The other day my daughter and I built a marshmallow launcher. I am not sure what we didn't do right. Perhaps it was the tension of the rubber band, which was understandably stretched out after holding back Barbie's hair, but when you stuck a marshmallow in the launcher, and pulled the trigger, the unnatural food product would made a sad arc and fall straight to the floor with a "bloop."
It's like a Wile E. Coyote invention, I said, referencing a popular cartoon of my era and those eras since 1948.
What's that? said my daughter.
I realized she didn't know who or what that was. Nor does she know of Road Runner, Tom & Jerry, Pink Panther, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Peabody and Sherman and dozens of others.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
How very sad. Back in my day cartoon characters, were, well, characters.
Now I'm watching what is considered age appropriate for my kid. Dora, Strawberry Shortcake, Arthur, Word Girl, Princess Sofia, Doc McStuffins, Jake and his Pirates. They're so interchangable. Everyone is so nice. Sickly nice. Nice to their friends. Nice to woodland creatures. Nice to each other. They recycle. In my day, Dora would be hitting Swiper over the head with a pan for stealing stuff. Now all she has to do to shake her nemesis is say "Swiper, no Swiping." He complies without a fuss.
The darkest part of Dora, when she tells Swiper to stop swiping, she doesn't say please.
I watch my kid's cartoons and a Bugs Bunny sight gag come to mind. Sitting there needing toothpicks to hold open my eyelids. Which then become so heavy the toothpicks snap as they fall closed. A bulldozer couldn't open my eyes.
There is just too much talking in the cartoons of now. Talking about feelings and how to work things out. How to share. How to get along. It's all about the formulaic plot. Problem/resolution. Make new friends you need to help, talk, talk, talk, give lecture, learn lesson, pick up some gold, go home. They're trying so hard to be some idealized reflection of "real" even as they glide around a pirate ship on a talking pony with wings.
Where are the bumps and halos of chirping birds and twinkling stars that accompany blunt head trauma? Trick question because no one gets hurt anymore. Everything is talked out and neatly resolved. The world is not a messy place. Your friends always treat you with kindness and respect, include you in everything and compromise unquestionably.
Sadly, it's easier to tell your kid that the rocket launcher from Acme is not real then it is to explain to her that real people are not as one dimensional as the cartoons. In real life, your grade school friend may be your best friend one day and ratting on you to the teacher the next.
I do enjoy SpongeBob and that show with the talking gumball machine. If there are others we should be watching, please let me know.