An Focal · Features

At rainbows end is a unicorn made of clouds

Time travel is impossible. It is a scientists and sci-fi enthusiasts wet dream.

Cartoons have always been the gateway to childhood. Once you catch a glimpse of your favourite animated friend or you hear those opening bars to the familiar theme tune you are instantly transported back in time.

As kids of the nineties I think you’ll agree that cartoons were better back then. The era we grew up in has been described as the golden age of cartoons and how can anyone disagree with such genius as Animaniacs and Tom and Jerry to keep us entertained.

We didn’t have a four year old who travelled the world on her own (Dora the Explorer) or two brothers who can’t tolerate being bored so get into all sorts of ridiculous trouble (Phineas and Ferb). So, who cares?

Our cartoons are classics that stand the test of time. They are just as funny when we watch them now as they were when we rushed home from school so we didn’t miss the introduction to our favourite shows.

Luckily the internet has allowed us to be transported back to out childhood at the click of a mouse, if only today’s kids would take the opportunity to watch with us, they would see what they are missing.

Unfortunately many of the younger generation will never hear or recognise the iconic lines, ‘Gee Brain what you wanna do tonight?’ ‘The same thing we do every night Pinky, try to take over the world!’ Or feel that hope that Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy would eventually get married and live happily ever after on The Muppet Show.

Many successful cartoons of this period were made into films including Doug, Rugrats, Hey Arnold and X-Men. While many of the cartoons may not have translated excellently onto the big screen the brilliance that they had was by no means damaged. The fan base is still as big as ever for all these classics as it has never changed it has just got older.

The most successful cartoon that can be turned into feature length films and still keep its magic has to be Tom and Jerry. This was always a favourite among kids and adults alike. Toms elaborate plans of catching Jerry that fail miserably every time captivates those of every age.

You can’t help but love both of the characters because deep down you know they are best friends. This message was so good that we had three cartoons that followed the same formula, Tom and Jerry, Tweety Bird and of course The Roadrunner.

We may have grown up with these cartoons but by no means have we grown out of them. We have brought them with us into adulthood and they have kept us sane.

The nineties was also the start of adult cartoons such as Bevis and Butthead, Daria, Southpark and to some extent The Simpson’s. However without the classic cartoons that we all loved these would never have evolved.

The nineties was a time of experimentation for animators. For example the ever popular Ren and Stimpy was one of the most neurotic cartoons ever to hit children’s screens. When the show first aired, it was described as frightening and often violent. When it came back in 1993, it was re-formatted to suit the masses, and eventually led to four years of success. The duo returned to television briefly in 2003, only to be removed once again as the plot-lines were considered to be “too adult” for television

Perhaps the reason adult cartoons evolved was because of our generation’s refusal to leave our childhood behind.

There is so much that today’s children will never experience. Not only are they missing out on timeless cartoons but also the joy of proper penny sweets. They will never taste liquorice whips that were a foot long at least and came in bright red or green, chocolate mice and fruit salad sweets to name just a few.

These were sweets that you would sneak out of the house for, disobeying your parents every wish just like you would for the cartoons. They were worth getting in trouble for.

Childhood has become more of a chore in today’s society. Kid’s aren’t cheeky, they’re disobedient, they’re not innocent they’re naïve.

I don’t know about you but I’m glad that I grew up when I did. Looking back in rose tinted glasses is much more appealing then looking to the future blind.

So I urge you, return to the innocence of your childhood. Watch your favourite cartoon and remember the joy of the simple things in life. And just before I leave you here is a clip from my favourite cartoon. Enjoy!

(text published in ‘An Focal’ 26 April 2011)

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