Are you like me? Did you grow up in the early days of television, watching Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, and Roadrunner cartoons? Have you ever killed anyone? Me neither. (Bugs don’t count!) So, why is one popular opinion that television cartoon violence created this mess we’ve found ourselves in? What genius decided that watching the coyote fall off a cliff and survive has desensitized our children to violence? It didn’t make me violent—it just reinforced my opinion that I refuse to grow up. That’s why we didn’t switch cable providers, so my husband could get the Sci-Fi channel—it didn’t get the Cartoon Network. I had him pick a number from one to ten and he said six. Nope. Seven. I got the Jetsons and he watched Star Trek reruns on other cable channels. Luckily, they finally got the “good” cable in our area, so he’s a happy camper now.
These same people probably don’t pay a bit of attention when their children are in the room during the nightly news. There’s more violence at ten o’clock than is seen during the worst cartoon on the Cartoon Network. The news isn’t funny, unless you’re into political humor. Washington, DC is normally worth a chuckle or two.
If it’s true that cartoons propagate violence, then why don’t children think bears steal picnic baskets, sponges wear clothes, and panthers are pink? You don’t suppose it’s because their parents told them it’s fiction, do you? I don’t think cartoons have a darn thing to do with what’s happening on the streets of America today. It goes much deeper than that. I remember a drive-in movie with my mom. It was about a plane crash in the mountains, and when it turned out to be scarier than she thought it would be, she made my sister and I put our heads down so we wouldn’t get scared. She never did that when we were watching cartoons.
You know, she might have been on to something there. What a concept! Keep an eye on what your children are watching and shield them from things you think are bad for them. She must have been right, because that same movie was on TV lately, and I found myself with my head under the covers. One of these days when I grow up, I’m going to watch it all the way through. Do you think if more parents kept their kids from watching the Halloween movies or the Jason movies or Scream, we might stand a chance at today’s children having a realistic view of what killing means?
I blame Dr. Spock for the whole mess. Okay, let’s not confuse the issue. I said Dr. Spock, not Mr. Spock. Mr. Spock had the right idea–Live long and prosper. Dr. Spock’s opinion on child rearing was to be gentle with your children. Because this generation grew up hearing how to raise children from him, some have formed the opinion that cartoons are too violent for our children to see. We must shield them from the seamy side of Fred Flintstone getting mauled by Dino. Mustn’t do anything to damage their little psyches by watching Sylvester eat Tweety. Watching my real cat eat my real bird did more damage to me than anything Sylvester ever did. At least Tweety always lived.
Cartoons teach values, things like stamina and creativity. Even though nothing he ever did worked, the coyote tried again. He’d immediately go from one wild scheme to another, seeming to have an endless supply of ideas. Lesson? Never, ever give up. And, as an aside, he must have been financially solvent, because he always got in packages from Acme. Not sure how that happened.
Personally, I think he’s gotten a bum rap. I find it ironic that the most common cartoon referenced as being violent is the Roadrunner, because of the coyote. Have any of these people ever watched Ren & Stimpy? Those two are disgusting looking, with incredibly graphic bodily functions, and they’re not exactly Mary Poppins’ type characters. Most of the newer cartoons don’t even come close to the humor found in the early cartoons. They’re not funny anymore–they’re just animated action series. And what is the lesson from them?
I always liked President Bush’s idea of a kinder, gentler nation. People helping each other out, neighbors knowing neighbors and kids watching Saturday morning cartoons while their parents slept in, like I did. “They” decided that Saturday morning television couldn’t have too many cartoons, had to have more educational stuff on for the little ones to watch. That’s why we now have Saturday morning news shows. Real educational, huh? Stuff like how to blow up federal buildings, do drive-by shootings, or break into houses and attack elderly people. Yeah, that makes sense.
We’ve got it all twisted up, somehow. We’ve taken away the funny cartoons from our children, the very things that keep them young as long as possible. We’ve made them grow up too soon, while protecting their little egos from damage by not making them feel guilty for when they’ve done something wrong. The real shame is that for those of us who absolutely refuse to grow up, is that we don’t have anything to watch on Saturday morning, either. Even the Cartoon Network lets us down, because it runs Super Friends instead of George of the Jungle.
I love animals because I hurt when Bambi’s mother died. Lesson? Death hurts. I laugh easily because I grew up watching Bugs Bunny outsmart Elmer Fudd at every turn. Lesson? A little creativity goes a long way. I empathize for those in pain because I feel sorry for Daffy Duck when he doesn’t get as much recognition as Bugs Bunny. Lesson? Life isn’t always fair—deal with it. And I don’t kill anyone because my parents taught me they wouldn’t come back when they died like the coyote always did when he fell off a cliff. It’s not the cartoon, it’s the lesson that counts.