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,
Like I’ve stated in my previous post, I’ve been watching a lot of Hey Arnold! lately. I must say that it does something to you. Watching that funny headed boy go out into the world and change it because of naive lack of cynicism invokes a strange sort of jealousy in me. I’m sure all of us like to think we were like Arnold at some point in our lives, and most of the time that was a younger part of our lives. But the fact of the matter is, is that the world changes you. Here is where Craig Bartlett’s genius comes into play; the thing about Arnold is that he faces the world and preserves that lack of cynicism even when the world is facing him down with the best that he’s got. I’d like to think that I was able to keep that, but I’ve caved in to the idea that the world will never have my best interests in mind and that the only way to survive is to not be lured in in any way by the sweet words of its con-art.
I had a conversation with a coworker and friend of mine today that really pushed this thought far enough for me to want to write a post about it. Let’s give her a code name, shall we…mostly because code names are fun. Let’s call her Hewbbie (because she’s a swell gal and really likes penguins. If you don’t see the connection, the name is from The Pebble and the Penguin). Anyway, Hubbie is really swell, and I especially appreciate her after tonight because I’ve realized that she is really the only person I know that stayed like Arnold!. I can’t really talk about the situation because it’s related to my work as a residential assistant, but I can tell you that she stuck up for a kid that I genuinely felt did not deserve it. It wasn’t because I had gotten to know him and though that he was rotten, it was because I had only seen him as causing trouble for me and a lot of my coworkers. He was the bad-guy to me and to have him use friendly conversation was his way of playing angles so that he could make it out of a situation on top. As a residential assistant, I’m still convinced that those are his motivations. However, Hewbbie had enough respect for him as a human soul to ask questions that look at his problems as a chance to get to deeper things. Sure he is doing bad things, but because she is there as a resource for these kids, she seriously takes it upon herself to look at them as more than just an agent of obstacles.
At first I was upset, because I saw her choice as a threat to my labeling myself as a decent residential assistant. But I know Hewbbie well to where I couldn’t see her saying those things to make herself look better. She means what she says. I’m not sure there is a way to communicate how sorry I am for disappointing her. As a Christian, I know we are supposed to lead loving lives that are there for people in a way that is not judgmental. And I know that my decision to let the world affect me in this way was one that has hindered my ability to be an Arnold! in a world of Helgas. I want to change that, because I know that, like Arnold! and many biblical figures, I will face a lot of hardship for it, but believe it to be worth while if even just one person was positively influenced by my choice to sincerely help.
Thank you Christ, Hewbbie, and Craig Bartlett (and so many more),