Not The Geek Next Door – Week 2

Another in this week from Ana! Enjoy:

Many of us have fond memories of waking up early Saturday morning, grabbing a bowl of our favorite sugar-injected cereal, planting ourselves square in the front of the TV and turning on our favorite cartoons. It was my weekend ritual. My friends, all boys, would converge on my house each weekend and we’d sit, transfixed watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dinosaucers, X-Men, Captain N and G.I. Joe. Then we’d rush outside, don our gloves, capes, and hop on our bikes and act out the scenes we had committed to our tiny memories. April, Teryx, Jean and Jubilee, Princess Zelda and Baroness – all the girls I pretended to be during our adventures. I guess, in some respect that never left me.

Probably not what most girls did, but then again – if I was your average girl, I wouldn’t be here writing a weekly column on all things geek. Still, it was those cartoons – and the eventual addition of shows like Batman to the weekday line up, that introduced me, and I’m sure many other fans, to comic books and got us hooked on the genre.

After some years though, I noticed a hole left in Saturday mornings. In the place of my most-loved cartoons were talking heads, teeny bopper sitcoms, and the worse – paid programming. Even in my last year of high school, weekday afternoons started to fill up with junk.

Now all you get on the afternoons are a superfluous amount of shows featuring would-be judges and people who have way more issues than who’s going to pay for the dog that was given up when the couple split up. Oh, and don’t forget the latest washed up actor/model/back up dancer talk show!

Where had all the cartoons gone?

In the late 90s, cartoons started migrating, going into syndication and ending up on cable stations like Cartoon Network and Toon Disney. Fine by me, but -shock- not everyone had cable in the 90s. Some say it was the increase of video games that kept kids from watching TV; others cite the cable networks themselves for giving more options to first run syndication programs.

For me, the whole video game angle worked in reverse. There were a lot less things on TV I wanted to watch, so by the time I got into high school, video games took up whatever time wasn’t spent studying or the occasional sneaking out to hit the local goth club (and let’s not fool ourselves, I was far from popular and wasn’t turning down any hot dates so I could play Final Fantasy).

I still loved animation, and so I turned to Japan to get my fix. Most of the shows, even ones aimed at a younger audience like Sailor Moon, dealt with issues and emotions and roughly things I could relate to (because who can’t identify with giant aliens attacking earth and the only hope for humanity is a handful of teenagers). In no short time, I became an anime kid. I could write a whole column on how anime has shaped the younger generation in the same way that the cartoons I watched growing up shaped me, but I think it’s pretty obvious and doesn’t need to be spelled out.

The most likely culprit to the downfall of cartoons points to the Telecommunications Act of 1996. When the government told broadcast networks they had to air a minimum of three hours of educational and informative children’s programming a week, the networks responded by dropping cartoons and rearranging their schedule. Since ‘toons normally don’t fall under educational or informative, they started popping up on cable stations where the regulations weren’t so strict.

It seemed the era of cartoons was over.

Saturday morning, I walked into the studio and someone had left NBC turned up, an lo-and-behold there was a cartoon on! It was terribly childish, and looked like American-style anime, but it put a big smile on my face to see Saturday morning cartoons back on the air.

Thankfully I have sites like Surf the Channel and DVDs to still reminise in my childhood favorites. Some shows are as good as I remember them, others, well, let’s leave them as happy memories.

Speaking of cartoons, I found something I am so looking forward to! Batman: The Brave and the Bold! It’s campy as can be, but has Batman teaming up with a slew of DC Universe heroes. I caught the trailer on YouTube, I think it was released the other weekend at SDCC.

Link to the trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpXSPJZr65s

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Updated: August 9, 2008 — 7:00 pm

2 Comments

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  1. I love your article because it was so incredibly true. I did not have cable when my son was a toddler. So I have always said that I will never say anything negative about Pokemon. When I would have taken him to the park to play in the afternoon, the only way that I would get him to want to come home from the playground to tell him that Pokemon was on as the Kids WB channel would show it during the afternoon. Now that we have satellite, my children watch Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, or Toon Disney. I remember getting ready for school watching the Thundercats or watching it when I would get home from school. I do not think that my children will be able to say anything like that.

  2. I enjoyed cartoons myself, back in the 80’s, I think when approaching Senior Year in HS or perhaps early teens, I started loosing interest…that is after Tiney Toons and Animaniacs. lol

    After that point, everything seemed too cheesy, or perhaps I outgrew cartoons.

    I was such a dork, I had an addiction to the Smurfs, LOL!

    If you’ve noticed, no more BIG crowds around the arcades when big arcades came out like in the 90’s…Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, etc.

    Now, everything is so advanced, there’s no need for arcade games anymore, we have the XBOX’s and Play stations….so the Arcades are barren, ‘cept if you like the occasional speed ball game or the “Grab the stuffed animl with a claw” game.

    Yeah, now everyone is in doors. parents made me go out to play in the sunshine after Sat cartoons

    Though, being in teh south, we didn’t do much superhero stuff…we played, “Dukes of Hazard” for some lame reason. LOL!

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