he’s just evil. I also do not particularly appreciate the cartoon called Kick Buttowski.

Pokemon, too, was quite a rage: but then I am not a boy, and I won’t comment on that. There are very few girls who have watched and liked Pokemon.

That is not to say there are all bad cartoons blaring out of that TV. ‘Phineas and Ferb’ has replaced Dexter as the most fashionably nerdy cartoon. With the tagline ‘There’s no such thing as an ordinary day!’ they can be quite inspiring. They are kids who build everything from roller coasters to spaceships with no other objective in mind than to have fun. Another witty and entertaining cartoon is Kid vs. Kat, but the list of such cartoons is rather small.

Some might give the matter no more thought, abandon this post halfway, and start reading about more important things, like FDI or Veena Malik; all the while deluding themselves by saying that cartoon characters aren’t so important. But these are people who don’t know how much Indian parents collectively spent on Beyblades a few years ago, or how fast Ninja techniques are overtaking Karate. As far-fetched as it may sound, cartoon shows do affect the way children grow up, the ideals they learn to admire and the ways in which they choose to channel their creativity. We need to have shows that are better thought out, or at least funnier. 


  • chandrashekhar chourasia
    chandrashekhar chourasia
    03.10.12 09:42 PM
  • Koushic
    12.05.12 02:55 AM
    I'm 22 and i still love cartoons. On most occasions, my channel-zapping fingers respect cartoon network with a five second pit stop even today. but with the exception being when i catch the old hannah-barbera tom and jerry or dexter's lab, i raise my eyebrow, give a displeased nod and move on to cricket or news, feeling sorry for today's kids. Sometimes i wonder if my kids will ever get to enjoy top notch creativity and pure innocence on the telly. Today's cartoons are horrible in all areas that should be the hallmark of children's cartoons- leave innocence intact, set creativity rolling, promote good values (an alien being killed in every episode by a passive-aggressive boy who transforms into a monster does not remotely attempt to instill any of these values). I do understand that today's kids are a tad smarter than we were at their age, and the world has advanced A LOT since the '90s. so i agree, cartoons have to move forward, be smarter and more up-to-date. But potty-mouths and sleaze is neither smart nor up-to-date. It's carelessness, disregard and desperation. And now that hindi-dubbed cartoons like jungle book, duck tales, tail spin are off the air, the future looks very gloomy. But for kids that know kannada there's hope. there's this kannada channel- chintuTV. they've got amazing stuff. It's everything children's cartoon must be.
    PS: flinstones may be revived. Seth mcfarlane, the creator of family guy was a big fan and hopes to revive it
  • Jaai
    19.12.11 06:59 PM
    Thanks Vaibhav :) True, Shin Chan can be really funny for adults.
  • vaibhav
    19.12.11 06:36 PM
    I couldn't agree with you more. Yes, I read the post Full, Till the end. Yeah and I used to watch those cartoons too, yes and initially even I thought that Dee Dee = didi. Also your right Shin Chan is not funny, he's a devil and that's why I like him. In a way, Its a cartoon meant for Adults not kids. Yes and Phineas and Ferb rock \m/.
  • Jaai
    14.12.11 01:13 PM
    I never liked Scooby Doo either! *high five*

    I know, the new Tom and Jerry is very very bad. It makes me cry.

    I suppose the TV people just aren't creative enough anymore.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    14.12.11 01:07 PM
    Goddammit! I was thinking of writing a similar article on the state of Children's programming. But you beat me to this :)

    I'd agree to say that children's programming in the 90s was much better with stuff like Roadrunner Show, Wacky races, Scooby Doo (which I never quite liked), Swat Kats, Captain Planet etc.

    Also the interesting thing is that technological advances have not improved the quality of comics at all. In fact, they just made them cheaper for the networks (Look at the CGI Tom and Jerry -- disgusting!) and the content quality also suffered.

    Not just cartoons, other children's programming stuff like popular mechanics for kids, BQC etc. also were at its best too.
  • Jaai
    14.12.11 01:05 PM
    @Rajpriya: I'm sure you do. I was just saying that I don't like Pokemon. :)

    @The Fool: I have to disagree. The Japanese illustrations are really jarring to the eye. And there're way too many of those shows.
  • The Fool
    The Fool
    14.12.11 12:28 PM
    Somehow these days the cartoons on cartoon network and Disney no longer interest me. I am sure they would not have interested me if I had been a kid as well. The only cartoon channel I really enjoy is Animax. They have a few good ones. Japanese cartoons take serious themes and can actually appeal more to adults. Some of the existential themes and paradies may be too advanced for kids.
  • Rajpriya
    12.12.11 06:48 PM
    Yes! i know you shouldn't even if you could. But Jerry is running for his life all the time and in the process he keeps me excited what trick he would unfold next.

    From what I can see, you seem to take things with smile. My grand daughter is just like you born with smile but she never has to run and hide. We let her have a childhood that she is entitled to.
  • Jaai
    12.12.11 06:26 PM
    I wouldn't if I could. Jerry's is a difficult life.
  • Rajpriya
    12.12.11 12:40 PM

    "There have been so many times when it has taken me all my will power not to hide behind the sofa in the face of a Pokemon assault".

    The observation as stated made me curious to know if (with all your willpower) you did turn into being Jerry who has been my favorite always?

  • Jaai
    12.12.11 12:16 PM
    @Mr. Money to Burn: Sigh. I shall die of a broken heart. So much for conforming. :|

    @Bemoneyaware: Thank you! You're one of the few parents who don't find Shin Chan worth hating. And oh yeah Doraemon! It's good but only kids can have the patience to watch every single episode of that. I agree, the details in Tom and Jerry are brilliant.

