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What the frell is this?!

Boohbah: Worse than Teletubbies?

I report; you deride.

What the trask has happened to American children's TV? Just by surfing channels and watching TV commercials, I can feel the bile rise in my throat.

zengeneral, masaga, and I just had a discussion about the sad state of cartoons. Now, as you can imagine, it started with a discussion of Jem (a Josie and the Pussycats knock-off) and how, as pre-teen boys (well, I was 12) we could be convinced to sit through 7 minutes of a girl-band-a-la-Barbie cartoon to get to 7 minutes of numbingly violent Inhumanoids. Evil scientists having the living flesh eaten from their bones by biocontaminant sludge, then being reanimated by a 100' demonic creature that turned random soldiers and workers into giant undead huorns with his ichor! A master demon imprisoned at the core of the earth, who escaped to the surface to wreak the apocalyptic return of the Elder Days... ahh, good times, good times.

The discussion turned briefly to The Transformers, and how the organic phase made Optimus Prime into a monkey (for the sheer gratuity of calling him Optimus Primal, as far as I could tell from the 20 seconds I looked at that abomination). Then I raised the spectre of Barney and how apparently de-anthropomorphization of cartoon beings is in vogue. First a purple dinosaur; then semi-humanoid kewpie doll-faced creatures with tuner antennae on their heads; and now semisentient dancing blobs. I told the students that I had not believed autism an inducible condition until I saw the above foray to new depths of mindless escapism. It's one thing to be politically sensitive or even "politically correct"; it's quite another to divorce our children's learning minds from any rational awareness of human society or reality.
Children are a perpetual, self-renewing underclass, helpless to escape from the decisions of adults until they become adults themselves.
    -Orson Scott Card, Introduction to Ender's Game

Take animated series for older kids as an example. Whereas GI Joe used to be a literate, gripping drama in animated form, with a few intelligent gay characters (e.g., COBRA Commander), I hear tell that everyone is now a caricature of his or her old self. Everyone who's even on the show: apparently Serpentor and Sgt. Slaughter are gone. Or perhaps they have been renamed to "The Herpetic-American Autocrat" and "Sgt. Collateral Damage"? The kind of rot-your-brain bad science and implausible strategy and tactical outcomes that we stayed glued to the little 17" TV set for is just... gone. I loved that show! I learned the word fraternization from that show when I was 12!

GI Joe was not the only animated television show for children that told it like it was, and did not pussyfoot around real issues. The first on-screen dramatic deaths I ever saw were on Star Blazers (anyone know the Japanese name of this weekday morning anime?) and Speed Racer (a redeemed criminal who asked Racer X to relate his living will as an organ donor). As O. Sharp, author of the excellent He-Man Page, notes:
... the show didn't stay typical for long. The scriptwriters for the series, most notably Paul Dini, took the simple characters and began exploring them as people... often with surprising results. Prince Adam begins to worry that his father, King Randor, has more respect for He-Man than for him. "More than anything, I want to give up that disguise and make my father proud of me," he says in one episode. Later on he renounces He-Man's powers at a critical moment, with tragic results. In another episode Orko, the comic relief for the show, stops joking long enough to question his own usefulness... and finding himself to be basically unimportant, he tearfully leaves the kingdom. In "The Dragon's Gift", He-Man strikes a bargain with a dragon to save a friend's life... but discovers later that his side of the bargain is to take the life of another. And so on.

Perhaps the most extraordinary of these was "Teela's Quest", where Teela - Captain of the Royal Guards, and adopted daughter of Man-at-Arms - despairs of her adoption, and resolves to discover who her true mother is... regardless of the personal cost.

Then you have the undisclosed transgression that the nameless Duke in Gummi Bears committed against his king.
(I speculated that he was Gavan's father. As far as transgressions go, however, he could well have been Calla's father. Darth Vader or Lancelot du Lac, take your pick.)

Real life, people. That's what I'm talking about.

zengeneral: This is why I'm glad I'm not having kids.
masaga: If and when I do, I'm keeping them in X-Men, Spider-Man, and Gargoyles.
banazir: ... that's right. Go-Bots, Transformers, maybe a little of The Tick.

That's it. A computer, BitTorrent/Azureus, reruns of Gummi Bears and He-Man (ETA: and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, maybe a little Square One TV and The Electric Company) - they'll never know it's not the late 1980s any more.




Edit, 12:35 CST: Chinese-American historical author Iris Chang found dead, apparent suicide (seen in asian_american)
Iris Chang, a graduate of the University of Illinois and Johns Hopkins University, was the author of The Rape of Nanking an acclaimed book on the Nanjing Massacre and its role in the Sino-Japanese War and the post-invasion holocaust in China.

