When the ‘toons get cruel

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Sonya Fladun
Sonya Fladun
REMEMBER those Saturday mornings of long ago, curled up on the couch in your PJs munching a bowl of cereal as you watched your favourite TV cartoons?

I loved the ‘toons when I was a kid: Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, Rocky and Bullwinkle, the Flintstones, the Jetsons, and Scooby Doo.

Lately, I’ve been revisiting the ‘toons. Gone are the days when my children were happy with very young kids’ viewing: Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues or the gorgeous Bear in the Big Blue House. If I’m honest, I’m not at all sad to see the end of the Wiggles, and both of my kids, one aged nine, the other six, are now into kids’ cartoons. Some of my old favourites are still running, at least on pay TV; but I’ve also discovered that the new generation of cartoon entertainment is not what it was.

In my day, cartoons were largely populated by wise-cracking rabbits and ducks and never really left the realm of fantasy. But things are different. Many contemporary cartoons seem to portray real nastiness, selfishness, venal and grasping behaviour that, as a parent, you really wouldn’t want your child to emulate or follow.

I’ve sat down with my kids and watched contemporary cartoons screening in the mornings and afternoons such as “Total Drama Island”, the “Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy” and the “Regular Show’s” “Mordecai and Rigby”.

I wasn’t impressed. “Total Drama Island”, for example, is a spoof of those popular reality shows such as “Survivor”. It’s not without humour, but it’s all about backstabbing, bitchiness, greed and cruel stereotypes. That’s fine for me because I love satire and black humour. But I’m not sure I want my kids to watch this sort of stuff; their brains are yet to develop a good filtration system and I don’t want them absorbing too much of this and treating others in such uncaring, anti-social ways.

Not all contemporary kids’ cartoons are bad or inappropriate. There is lots of good, wickedly funny stuff. But a lot of what is being screened for quite young kids is probably more appropriate for teenagers and young adults.

But it’s best to have a look for yourself. Don’t presume that what’s screening in so-called “kids’ viewing” times is really appropriate.
And remember that some of the old classics are still fresh for each new generation; the antics of the Roadrunner and the Coyote had my kids rolling on the floor laughing.

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