Journal - 29 September 2000: New Cartoons for Kids Suck

"Ok, get this! 'Spongebob Squarepants!' He's a happy cubic sponge in the ocean. Here's this kicker: he wears square pants! Can you believe it? Can you?" Anyone TV executive who would listen to a pitch similar to that and give it the OK should not be mating with other human beings. Have you flipped on the TV lately? That is an actual show! Spongebob Squarepants. Dear God! I realize I am over-invoking this historical event, but we sent a man to the moon. A human being landed on the moon as a result of our actions. Can't we come up with some good children's cartoons?

Back in my day, we had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That show had some class. It touched on several important issues and archetypes that kids don't come into contact with today. From the role of genetic engineering to the nature of honor and conflict, TMNT, as it came to be known, presented real social issues. Modern children's shows of the same genre do away with this important quality factor. Street Sharks was virtually identical, except instead of pondering the heroes' role in a society that shuns them; they just hung out in a crap-hole waiting from crime to occur. That simply does not make sense. Furthermore, instead of the honorable combat practiced by the turtles, these shark-headed hooligans do little more than spot their target and senseless violence ensues.

However, other shows have seen cause to work in the opposite direction by added sickeningly unrealistic moral values to every episode. This is the case with the defiler of young minds, the Power Rangers. In the beginning scene, one of these fighters spots a thief and chases him on foot for several minutes, only to lose him in a crowd. Throughout this chase, the thief performs several actions that endanger the life of his pursuer and innocents around him. However, he is vindicated in the last scene when we find he is giving some of the fruit he took to the homeless. Is this the lesson we want to disburse? It is permissible to steal at all costs, even human life, if you give some to a worthy cause? If that's the case, why don't I bludgeon my suitemates into unconsciousness, take their computers and other goodies, and give half of it to a local school. I benefit, the school benefits, so all ends well? Not true.

Please do not misunderstand. I do not support censorship of any kind for any reason other than national security (preventing the press's broadcast of military attack plans). Thus, I do not propose regulating such inane idiocy. This treatise is more of a question: why? Why is there such a vacuum of intelligence in the television industry as a whole? The answer to this question, I'm afraid, eludes me.


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