--
Banazir

Comments

( 80 comments — Leave a comment )
myng_rabbyt
Nov. 11th, 2004 09:50 am (UTC)
If you stay away from the "educational" shows, you're alright. Encourage your children to watch "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" and reruns of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. They'll be fine.

This modern programming is so...clean. So...PC. It's awful, because they world isn't clean or PC. Sesame Street shows that, but many shows don't. Parents are trying to "protect" their kids. From what? Depends on your biases, religion, etc., etc.

As for kids these days, the biggest problem I have with them is that they are spoiled rotten, the keyword being rotten. They act as though the world owes them everything, because their parents have given them everything. They want rules bent for them, because their parents have told them they can do whatever they want (and have let them get away with everything). DISCIPLINE! These little bastards need DISCIPLINE! RAWR! */rant*
chaosinaskirt
Nov. 11th, 2004 10:23 am (UTC)
just get rid of the tele. or at least cable. and the intarweb. there's better ways to keep kids amused than the animated box.
(no subject) - myng_rabbyt - Nov. 11th, 2004 11:11 am (UTC) - Expand
Well, true - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 12:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Well, true - gondhir - Nov. 11th, 2004 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Boohbah on the Rocks - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 06:31 pm (UTC)
If you stay away from the "educational" shows, you're alright. Encourage your children to watch "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" and reruns of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. They'll be fine.
Will do.
You know I can still change my shoes really quickly? With a little toss?
That is a legacy.

This modern programming is so...clean. So...PC. It's awful, because they world isn't clean or PC. Sesame Street shows that, but many shows don't. Parents are trying to "protect" their kids. From what? Depends on your biases, religion, etc., etc.
God, yes. IMHO, asexuality can sometimes warp children's sexual identity even more than obliquely sexualized themes. I haven't read anything about this, but I'd venture a guess that making every character technicolor or "just the right shade of light brown as to be any race" (as masaga put it) could mess with ethnic identity and dignity as well.

As for kids these days, the biggest problem I have with them is that they are spoiled rotten, the keyword being rotten. They act as though the world owes them everything, because their parents have given them everything. They want rules bent for them, because their parents have told them they can do whatever they want (and have let them get away with everything). DISCIPLINE! These little bastards need DISCIPLINE! RAWR! */rant*
You said it!

KIDS TODAY!

--
Banazir
(no subject) - myng_rabbyt - Nov. 12th, 2004 05:58 am (UTC) - Expand
Diversity - banazir - Nov. 16th, 2004 11:29 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Diversity - myng_rabbyt - Nov. 17th, 2004 06:39 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Diversity - banazir - Nov. 21st, 2004 07:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - myng_rabbyt - Nov. 15th, 2004 07:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Lip service - banazir - Nov. 16th, 2004 11:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Lip service - myng_rabbyt - Nov. 17th, 2004 06:41 am (UTC) - Expand
Changing people's hearts - banazir - Nov. 17th, 2004 07:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Changing people's hearts - myng_rabbyt - Nov. 17th, 2004 10:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Changing people's hearts - banazir - Nov. 21st, 2004 07:08 am (UTC) - Expand
chaosinaskirt
Nov. 11th, 2004 10:42 am (UTC)
i had written out a rant about tv here and how there's better things to do with their time to keep them amused and busy and thinking than tv - and that i should know, because while my parents had a tv, we only had air channels and the only two channels that came in *really* well were pbs and the channel with she-ra and he-man and smurfs...

but then firefox decided to close shop and error up, so i'll just leave it with that...
thanatos_kalos
Nov. 11th, 2004 11:50 am (UTC)
It shouldn't surprise anyone that B5's JMS wrote for the old He-Man series.

And I totally agree about how dumbed-down cartoons have gotten. I can't stand most of them...
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 12:09 pm (UTC)
Surprised despite myelf
It shouldn't surprise anyone that B5's JMS wrote for the old He-Man series.
Context is everything, and getting there is half the fun. -JMS

The highest compliment I know to pay Joss is that he is the new JMS.
(Which is not to say that he doesn't have a fabulous authorial style all his own; but the consummate storyteller, who isn't reluctant to take a little risk to reward the audience for its attention - that is something both writer-directors have in common.)

And I totally agree about how dumbed-down cartoons have gotten.
I can't stand most of them...

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. (Quoted on the old G.I. Joe.)
And knowing is half the battle. (Originated on the old G.I. Joe.)

--
Banazir
(no subject) - gondhir - Nov. 11th, 2004 01:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Be Vigilant - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 01:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
sui_degeneris
Nov. 11th, 2004 12:03 pm (UTC)
Star Raiders?
That seems to be a video game.

I recall watching Star Blazers, though.

