Cartoons take a slide backwards

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Who thought it would get worse?

If this were on Adult Swim, Bugs would be doing awful things with that knife. / Robin Tocker

If this were on Adult Swim, Bugs would be doing awful things with that knife. / Robin Tocker

Author: Elisabeth Sahlmueller

Many people have good memories of watching cartoons as kids. It’s been years since I’ve sat down and watched any, but maybe that’s a good thing. Turning on the TV now and seeing the shows aimed at young children is extremely disappointing. My brother and I spent hours watching cartoons as kids, and looking back, those shows seemed like they were in the Golden Age of Cartoons. Recent cartoons have significantly gone down in quality and can barely compare to the good cartoons of the past.

Everyone has their favourite cartoons, and when I was little, some of my favourites were Dragon Tales, Arthur, Little Bear, and Mr. Dressup. Back then, shows had substance, promoted good messages, had valuable lessons, and encouraged creativity. Some other childhood favourites of some U of R students include Sailor Moon, Spider-Man, Pokémon, Rescue Heroes, The Looney Tunes Show, and Scooby-Doo, because, as University of Regina student Devon Arbuthnot puts it, “there was just something about a dog with human qualities.”

Children’s cartoons today don’t seem to care about these same values. Crude humour and shows with little substance are today‘s norm. With so many horrible cartoons on TV, it’s hard to know where to start. Poko was on a couple of years ago, and it has no real substance or worthwhile plot. It was about a boy who drew things with his finger and often ran around with underwear on his head, along with his pet dog and monkey. It was strange because he was a little kid, and there were never any parents, so it seemed like he lived on his own. Almost Naked Animals should have never gotten on TV. It features various animals in their underwear with super annoying voices. How any child could watch more than a minute of that show is beyond me.

Also the length of cartoons has significantly decreased. What happened to a full half hour show? Now the average is about 15-20 minutes or shorter with commercials stuffed in. YTV is the worst with commercial breaks that seem to drag on for what feels like forever. Kids don’t need to be bombarded with advertising while watching a short cartoon; they should just be able to sit and enjoy the show.

One of the more recent problems children face today is high obesity rates, so it’s nice to see that some cartoons make an effort to promote physical activity. The Moblees is a great example of this. It involves a group of five insects who encounter a challenge and need to move in order to solve it. Within a couple of minutes into the show, you can tell it’s going to be cheesy, but it gets a thumbs up for encouraging kids to get up off their butts and move: something more kids need to do.

Artzooka! is another good show on TV, because it encourages kids to be creative, which not many shows, if any, do. After watching each show, kids can use their imagination and creativity to build various art projects from a silkscreen shirt, to a picture flipbook, and anything in between.

Cartoons have a powerful influence on children, and if they continually see the same themes of crude humour, inactivity, and other inappropriate behaviour, they are going to think it’s okay to act that way. Humour can be funny without being stupid or annoying. Don’t get me wrong, cartoons are awesome, but I think the creators need to spend more time thinking about the messages they promote. If it’s not a good message, then instead of pushing it forward, it should be scrapped, and people should revisit the drawing board.

Kids of our generation would likely not have watched half the garbage children’s shows that are on TV today, and I feel bad for kids now, because they don’t know what good cartoons really are.

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