Yeah, Everyone’s on Drugs, all the TimePosted: April 2, 2013
[Next time you run out of milk and want to have some cereal, just pour applesauce in there instead. It’s not nearly the same, but it’s an option if you have applesauce.]
It’s finally time to tackle one of the issues closest to my heart—that’s right, kids’ cartoons and trying to enjoy both the old and the new. I may be twenty-one years old (almost twenty-two), but ten years ago I was already having my mid-life crisis in dog-years, so I don’t want to hear your age-related arguments about “being too old” to watch cartoons. And one day, I hope to have kids, and I sure as shrimp don’t want to be out of the loop when they get into that phase. So I stay tuned in because I still like them and have enough free time to do so. Naturally, that leads to me trying to watch them in the company of people who aren’t as familiar as I am—people, presumably, who think they’re too old or mature for that kind of stuff. In that case, someone inevitably brings up one of my least favorite comments: “Man, cartoons are so weird these days. These writers are clearly on drugs. They were so much better when we were younger, right, Ryan?” (For a mention of other entertainment-related comments that bother me, read my last post, specifically, about professional wrestling).
Now before I go on with the deconstruction of that criticism, this illustrates an important, more general point worth making. Obviously the world around us changes as we get older, but we of course change as we get older, too. When you’re a little kid, you read stories about monsters under your bed ignorantly attempting to put on clothes and pigs running around building houses.
Combine that with cartoons and neon-colored food, and you’re practically bathing in a kiddie pool of imagination. Your brain is so overloaded with absurdity that sex references in your kids show can’t possibly get through to you as being creepy or “off” (plus you just didn’t know about that stuff yet). Of course when you get older, people try to force reality down your throat and up your ass simultaneously, so anything colorful or fantastical is too sweet for your big boy taste buds.
OK, now for some explanation of why I believe current cartoons aren’t any weirder than they were ten or fifteen years ago, and if writers are on drugs now, they were definitely snortin’ the same stuff back then, too. Overall, cartoons were always about being unrealistic and silly while containing a heavy dose of social commentary lurking in the background. So to think that cartoons are more risqué than back in the day is wrong. Go back to the very beginning (not counting Steamboat Willie): if you can picture all the cross-dressing and lipstick marks in the Looney Tunes cartoons, you probably know what I mean…not to mention the very explicit gun, bomb, and piano-related violence.
Or to go with something that hits a bit closer to home, consider this video as anecdotal evidence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=xbNEhezUfVE#! . If you take out Adventure Time and Spongebob, those are all clips from shows we would have watched as little kids. Admittedly, not everyone would argue that cartoons never had sexual content or material that was meant to make the parents chuckle, but I didn’t want to leave that unattended.
The more common issue I hear is that cartoons have gotten weirder in a more broad sense—that they have outlandish premises or ridiculous animation. Now keep in mind I don’t have any problems with the old shows I’m using as examples; I just want to defend some of the newer shows that I really find enjoyable. Three of my favorite cartoons—Spongebob Squarepants, Regular Show, and Adventure Time—come under heavy fire for being silly, stupid, and disgusting. Yet the same people who rag on them would talk about how great Aaahh!!! Real Monsters or Ren and Stimpy was.
I understand that some people have their innate nostalgic sense of loyalty to the cartoons that were bumping when they were younger, but I feel like there’s no need to trash the new stuff. It’s not like newer cartoons are threatening the classics or stealing airtime—the reason those shows aren’t on anymore is because people you stopped watching them. Using the excuse that they’re not on air anymore because they’re old is nonsense; not even Bill Cosby could keep Looney Tunes off TV. Look, you don’t have to follow Adventure Time or Spongebob; I get it if you think they’re stupid, because they are stupid. I just happen to still find “stupid” funny these days. Just understand that they’re fundamentally similar to what was around in the 90s. As Method Man once said, “Before you play the game know the rules//Cuz still ain’t nothing changed but the jewels.” All cartoons are gems of an idea; they’re just coming in different shapes, sizes, and colors now.
Bugs Bunny: http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/node/21928?page=1227
Krumm (left): http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/51244/aaahh-real-monsters-season-one/
Adventure Time (right): http://adventuretime.wikia.com/wiki/Talk:Nightosphere_(location)