And the Japanese title for that seems to be Uchuu Senkan Yamato ("Space Battleship (or Cruiser) Yamato")

http://www.desslok.com/
http://www.absoluteanime.com/star_blazers/

Drat. Now I've got an annoying snippet of the theme song running through my head. Ah well, could be worse. Could be the Smurf theme! ;-)

/me starts humming the theme from Herman and Catnip....
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 12:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Star Raiders?
Thank you!

::blush:: Showing my t***** eligiblity there. ;-)

Drat. Now I've got an annoying snippet of the theme song running through my head.
# Ooooooooouuuur staaaaaaaar blaaazeers... #

Ah well, could be worse. Could be the Smurf theme! ;-)
# La LA la la-la-la
LA la la-la-laaa... #

/me starts humming the theme from Herman and Catnip....
# Ch-ch-ch-Chip and Dale's
Rescue RanGERS! #

Now there was a good trilogy: C&D-RR (yesh, I had a bit of a crush on Gadget... hey, look at it this way: she was the Kaylee of Disney!), DuckTales, and TaleSpin.

TaleSpin, there's another good cartoon with an RL theme: single motherhood! I don't see ANY relation between freaky sun baby and RL.

--
Banazir
Re: Star Raiders? - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 03:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Thundarr the Barbarian - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thundarr the Barbarian - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thundarr the Barbarian - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 09:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Star Raiders? - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
nobuddy69
Nov. 11th, 2004 01:00 pm (UTC)
Awwww, poor Merkians...
You never could and never will be able to enjoy the high quality Eastern Block children's program!!

They were the BEST!! Alas, now all gone...
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC)
Examples?
Describe, please.

--
Banazir
ROSVO-RUDOLF!!! - nobuddy69 - Nov. 11th, 2004 02:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
yahvah
Nov. 11th, 2004 01:31 pm (UTC)
This was a treat to read. :-) I have nothing to contribute other than my sheer amusement.
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 02:04 pm (UTC)
Glad to entertain...
... I hope you were also edified a teeny bit.
Now, to be fair: masteralida pointed out that the first comparison and depiction in my essay are not so much American children's TV as British imports. I stand by my claim, however: it's all gone downhill. We are producing lousy stuff too, even tossing the best parts of the old franchises.

--
Banazir
kaladhwen
Nov. 11th, 2004 03:32 pm (UTC)
Now wait a sec! If you're talking about the Jem I think you're talking about, that show was awesome!!!!!

There was a cliffhanger I never saw the second part of because school started the next day and our VCR record function was broken! Perhaps that's the reason the show has stayed with me throughout the years...but that show rocked! We have plenty of cartoons/comics/tv shows about men with double identities that go out and save the day, but not nearly enough with women (Jem, Wonder Woman and gee that's it). And Jem was not Barbie-like!!! They had personality!!

/steps off girl cartoon soapbox

Oh yeah, and My Little Pony was another awesome cartoon...my brothers could keep He-Man and Transformers.
burkhardt
Nov. 11th, 2004 03:36 pm (UTC)
She-ra (she had a double identity right?)
She-Ra was fairly good! - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 03:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: She-Ra was fairly good! - burkhardt - Nov. 11th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nine Princesses in Amber - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
In the FRIDGE? - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: In the FRIDGE? - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
Found SOME? - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 03:53 pm (UTC)
Voice of the Wee Gril
Now wait a sec! If you're talking about the Jem I think you're talking about, that show was awesome!!!!!
I make no judgement as to the quality of Jem! My remark above is confined to the fact that Jem was targeted at girls, Inhumanoids at boys, and I guess that Monster Truck show in between them was intended as a gender-neutral cartoon. (Though I suspect that the viewing demographic for Saturday midday cartoons was slightly skewed toward males, letting them justify a 2:1 male-to-female split, or close to it. I dunno. How do you women on my friends list like monster trucks?)

There was a cliffhanger I never saw the second part of because school started the next day and our VCR record function was broken! Perhaps that's the reason the show has stayed with me throughout the years...but that show rocked! We have plenty of cartoons/comics/tv shows about men with double identities that go out and save the day, but not nearly enough with women (Jem, Wonder Woman and gee that's it). And Jem was not Barbie-like!!! They had personality!!
Well, I'm comparing Jem then to Barbie now, and the Barbie of 2004 has become more of a risk-taker since dumping Ken for what's-his-face the Aussie, so it's not quite fair.

/steps off girl cartoon soapbox
Yes, and that was my point. The idea that there could be gender-targeted cartoons that most of us boys could watch to learn a little about you, and vice versa, seems to be lost in this time of completely sexless creatures aimed at not just 2-4 year olds, but (apparently) slower 5-8 year olds. I understand that some girls will like Inhumanoids and some boys will like Jem, but I see no reason that gender roles need to be abrogated entirely. Besides, IIRC, Jem's girl band was pretty cool.

