I have never wanted to be one of those old guys who talked about how much tougher it was when I was a kid. You know the old story, I walked a 100 miles to school, during the hottest part of August in a blinding snow storm, uphill both way and liked it like that!
If the truth be known, I think the youth of today face a lot more dangers than we did when we were kids. There was no crack, meth or gangs in our small town back then. I could go on and on about the problems that have came from the growth of our fair city but that’s not what this is about. The thing that’s rattling around in my constantly rambling brain today is Saturday morning cartoons.
They are gone and that is sad. I’m not sure what killed them, maybe it was the Cartoon Network; all the sudden you can watch cartoons 24/7. Well, the kids can’t watch at night, there are some adult orientated cartoon on at night that kids have no business watching. And I seriously don’t get the ones that are own during the day anymore. Those Japanese animations just don’t make sense and a lot of them are plain violent. Now, I watched “Sponge Bob” with my nephew once and that was pretty cool. It had some genuinely funny moments, but it wasn’t the ‘toons of my day.
Saturday morning occupied a special time in my childhood. I would complain and moan about having to get up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the bus on weekdays, but would be out of bed by 7 a.m. sharp on Saturday to see my ‘toons. Straight outta bed, in to the kitchen, grab my Jethro-sized cereal bowl filled to the brim with Fruity Pebbles, Frosted Flakes, Count Chocula, Cookie Crisp or whatever sugary cereal offering occupied our cupboards. It was a sad, sad thing to get up on Saturday morn and find mom was trying again to cut back on my sugar intake and had bought plain corn flakes on her last trip to the grocery. That was as bad as getting socks for Christmas. Fortunately, I knew where she kept the sugar. After cereal, milk and the biggest spoon I could get in my mouth were procured, I would be parked, sitting Indian style, in front of the TV in my tighty whiteys watching the classics, “Laugh Olympics” (Smedley was my favorite), “Scooby Doo,” a cartoon that got even funnier as I got older (how did they manage to get two stoners, an ascot-wearing gay guy, a stereotypical lesbian and the girl of obviously loose morals by the censors? Pure brilliance), “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters” (yes, even as a kid I knew it was just a guy in a foam rubber suit, but I didn’t care, Sid and Marty Krofft were and still are geniuses), “Land Of The Lost” (the series was much better than the recent movie. They should have stuck to the formula. When I was a child, I was genuinely creeped out by the Slee Stacks).
Then there was the holy grail of Saturday morning cartoons, Bugs Bunny. “Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies” be more exact, but it will always be under the category of Bugs Bunny to me. I really loved the old ones best, the ones made back in the ’30s and ’40s. Those cartoons were my introduction to classical music. I have a CD of classical music from the Looney Tunes . . . “Keel Da Wabbit, Keel Da Wabbit.” Today those cartoons are politically and racially insensitive. But, its ok for characters to slash at each other with swords or fire fully automatic weapons in cartoons of today. And as for being offensive, Speedy Gonzales may have been stereotyping but it was damn funny stereotyping. I am a Southern white male, I belong to the only group of people on the planet that it is still OK to make fun of. I guess I just got lucky, because I grew up never knowing how much those racially incentive cartoon were damaging me. Even so, I managed to grow up and not be prejudiced against any one because of the color of their skin. Hmm, maybe it is because I knew it was a cartoon!
I think kids today have been cheated out of something. When you have something readily available, like 24 hour cartoons, the joy of anticipating it is gone. I remember playground arguments about the best Saturday morning shows. You couldn’t watch them all because there were three channels that ran cartoons back then and they were all on at the same time. A kid really had to plan out his Saturday morning cartoon schedule in order to maximize enjoyment. Some of the arguments would get heated but we could usually just agreed to disagree. I don’t know, maybe its just nostalgia, looking back with rose colored glasses, but I do think it was better back then, at least when it comes to Saturday mornings. I watched cartoons, I ate my cereal and then I went outside and played till dark. I must have put a 100,000 miles on my old Huffy. I wore the tires completely bald. I built empires with nothing more than dirt and imagination, I had to wear all that sugar off somehow. It still amazes me that exercise is something that has to be encouraged in children. There were many times, when I was a kid, I would forget to come home for lunch.
It’s not my intention to compare my childhood to those of today, the world is a different place than it was then. And in 20 years “these kids today” will be looking back wistfully and scratching their heads about the youth of today.
Ahh, the circle of life. cue Lion King music.