Sep 22, 2011

Cartoon Capers

There has been a bit about cartoons in the "news" (my Twitter stream) lately.
A study found that Sponge Bob Square Pants could lower kids' concentration after watching it, and Scooby Doo was named "the most active and healthiest" kids' cartoon.
All that running away from innkeepers-dressed-as-mummies, it seems.

Image from Cartoon Clipart

This got me thinking about cartoons. Which ones are good and which ones suck? Are they bad for kids? Can they ever be good for kids?

People have always been suspicious of cartoons and comics. Limited exposure for children has always been deemed best.

I quite like cartoons. I think they are great entertainment for kids and they are more irreverant than any other kids' shows so they can be a bit freer and wilder (and engaging for young minds who love to belong to a no-adults club).

That said, there are some shockers that I hate, and I don't let my kids watch cartoons all day.

But one of my absolute favourite things is when the kids and I get up on a Saturday morning, put on the TV and they watch cartoons while I read or play on my laptop. I'll come and join them on the couch for Ben 10, Symbionic Titans, My Gym Partner's a Monkey, and other select quality fare.

I can't stand LazyTown - too preachy - but the kids like it. I'm bored by Batman which they love, but we all like The Secret Saturdays (crime fighting blended family).

When the kids were smaller, they loved Little Einsteins (which A. called 'Little Stones'), Dora The Explorer, and Charlie and Lola. They are still weirdly entranced by In the Night Garden.

Currently, they are obsessed with Scooby Doo. For awhile I was bewildered by this - to me Scooby Doo is pretty silly, the animation is very average, the female characters are unfairly depicted, and it is so freaking predictable! (It's the caretaker / innkeeper / janitor guy. Every. Single. Time!)

But then I remembered my own childhood, and what was mine and my sister's favourite cartoon? Yes, Scooby Doo. Oh, we would happily watch Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and the like, but I still remember the buzz of excitement when one of our A-list best-quality favourites came on: that feeling was reserved for Scooby Doo, The Flintstones (and to a lesser extent The Jetsons), and Josie and the Pussycats.

My kids are not into most of the old cartoons that we used to watch, and I don't blame them. Most of them are terrible. The new cartoons are cooler, with better animation and more interesting storylines, or they are fast-paced crazy stuff like Sponge Bob that are probably funnier for adults than little kids.

I am pretty appalled that my kids love The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. I loved it as a kid, but watching it now it is dire. I am glad they don't like The Flintstones. They find it 'boring' which is good - clearly they see nothing in it to relate to. Watching it now it is like watching a film of a (thankfully) lost world, its (narrow, sexist) lifestyle seems so remote.

I gag a little at things like Strawberry Shortcake, with so much emphasis on 'girly' pursuits and its saccharine lessons on friendship. But kids and parents don't always like the same stuff, and that's as it ever was.

For instance, I laughed myself stupid watching The Road Runner Movie a few months ago and my kids barely cracked a smile. They will watch Bugs Bunny, Sylvester and Daffy Duck, but they don't really get those cartoons.

So here is what my five-year-old girls love at the moment:
    • Scooby Doo
    • Batman
    • Ben 10
    • Stoked
    • Sally Bollywood
    • Symbionic Titans
    • Codename: Kids Next Door
    • Sponge Bob Square Pants
    • The Secret Saturdays
    • The Simpsons
    • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop
    • My Gym Partner's a Monkey
    • Curious George
    • The Powerpuff Girls
    • Sea Princesses
    • Strawberry Shortcake

Here is what I used to love as a kid:
    • Scooby Doo
    • The Flintstones
    • The Jetsons
    • Josie and the Pussycats
    • Rocky and Bullwinkle
    • George of the Jungle
    • Yogi Bear
    • Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies: Bugs Bunny / Tom and Jerry / Sylvester and Tweetie ("Hello, Breakfasth!") / Speedy Gonzales ("I like heem. He's seelly")
    • Top Cat
    • Quick Draw McGraw
    • Hong Kong Fooey
    • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop / The Laff Olympics
    • The Wonder Twins ("Wonder twin power, activate!")
    • Kimba the White Lion
I couldn't watch most of these now, but they were great at the time. And I have fond memories of my parents sometimes watching and laughing along with us (Dad's favourites were Laff Olympics, Huckleberry Hound, and Foghorn Leghorn; Mum liked Sylvester, Daffy Duck and Donald Duck).

Good times!

What about you? Do you like cartoons?
Do you let your kids watch them?
Which ones?


  1. I'm a bit unusual in that even as a kid I didn't like cartoons that much,. 'Live action' was more my thing - HR Puffenstuf, The Banana Splits, Sesame Street and any lame sitcom that my parents allowed me to watch.

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  3. Kath,
    Hmm, we are sort of opposites - I've never really been into the live action stuff, HR PuffnStuff freaked me out! Loved Sesame Street though. Just realised I called Lazy Town a cartoon when it is actually live action.

    Thanks! Scooby appears to be timeless!

  4. I've always found Sponge Bob Square Pants a bit too graphic for kids, but my sons simply love it.

  5. My girls like Spongebob too though it goes right over their heads. They love super hero stuff at the moment, even if it has no girls in it. Surprising!



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