Oh yeah, and My Little Pony was another awesome cartoon...my brothers could keep He-Man and Transformers.
I remember Care Bears, and Gummi Bears absolutely rocked; MLP, I can't say I ever sat through. Fraggle Rock. Thundarr the Barbarian, if anyone can think back that far.

--
Banazir
Re: Voice of the Wee Gril - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Voice of the Wee Gril - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Barbie has achieved world domination! - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
Queen Elizabeth I Barbie?! - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Barbie as Lady Macbeth - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Barbie as Lady Macbeth - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Voice of the Wee Gril - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 09:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Voice of the Wee Gril - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 10:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
From Barbie to Salamanders - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 06:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: From Barbie to Salamanders - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dark Side Bears - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
megruder
Nov. 11th, 2004 03:58 pm (UTC)
The oldies are still the best!
What I REALLY miss are the old cartoon shorts from MGM, Warner Brothers and Disney. I absolutely LOVE the Tex Avery characters and shorts, especially the __________ of the future. (fill in the blank with house, car, farm, etc.) Plus, the red-head was HOT!

The ones during WWII were really great AND they had relevent social commentary! What more can one ask for? I actually learned a lot about rations, meatless Tuesday (I think) and the depression while watching them. When I didn't understand a reference I would ask my grandma and get a two hour story about the Depression. Sorry I ask.

One used to be able to watch an hour's worth or more an evening, but no longer. To think, today's children will not know the antics of Screwy Squirrel.
chaosinaskirt
Nov. 11th, 2004 05:22 pm (UTC)
Re: The oldies are still the best!
most of what's on the tv is crap, but there are a few decent shows - but they're almost all on cable and/or they get cancelled after the first season because they don't perform against inane reality shows that the masses seem to adore.
Good shows on cable - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Good shows on cable - chaosinaskirt - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
megruder
Nov. 11th, 2004 04:21 pm (UTC)
Square One TV
Several of my friends in college determined that children who were exposed to Square One were brainwashed to pursue either a math degree or similar. I watched Square One religiously, mostly for Math Man and MathNet, and here I am in computer science.

By the way, if anyone knows how I can get ahold of Square One episodes, I have money!
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 04:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Square One TV
Several of my friends in college determined that children who were exposed to Square One were brainwashed to pursue either a math degree or similar.
'k, you wanna talk about hot... Monday was hot.

I watched Square One religiously, mostly for Math Man and MathNet, and here I am in computer science.
Same here!
Seeeeeee? NSF educational funding works!
Well, it used to.

By the way, if anyone knows how I can get ahold of Square One episodes, I have money!
I'd like to get in on that, too. Perhaps we could work out some kind of barter arrangement.

LOL... "will write fic for MathTV"... I think I have achieved tronkie Nirvana.

--
Banazir
Re: Square One TV - kaladhwen - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Kids Baffle - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 04:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
i can't believe i'm saying this... - chaosinaskirt - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Monday before Tuesday - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Monday before Tuesday - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Square One TV - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
ROFLOLOL! - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
chaosinaskirt
Nov. 11th, 2004 05:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Square One TV
semi-same here! i co-majored in math as a ugrad :D

but i've seen the light and am firmly in engineering land anymore

the twisted part is that i forced my brother to watch it with me, and now he's flip-flopping between math and cs.. our sister sees math as a necessary evil, but she seems firm in continuing the generational tradition (on my dad's side) of the women becoming engineers. (as of, right now, she's the only one that isn't one! and hilariously enough, we're all mechanical engineers, too, though we've got vastly different interests)
Hail the semi-sane! - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Hail the semi-sane! - megruder - Nov. 11th, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Math Jihad - banazir - Nov. 11th, 2004 10:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Math Jihad - megruder - Nov. 12th, 2004 09:33 am (UTC) - Expand
r3turn0
Nov. 11th, 2004 07:43 pm (UTC)
Childrens TV?
My four year old son, with a 3rd grade vocabulary, likes the Poke-mon cartoons and plays Legend of Zelda on Game Cube with an uncanny ability. He hates Barny and Tele-Tubbies ("That's a dumb cartoon", he claims) I am so proud of him. Personally, I grew up watching the Three Stooges, Superheroes (with SuperMan, BatMan, and the Flash), and Bugs Bunny RoadRunner Hour. I was four years old watching the relatively complex plots of the Three Stooges and even then I knew it was Satire. These politically correct programming-content engineers need to be fired and replaced with the ancestors of fearless and optimistic producers of yester-year...before they generate a gheneration of MUSH.
banazir
Nov. 11th, 2004 10:16 pm (UTC)
Good for you
Got thrown off by your capitalization of MUSH, but I know what you mean.

--
Banazir
(Anonymous)
May. 29th, 2006 12:55 pm (UTC)
i concur
( 80 comments — Leave a comment )

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