Where Have All the Cartoons Gone?

I have an two year old son, and years from now when he is getting ready for school or just getting home from school, I wonder what will he will be watching? In the good old days, I woke up to Gobots, the poor man’s Transformers and as I got a little older came home to the original iteration of Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Let me state now that I still watch cartoons, so much like the 45 year old who tries to tell his kids that he still listens to the popular music of the time, I am trying to hold on as long as I can.

With my son turning two we are starting to get beyond just Sesame Street and moving on to other more “simply for fun” cartoons along with the standard educational stuff. I have got to tell you, it is pretty bleak out there. Dora the Explorer and Diego can’t light a candle to He-man and She-ra. Don’t even get me started on the reboot of the TMNT and Transformers cartoon franchises.

The major issue that I see is the ever-widening gap between kids cartoons and adult cartoons. Easy there boys, I am talking about the difference between things like The Wonder Pets and the recently released movie Nine, a visually stunning tale from Tim Burton. (A quick side note, this movie sold me on how awesome Blu-ray players are, check it out.) The animation was fantastic and the story was able to keep up.

I believe the rift began to form in September of 1992, the dawn of Batman the Animated Series helped along by Bruce Timm. I was 13 and along with turning me onto comics for the rest of my life, the show was ground-breaking. The animation was almost like reading a noir-style novel and Batman’s presence alone, voiced by Kevin Conroy, was enough to hook me. Here’s the thing, I could have been 13 or 36 and it still would have been great. It brought Batman back to life. Once company execs realized they could start appealing to people with disposable income, the rift began.

By now the middle-ground cartoons are gone. We’ve got Bob the Builder on one end and Family Guy on the other. Stewie may be a baby, but I don’t want him talking to my son. I used to visit Best Buy every Tuesday for the new releases, but with the family bills I can’t show up every Tuesday any more. One Tuesday I can guarantee I will be there is when Marvel and DC release there new animated feature films. The Avengers, Wonder Woman, Doc Strange, they have all been good, but in no way can I watch them with the kids. They can be incredibly violent like the Wonder Woman release or just be way too dark like one of the Batman releases which would give some grown-ups nightmares. Don’t get me wrong, I have enjoyed all of them, but for kids, no way.

As I get older I realize one of the more enjoyable experiences is sitting around with the crew, having a few beers, and reminiscing. You talk about what you did when you were younger. We all grew up watching cartoons. I am just wondering if for my son, years from now will they argue about what cartoon was the best when they were all average.


  1. I have to tell you that I truly enjoy Phineas and Ferb on Disney. So many one-liners and obscure references that my kids don’t get, but absolutely make me sit down and watch any episode I can.

  2. When I was a kid, (I’m 36 now, so you do the math), every Saturday morning, I’d go down to the local A&P with my dad and we’d get donuts and milk.

    By the time we got back my brothers would be up and we’d all sit around and watch cartoons for hours in the morning earting donuts and drinking milk. This was back when it was the old-school Looney Tunes hour, and my goodness that is so nostalgic for me. It is still one of my most cherished memories as a kid.

    I don’t have kids, but I’ll bet you the cartoons now on Saturday mornings probably don’t have the same punch.

    After school as a teenager, it was Transformers, Thundercats, and GI Joe.

    Those were the days.

  3. I really liked your post because it made me think about how our generation often defines itself by the shows we watched when we were younger. Hence the popularity of Ghostbusters and Transformers T-shirts on 30 something guys and the fact that I own the Jem and the Holograms box set. I can’t see Dora the Explorer or Bob the Builder having that kind of staying power either.

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