I recently came across all of my Disney movies and animated cartoon series from my childhood and thought I would watch a few. Even after almost twenty years I still get that feeling in the pit of my stomach after watching Aladdin(1992). For a brief moment the worries in my mind subsided and I was a kid again, who watched with wide eyes at a world where dreams come true. The deeper I dug into my cardboard box the more I found the treasures that I had forgotten. I picked up the Batman(1992) and Gargoyles(1994) animated series and wondered where all of the great storytelling had gone. I look at the cartoons that kids watch today and wonder if the creators have just gotten lazy with their ideas for these shows, or if children have become less intrigued with storytelling and more into whats flashy and popular. The cartoons I watched as a kid I still love today, probably even more so now than then.
A few weeks ago I was flipping though the channels on a Saturday morning when I came across The Disney Channel. The show that was on was called "Fish Hooks," a cartoon about three fish best friends who attend high school in a large fish tank. The animation isn't great and the writing is terrible. I'm not saying that I'm a better writer but I know I can come up with better story lines than whats on that television series. When I watched Gargoyles the other day, it had stories that you would find in old text books about European legends and Norse mythology; it actually taught you history while it entertained the viewer. Batman the animated series had detective stories that both children and adults could appreciate.
I'm not saying that all animated programs and movies are bad today. They just seem to have less quality in some shows today compared to what was created in the past. I even thought to myself that maybe when I was a kid that somebody had the same thoughts about the television shows I enjoyed, that they weren't as good as the cartoons from their past. Turns out that isn't true. I even asked a few people who were born in the fifties and sixties and they all tell me that cartoons from the eighties and early nineties were entertaining and actually enjoyed watching them with their kids.
At the turn of the century, cartoons seemed to have lost there edge and lacked in storytelling. Past shows were either going off the air or only existed through reruns. Their is only two cartoon franchises that seem to be a universal favorite even today, Mickey Mouse and the Looney Tunes. Every generation from the early twentieth century to now always go back to what works, a mouse with a high pitched voice and a rabbit who stirs up trouble, they seem to be the exception to what is written here.
Animated movies seem to always have a decent story and the only ones that seem to be consistent are Pixar film's. It seems though that cartoons in the eighties touched my heart more than what comes out today. Movies like The Secret of NIMH(1982), The Land Before Time(1988), and An American Tail(1986) touched more people born in my decade than what comes out today. Maybe it's because they were a part of my childhood that I hold them so dear to me, but animated stories seem to have lost a little of their magic and I hope one day that magic will return.
Twenty years later I am willing to bet that someone just like me will write a paper or a blog stating that their cartoons seem to be more entertaining than what their children are watching, and maybe that will be true. I am hoping though that someday things will turn around. Everyone has something that reminds them of their childhood, no matter if it's a cartoon, a favorite toy, or your memories. No matter how old we get though we always enjoy it when that kid inside us all comes out to remind us of a simpler time.