Monday, October 30, 2006

Glenn McDonald takes on today's children's cartoons for PopMatters.

One week when McDonald and his four-year-old son took sick and spent days in front of TV, McDonald was surprised to find television has changed since he was a child: "The central message[of McDonald's cartoons] appeared to be that the world was a fun, colorful and wacky place, if remarkably violent. A land where dynamite and anvils were cheap and plentiful. "

Well, we all know times have changed. Cartoons are now computer generated and brighter than they were 30 years ago. But, McDonald has discovered, they're also about nothing. Here's my favorite passage from the article

"The kids shows today are kind, gentle, well-intentioned, and completely unnerving. Not only is there no violence—at all—there’s barely any conflict. It’s all hugging and sharing and learning.

The worst offender by far is an animated cartoon on PBS—out of Canada, significantly—called Caillou. Calliou is a bald-headed four-year-old who looks and acts like Charlie Brown, albeit oversedated with Ritalin meds. Here, truly, is a show about nothing. Forget Seinfeld. Literally nothing happens in these stories. Caillou just hugs and shares and learns, episode after glacially-paced episode, forever."

I encourage you to head on over to PopMatters and read the whole article. It's very funny and very true.*


*I have to admit, I was alone in never liking the classic cartoons either. I think I've only ever liked two cartoon shows, both badly drawn--Scooby Doo and Schoolhouse Rock.