    @Janhvi: Thank you. I know, Billy Mandi aur Haddi is just sad! Yeah even my sister had the Power Rangers obsession some time ago...thankfully she's over that now!
  • Janhvi
    12.12.11 09:52 AM
    I sooo agree. My sister watches a lot of cartoons, just like I did. But somehow, billy mandy aur haddi, or oggy and the cockroaches just doesn't appeal to me. then is the power ranger series... aren't there too many of them. i mean i watched action cartoons but not 15 versions of the same thing.
    i loved 90s cartoons... be it cartoon network or nick... i can never forget rugrats, recess, adventures of the hidden temple, catdog, flintstones, jetsons, dexter, and many many more.....
  • bemoneyaware
    12.12.11 08:54 AM
    Great one...our kids are exposed to lowest common denominator of entertainment in form of cartoon shows like Shin Shan (which I don't find worth hating.) , Doremon.
    I enjoy "Phineas and Ferb" with my 7 year old son. But there is nothing to beat Tom and Jerry the detail in every episode..if it's roman then even the arch in front of Jerry's hole is shaped that way.
  • Mr. Money To Burn
    Mr. Money To Burn
    11.12.11 11:28 PM
    Did you write this yourself? Just curious because it is good. I want to reward you with loads of cash from my immense wealth, but I do not reward good as I conform to real world rules now.
  • Jaai
    11.12.11 12:44 PM
    @Poor in Java: :D Thank you. What you say is true. And those good cartoons are what prompted me not to denounce television altogether :D

    @Noel: Yeah, they do! I might have watched half an episode of Kick Buttowski...I just don't like the name :P Thank you! :)
  • Noel
    11.12.11 12:15 AM
    CARTOONS RULE!! (I've watched cartoons for a disturbing amount of time tbh... i'm in my early 20's lol :P ) But your right I do find some of the newer cartoons a bit... well... crap compared to the ones our generation watched (90's and early 2000's)...I mean the pokemon that kids watch today is filled with new pokemon who look like every possible random thing this world has! (people who grew up watching the original pokemon with brock n misty in it probably look at the new pokemon and go 'wtf?!').. I havent watched shin chan or whatever that is.. but I agree with you on the fact that kid vs kat, phineas and ferb and some others of the new breed of toons are funny (i strongly disagree with your opinions about kickbuttowski though!). Kids should try cartoons from our generation like Batman beyond, Kenan and Kel (though not a cartoon its seriously funny), etc. This was a really good article.. keep writing and growing :)
  • Poor In Java
    Poor In Java
    10.12.11 11:48 PM
    FDI and Veena Malik :) LOL
    I think every generation and every decade has its own pattern and style and the way current generation so called Gen-X is growing up, these cartoons perhaps don't sound absurd to them. But I am completely with you on the part that looking back 2 decades and comparing those days cartoons with today's has definitely taken a step way too forward in terms of maturity and style of humor. But then at the same time there are good ones too that are educational and at the same time fun for kids.
  • Jaai
    10.12.11 05:41 PM
    @Ravi Swami: Okay, I have this certain bias towards nerdy cartoons. But I love Tom and Jerry. I wouldn't like it if a cartoon was banned because it was violent, but Shin Chan is in a league of its own. And you're right about the foreignness thing.

    @Harish: I don't know, I just can't get over the kid's impunity! Yes, it's very true that you can't appreciate cartoons as much when you grow up; however, you can appreciate creativity (not that kids have that benchmark)
  • Harish
    10.12.11 04:48 PM
    Shin Chan was funny (don't tell me it's not, not for children, but great for adolescents), and Pokemon was the greatest, I remember drawing all of them on my specially made drawing pad, buying innumerable Uncle Chips for the tazo cards.
    It is always fun when children, but it wears off as we grow up. I still watch a lot, but now there's news, there are innumerable television shows such as Dexter, HIMYM, Big Bang Theory, Fringe etc., and movies. Cartoons in their silly child like voices are no more amusing. However, I do see Family Guy sometimes, it's funny too and watchable.
    At some level, I feel we have grown up, and do not have that viewpoint anymore to appreciate them for what the are!
  • Ravi Swami
    Ravi Swami
    10.12.11 12:35 PM
    Oh dear...I sense the media police at work, back in the 70's this is exactly what happened in the UK when broadcasters killed off Tom & Jerry (& Laurel & Hardy for that matter) because they were deemed too violent - only to replace them with the largely anodyne locally (as opposed to nasty "foreign") produced material.

    So we lost great shows like Marine Boy...

    These shows very foreigness is what made them appealing & intriguing - a glimpse into another world via the medium of TV, and not the boringly familiar world of home - I'd take these over Postman Pat any day..
  • Jaai
    10.12.11 12:01 PM
    Thanks Vidhya. There have been so many times when it has taken me all my will power not to hide behind the sofa in the face of a Pokemon assault.

    @Tysonice Oh no I forgot Tom and Jerry! That cannot be! And your comment is funny :D Tom and Jerry did lead me to be a little more sympathetic towards mice, though.
  • tys
    10.12.11 10:39 AM
    some of the stuff my kids watch on tv in the name of kids entertainment is a tadbit worrying

    but i do recall that when i was a kid, well not exactly a kid, my parents debated if tom and jerry was violent...i guess it was...but to my credit, i was never influenced to drop a piano on anybody...
  • Vidhya
    10.12.11 10:26 AM
    SO true, I can vouch for that. Today's cartoons just plain scare me .

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