Friday, August 3, 2012
On the State of the Cartoon
Cartoons, we all grew up with them, many of us still watch them. (I do!) I'm 16, and over these past few years I've noticed something....cartoons are getting worse and worse. See, I'm something of a 90's kid. I grew up with all those Nick shows. Now, for people my age, here's a trip down nostalgic lane. Remember Rugrats?
Who can forget Tommy?
Can't forget Godzilla, I mean Reptar.
How about Hey Arnold?
Now you may have to be a bit older to recognize Doug.
Ah, those were the days. There are many others, such as CatDog, but the ones above I hold to a higher degree. Today, at age 16, I can still watch these and be entertained. Nostalgia is part of the reason of course, but the main thing about these old cartoons is that they had heart. There was heart put into the stories, often a moral was found. They were also made so that parents could be entertained while watching it with their kids. They also were respectable shows. Take Arnold from Hey Arnold for example, he's a kid all parents want their's to be like. A good friend, respectable of elders, a good student, and stands up for what's right. That's what kids were exposed to on a daily basis, back in my day. (Always wanted to say that.) Today however, things have quite changed. The 'thing' that is 'in,' is for main characters to rebel against their parents when they're not around, to do rebellious things. You ever hear of this cartoon called The Amazing World of Gumball? It airs on Cartoon Network currently.
Ignoring the off-putting animation for a second, the main character is this 12 year old boy named Gumball. Unlike Arnold, he's completely disobedient, constantly does things against what his parents want, and is the persona that a parent does not want their kid to be like. Never mind the fact the that the father in the show is portrayed as a complete idiotic fool. (You'll have to sit through an episode to see what I'm talking about.) It's not just the main characters, it's in the writing. The writing in today's cartoons have just gotten sillier and mindless. Now I know what you're going to tell me, they're just kids...they just need something to watch, right? Well...look again at Rugrats or Hey Arnold, or CatDog, those shows have strong writing. How can I tell? At my age, when I'm not the targeted demographic, if I'm engaged to the story, then that's how I know the writing is smart. Not today. Take Fanboy and Chum Chum for example. The writing, even for a kids show, is not good at all. It's a kids show, yes, but if the 90's and early 2000's could have strong writing, there's no reason why the majority of today's cartoons can't. Now for a cartoon we all grew up with....Spongebob!
C'mon, I know Spongebob, you know Spongebob, your mom knows Spongebob, and probably even your cat has seen a few episodes. I've seen the first three seasons probably a thousand times growing up, I recognize any one of those episodes instantly. I don't know if you've noticed, but after the movie came out, the show started going downhill. What I mean by that is the stories started becoming more mindless and Spongebob kept getting dumber and dumber. While browsing the TV not too long ago, me and my mom decided to watch it for old time's sake. We saw a newer episode and after that, the same thing was on our minds, "That was the biggest dud ever." The characters seemed to have lost all maturity they had in the past. Spongebob believe it or not in the earlier episodes was quite smart with a less squeaky voice and was capable of going whole episodes without crying and was a fun focus. Now he's borderline laughable, a little too obsessive with Squidward, and has become the definition of immature, he wasn't like that in the earlier episodes. Instead of getting older, he has seemingly gotten younger. Take Mr. Krabs for example, all they play upon now his love for money, he's not even close to being a respectable boss anymore. (Not that he ever truly was, but in the earlier episodes he actually acted like a respectable boss on occasion.) Now for my personal favorite example. *Drum roll*
Ahhhh, this show was what shaped me into a Spider-Man fan. I remember when they use to air the marathons on Saturday mornings. I watch it to this day, it's still the definitive Spidey show. It featured an adult Peter Parker, it was story-driven as opposed to action-driven, and talking as a Spidey fan for a second, they got most, if not all the character portrayals right. All in all, a great cartoon. Fast forward over ten years later and we're introduced to Ultimate Spider-Man. I'm not sure of you've noticed, but these days the shows favor a high school Peter over an adult one. In the latest show, as opposed to being story driven with amazing writing, it's more action/comedy driven. High school Peter is everything The Animated Series' one isn't. He's immature and isn't the respectable hero he should be. This version doesn't match the early 616 version, or even his Ultimate comic counterpart, he's been morphed into an immature kid to 'appease' today's audience, since apparently that's what kids today find entertaining. Forget about the mature, respectable main character, that barely exists anymore in any cartoon today.
Compare the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to the upcoming one on Nick. Now obviously it isn't fair to compare to something that isn't even out yet, but let's look at it for example. The new show is going to focus a lot on the 'teenage aspect' of the show. April has been turned into a teen, how convnient. The 2003 show relied on its surprisingly deep stories (even got a little PGish violent sometimes) and was just all around a great show. The upcoming one looks to be completely young-centric where older people will just cringe at it often. I will hold up on my bashing article until I see it of course. Have you heard about the upcoming Pac Man show? Turns out the title character is a teen, so it really should be called Pac-Teen. Instead of focusing on the Pac Man universe established in the Pac Man World game series, the show looks to be its own thing, portraying the title character as a pitiful and juvenile version of the chomper. An origin story isn't bad, but does it have to have the title character in such a manner? Now this is not to say that all cartoons today is bad. There are gems out there such as The Looney Tunes Show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, (hey the show is nice) Young Justice, Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Transformers Prime, Monsuno, but the bad are outweighing the good. Just turn on the TV to Cartoon Network at a random time during the week to see what I'm talking about. It should be interesting to see where we'll be in ten years from now, will cartoons become smart again or continue to get mindless and mindless? I'll be watching, then in ten years I'll make a post about on either its improvement or how cartoons are doomed.