• Jordan Sheady

My thoughts on modern cartoons

I look back on my childhood, which lasted from the late 80s and through the 90s, with fond memories - it was an era of Konami codes and Marathon Bars, an age where Weetos actually had a mascot and James Wan had nothing to do with horror movies - these were better times. But when we look back into our past, it's easy to hold those rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia tight to our faces, especially when comparing to our present. But now that we have the gift of the internet, and I'm able to go online and purchase Disney's The Adventures of the Gummi Bears Vol. 1 on DVD, I can re-live those oh-so fond memories with a more critical eye, and see whether their high adventures really were beyond compare.

The argument I am making here is that while they may be more popular than ever, I feel the quality of cartoons has dipped considerably as a whole, and this is a problem. It's not a new argument, but it's one I want to make anyway.

Without night there is no day, just as without good there is no evil. The same can be said that if there are no bad cartoons there can there be no good cartoons. Now I'll admit, on watching cartoons from back in the day, it is painfully obvious that there are a lot of bad cartoons, and some which I thought were good but have not withstood the test of time. I want to make it clear than I am in no way claiming that my youth was like some golden age of cartoons, not with shows based on the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and New Kids on the Block franchises plastering unsuspecting TV screens.

One thing I will say for the 80s/90s is that you could really tell your cartoons apart. Tired of watching Gravedale High reruns? Switch over to Nickelodeon for some Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. Finished following Estaban and his friends to discover the Mysterious Cities of Gold? Time to check in on Chip 'n' Dale and the Rescue Rangers. Nowadays I can barely tell my Gumball from my Regular Show. And this is due to several key aspects each of these cartoons all seem to share -

1. Characters, and the worlds they occupy, often have a very saccharine, non-threatening look about them. Vibrant colours and soft-edged shapes are complimented with huge smiles and simple designs.

2. Plot and character development, while sometimes present, often take a back seat to sarcastic, self-referential dialogue and low-brow humour.

3. Any real sense of danger has been all but expunged from these cartoons. Stakes remain patronisingly low when compared to the threat levels of past villains and the tough choices once posed to our protagonists of days gone.

So let's start with the character designs - I guess Adventure Time could be seen as patient zero for this wave of colourful shape c

Now it can be argued that cartoons are more mainstream and accepted than ever, with shows like Archer and Rick & Morty having huge adult followings, not to mention Disney owning half of the world by this point, but quantity does not make up for quality.

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©2019 by Bitter Pill Productions - Jordan Belmont