Recently I have come to a stunning revelation — my kids have zero taste in cartoons.
On Friday, I took my oldest son, Ben, to the pediatrician for his latest round of immunizations. I was gearing up for a fight. At 5-years-old, he’s past the baby stage where we can just sneak them in. Ben knew he was getting a shot, and he wasn’t happy about it.
To distract him before the doctor came in, I started trying to get Ben to play a game where I asked him about the cartoon characters printed on his gown: which one was his favorite, what line did this one say all the time, what did this one eat … stuff like that.
Granted, it’s not much of a game, but he’s usually into it. Instead, he just stared at me.
At first I thought he might be too nervous to play along (after all, he is a kid who was about to get his shots) but it slowly began to dawn on me it wasn’t that he didn’t want to play our little game — he didn’t know who they were.
You guys, it was Looney Tunes … and he had no clue. They weren’t even obscure Looney Tunes guys like Marvin the Martian or Michigan J. Frog — it was freaking Bugs Bunny! Bugs, Sylvester, Tweety and the Tasmanian Devil.
I have failed my son.
I ended up explaining in great detail who each of the characters on his little gown were — and he was very entertained by my Sylvester impersonation: the lispish “suffering succotash” — but apparently the days of Foghorn Leghorn taking on the chicken-hawk are long gone. Kids today don’t care about the coyote and the roadrunner, they’re all about Spongebob Squarepants, Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig.
But still, it bothered me. How could my son not know who Tweety Bird was?
Well, since cable TV became a regular thing in American households, Saturday morning cartoons have become a thing of the past.
My kids don’t have to wait until the weekends for animated shows, there’s entire networks dedicated to them now. Want to see Mickey Mouse? Well, just turn on the Disney channel. Done.
Later, when we returned home, I amazed him further by pulling up old YouTube videos of classic episodes. But as I sat there watching them with him, something else occurred to me: some of these old cartoons are pretty messed up.
Ben and I were sitting there — watching Bugs and Daffy square off on whether it was “duck season!” or “rabbit season!” — and what happens? Elmer Fudd comes up, reads the sign and shoots Daffy point blank, in the face. With a double-barrel shotgun.
What the … ?
Daffy of course takes it all in stride: He just walks over, picks his bill up off the ground and puts it back on — before it happens again.
That poor duck was shot no less than five times that episode.
In another short, a flood washes Bugs into the lair of an evil scientist who needs a “living brain” for his giant robot. After chasing Bugs around for a while, the scientist throws an axe at his head, which misses and shatters a big bottle of ether.
Bugs and the evil scientist, trapped in a room with the ether fumes, proceed to get so high they start giggling and floating around the castle. Bugs eventually passes out on a raft and ends up back in his rabbit hole where he wakes up and assumed it was all a dream.
Shot in the face? Check. Huffing ether? Check. What am I missing … Oh yeah. Blackface. (In case you were wondering, that was where I drew the line.)
So … looking back, my childhood was ingrained with violence, drugs and blatant (seriously, it was bad) racism. And yet — I turned out OK. Why? Because I had responsible parents who educated me on morals, values and right versus wrong.
Bottom line? Cartoons were just a form of entertainment for me, as they are for my kids. Are some messed up? Sure. But that’s where I step in and explain that no, you can’t really shoot someone in the face.
Should you be aware of what your kids watch? Of course. But let’s face it, if your kids are learning everything they know from cartoons — no matter how safe, PC and censored they may be nowadays — we’re all in trouble.
That’s all folks.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.