Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why 80s Cartoons Weren't Crap

Wired has an article on how crappy the 80s cartoons loved were. The article in question can be found right (here), but I don't think it's really important to read it because it's fairly generic and doesn't really go into any nuance of why our shows were bad. It just boils down to this: the 80s cartoons sucked because, and today's cartoons are better! Just look at Netflix if you don't believe me.

Its author decides to use My Little Pony, GI Joe, and The Transformers as the epitome of that era. I can't disagree that these were hugely popular and largely marketing oriented. But seeing our toys come to life every Saturday, didn't suck. And what more does a kid need than to see giant robots blasting each other with lasers? Also, these weren't the epitome for all of us. What about The Real Ghostbusters, TMNT, Duck TalesThunder Cats, Captain N: The Game Master, Robotech, The Super Mario Brothers Super Show, Inspector Gadget, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, etc? These weren't bad shows. Hell, Ghostbusters even invoked HP Lovecraft's mythos!

And how can something be cliche to someone with little to no experience with film, literature, and general story telling? That's the crux of this argument. These were good kid's shows. And looking back on them as cynical adults isn't really fair. Also, today's cartoons aren't solely being watched by children. Just like children's fiction is being enjoyed by adults (Harry Potter). They are designed to have a broader appeal. Even I enjoyed Invader Zim, and I stopped watching kid's cartoons by the mid 90s. But to be fair, I had stumbled in on the special interest section at Video Update and discovered Anime. 

Also, we didn't really have many Marvel / DC comic based cartoons. I remember Pride of The X-men because a friend had the tape. And I guess there was a Spiderman cartoon that was out, but I never saw it. And Super Friends was such a product of the 70s, which lingered into the 80s, but even that had a few cool episodes now and then. Definitely not the same vibe of the 90s and 00s cartoons. But there was little seriousness or depth to the story telling because it was aimed at much younger kids.

And in terms of animation quality, I don't like the choppy frame rates, thick outlines, and blocky designs of the action cartoons that came after. And this isn't the first time I've heard this claim, either. But I don't really understand where it comes from. So, let's look at the old TMNT vs the newer ones. And I know using the intro isn't completely fair because the animation quality was a little better than the actual show and it also went downhill in the 90s, but the overall style and feel is so much better.

If you were a teenager in the 80s, the cartoons sucked. If you weren't born in the late 70s, early 80s, or even early 90s, there is no real reason to revisit any of it as there is nothing nostalgic here for you. And those Walmart / Target retro shirts are disgned to appeal to people like me. 
Me in the early 80s
I can say this kid would not have given a shit about shows like Sponge Bob Square Pants or Adventure Time. They just didn't mesh well with the culture surrounding him. I didn't even like Ren & Stimpy; it grossed me out. But this was our time, and it should get to be unique and subjectively good. Look at me, that face is beaming over getting a He-Man action figure that is now buried in a giant heap of garbage, at some dump. And as an adult, this is more accurate to what I think of the show. But as a kid, it surely must have been a magical cartoon.

I now leave you with one of the best theme songs to ever grace an 80s cartoon. And you may have never heard of it as it was a Canadian show called The Raccoons.

1 comment:

  1. Fuck yeah! The Raccoons! Also, 80's you was adorable.