Tag Archives: Dinosaucers

Cartoon Anxiety

4461391534_02cce86892_oThough I mainly enjoy flipping through old “mom” magazines to find cool vintage advertisements for extinct products, every so often I do dip in a little further and read some of the articles.  Like the one I took a look at last week about kid’s infatuation with gross out toys and collectibles or the Washington Post editorial on how He-Man and the Masters of the Universe contained hidden messages I dug into a few years ago, it’s always fun to read these to get a glimpse into the wacky world of parents back in the 80s.  Sometimes there are some interesting and valid points raised in these articles, but they’re typically pretty crazy, over the top windows into the minds of parents who loved pointing the finger at cartoons and toys as a reason that their kids are hard to deal with.  If I’ve learned nothing else in my almost 40 years on Earth I can pretty unequivocally say that kids are just annoying and irrational no matter how you slice it.  It doesn’t matter if they watch Transformers or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles every day after school, if they’re going to get into fights or tear up a neighbor’s yard with their bike, it’s not because of cartoons.

That said, this article titled Cartoon Anxiety from the December 1986 issue of Working Mother magazine is a pretty mixed bag of interesting points and flat out crazy.  The piece was written by Lois Meltzer, an attorney and freelance writer out of the California area.

Cartoon Anxiety Article Working Woman Dec 1986

First off, from a design perspective, this article is a little weird.  I know that Mrs. Meltzer had no hand in it, but Doug Taylor’s illustration has some weird aspects to it.  I feel like the idea was to give a general impression of a mixed range of cartoon characters coming out of the TV for the kid to interact with, but that knock-off, but very obvious Voltron head on the right is just messing with my head.  I know the subtitle of the article evokes Voltron, but the combo of that illustration paired with the glove-wearing cartoon squirrel is just trippy.  Also, why the psuedo-Asian brush font for the title?  Anyway, getting into the actual nitty-gritty of the piece, the overall gist of the article is an argument that parents can’t stop their kids from watching cartoons, so they should just stop trying to fight it and give in. Meltzer lists a bunch of perceived positive and negative aspects to the at the time modern animation that had me laughing out loud.

For instance, she states that cartoons teach children about which tasks or jobs they should tackle in the real world, versus which ones they should just outsource to a professional for sake of ease.  Like she literally says that if a kid watches cartoons it’s plain as day that if you want to take over the world, it’s best not to leave it to henchmen or underlings.  On the other hand, cartoons teach kids that it’s crazy to attempt to fix plumbing, your car, or electrical outlets in the home for fear of causing a flood, having a car blow up or getting electrocuted, and that it’s best to leave those tasks to professionals.  This is kind of insane.  I mean, what is the logic here?  Is a cartoon villain trying to take over the world a metaphor for a kid being aware that the sky’s the limit on chasing their dreams?  If so, then conversely, is Meltzer saying that jobs like being a plumber, electrician, or auto repair technician beneath her children?  I mean, wouldn’t she want her kids to learn to do those things if only to be more self reliant?

Also,  I specifically took umbrage with a statement she makes that claims that kids won’t learn how to pronounce “triceratops” by watching cartoons.  Well, I think any kid who grew up watching the Dinosaucers would disagree with that…

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Even though the article is super silly, it was still fun to read.  I may be a grown-up kid with my head in the clouds most of the time, but I do know for a fact that a healthy dose of cartoons during my childhood certainly made me a much smarter person that most adults at the time would have believed.  There were so many subtle and not-so-subtle things that cartoons had peppered throughout the plots and settings that introduced me to ideas way before I “officially” learned about them in school.  Dr. Mindbender on G.I. Joe taught me all about deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) while creating Serpentor long before I ever learned about it in biology class, and Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus taught me about self sacrifice and leadership (or lack there of) in the Transformers movie before I every took a World or US history class in high school.  Just saying…