Animators Work on Stages

There’s a difference between cartoons now and the cartoons from yesterday, and it ain’t just the fact that they’re different cartoons for all you wise crackers out there…Cartoons today don’t got heart.

I’m not just saying this for sentimental’s sake. It’s true, and I know the differences. These differences are in the production.

I’ve been watching a lot of Hey Arnold! lately, revisiting it in all it’s splendor. And, while doing some research on the music so that I could write a competent fan letter to Jim Lang, I found an interview where he stated that he was also into theatre. Then it hit me…cartoons today don’t act. Their more like robots complete with programmed charm. You look into the hearts of a show like Adventure Time or Regular Show (two of the rare gems in today’s cartoon biz) and you see comedy for comedy’s sake. A gag reel of cleaver proportions. And, yes, I’m admitting that I really like these shows, but there’s something different. I wouldn’t be so upset about losing something like Hey Arnold! or Rugrats if I could see that what was in them is now in today’s generation of cartoons.

I have a challenge for you. Watch an episode of something out there today and then something from the 90’s. Even the sh*ttiest of cartoons from that era (I loved them, also) like Rocko’s Modern Life or Cow and Chicken had art to them, and it was fantastic. I revisit them and I feel as though they offered me something, the tale of a studio filled with weirdos out to make a meager living telling the stories they wanted to tell through the characters, the worlds, and the music that they wanted to tell them through. It was bizarre and almost frightening at times but what they were really doing was making a production of it all. Once you’ve sat through one of these episodes turn to a more modern cartoon. Something like the aforementioned cartoons, other options might be My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic or The Misadventures of Flapjack. I’ll let you decide the differences yourself, but some aestheticly common features of the 21st century cartoons include ultra clean and clear-cut colors, unnatural or non-organic looking features and actions, and an abundant use of computer generated tidbits of animation. Please note that I do not find these to be components for create all things blasphemous to cartoons, but I point them out so that you can look past them and take note of the content and behavior of the figures within the span of the episode. Creative differences are good, it’s just a matter of comparison.

It may not make sense in the writing to end with that, but I really have to. I started this thought a while back and didn’t have time to get back to it until today. I hope you still get something from it. Maybe I’ll come back to it some time so that you can get more.

Thanks again for your love,

Sicily Marino

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