Sunday, April 6, 2014

Kids

Watching children's TV shows as an adult is an interesting experience. I'm not really talking about animated Disney movies per se because those films were never intended to be seen only by children. Disney knew adults had to enjoy them as well or they'd just wait for them to be on video and wouldn't take their kids to the theaters to see them.
No, what I'm talking about are the shows created today for children.
As it so happens, I stumbled upon an airing of Pocahontas on Disney Junior. Having written my thesis on the "Architected Architypes of Disney Animated Movie Musicals," I have a grown-up soft spot for these films. After spending considerable time staring at her hair blowing in the wind and trying to figure out why Mel Gibson is in the body of Beast after he's transformed back into a prince, it was time for a commercial break.
I spend the next however many minutes, it felt like three hours, being sung to by to men in what I can only assume are Party City pirate costumes, spliced with clips from this animated show that makes Captain Hook look like the fun uncle with a boat you'd always want to spend the summers with.
I have so many questions. What exactly is this about? When I was a kid, I was immersed in the week-to-week narrative of X-Men. In the first episode, one of the characters dies. They are dealing with issues ranging from racism to homophobia. What are these shows showing kids? That everyone deserves a trophy just for showing up and that everything is "bullying?"
When I was a kid, I learned that people are different and that's okay. I learned to respect others. I also learned to stand up for myself. I learned that from TV shows.
I'm not sure what kids are watching and I've written post after post about how cartoons were much more engaging and well-thought out than the swill that's on today, but I'm thankful I had cartoons like X-Men and Animaniacs that were both entertaining and made kids think. Even when we didn't know we were thinking about bigger things, bigger ideas, pop culture, and how we treated other people, we were thinking about it.
I don't know if shows today do the same thing.
The next commercial was for a show about some shapeless alien creatures who don't say much. I changed the channel at that point.