Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The 90's were the greatest time to enjoy cartoons

Alright, so I guess I need to have a post on this blog, too. The guys haven't been harassing me about it, but I know it's gonna bug me until I do.

People that know me in the real world know I'm a huge advocate for cartoons and animation. People that can't tell the difference between the two are the flavor of ignorant that I can't stand, but hopefully just addressing that should be enough. Anyways, on to where this blog is going. The AD cast is full of children of the 90's. The 90's are an interesting time when you look back on it; it was full of newer, simpler fashions and weeded out the garbage the 80's tried to carry. The decline of good music also started here; I'm not saying that 90's music sucked, but it wasn't as good as the classic rock we had in the 80's. I mean, the 90's gave us Boy Bands, a dark spot on all music, but it was also the high point of this kind of music. Sure, we look back and say, "my gosh, the Backstreet Boys were awful," but none of us are ashamed to know ALL THE WORDS to their songs.

But being a kid means one thing in particular: cartoons. We got a boatload of the best cartoons. We were given the gift of whole channels devoted to them! Nickelodeon  and Cartoon Network! And you can just LIST the good shows from childhood from here, but the best thing about the 90's was that there was a past to enjoy, too. So lemme just get you some numbers.

Why were the 90's the best years for cartoons?

1) Classics

While I did just get into a tussle with Josh or Don about this, Bugs Bunny was one of the greatest cartoons on the face of this earth. Chuck Jones and I. Freeling were geniuses at working the common and classic tropes of what are genuine cartoons, and even more so with the score of their works. Seriously, my parents took me to Bugs Bunny on Broadway at the Hollywood Bowl when I was a kid, where an entire audience of people would watch Looney Tunes with a whole orchestra backing it up. Wily Coyote and Roadrunner? I still laugh at that! Genuinely, this is high class entertainment, and it's a cartoon!

2) The 80's 

We got the good stuff from the 80's. Case and point: Transformers. Transformers was still getting some play in the 90's. And it certainly wouldn't be getting the massive popularity boost it has now were it not for the play it got during two decades worth of viewers, and it wouldn't have gotten two decades worth of viewers if it wasn't a quality piece of animation. Same goes for a lot of 80's stuff. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sound familiar? These are only two, but producers were learning and trying new stuff that carried over into the 90's. 

3) Fun for All Audiences

What I mean by that is not just the Parental Bonus and getting crap past the radar, which the 90's were masters of (Rocko's Modern Life and Ren & Stimpy for starters), but just that characters and plots were thought out and not delivered to a bunch of idiots. Doug (from Doug) constantly faced problems that were common problems a kid could have or misunderstandings they might make and tackle the problem in adventurous ways through his imagination and alter egos before addressing the problem in a mature and lifelike fashion. Angry Beavers was less real, but developed a large cast of recognizable characters with lots of quirks, not just one, that made the characters fun to watch. Beast Wars started treating to more than 15 minutes bites and showed we could appreciate a work that lasted a whole season (or three [or five!]). Now, we can also just think back and friggin' list all the cartoons and animated shows that rocked our world. I mean, they weren't all winners. We did have Street Sharks and Stone Protectors, which were closer to the dying elements of the 80's than the good stuff I've been praising.  But come on! Earthworm Jim! Batman: The Animated series! Rocket Power! Dexter's Lab! Samurai Jack! All of these are shows they could just friggin' put back on the air and would bring in the ratings.

The decline:

All good things do come to an end, like Batman Beyond, another great one; the 00's were not kind to cartoons. Shows that were once good began to jump sharks and flanderize their characters to death, Spongebob Squarepants and Fairly Oddparents being the worst offenders.

Glimmering diamonds in the rough existed, like Avatar: The Last Airbender. I attribute a large part of it's massive success to it being the only good animated thing to watch at the time (apart from Danny Phantom).  Other good shows couldn't survive past one season before either nobody watched because nobody knew about it or the producers caved like tissue paper to fans demands. Man, just when Ben 10 actually became a good show when it transitioned to Alien Force, they rewrote everything back to how it was before, eliminating ALL the good character development they HAD been writing.

So here we are, the start of the 10's. I've tried watching cartoons that other people my age watch, like Adventure Time and Regular Show. While I'll admit the dialogue is well written, the subject matter is frequently misguided or disjointed and I also CAN'T STAND THAT NOBODY HAS ELBOWS! That just drives me CRAZY! Cartoon Network is showing loads of shows that are clearly NOT cartoons, especially Adult Swim. It's just, so few people want to put their whole force behind a good, well-developed, animated work. They're expensive and tedious. It's not like a live action show where you can recruit any batch of actors and crew and shlop it together in a day if you wanted to do so. Yeah, that's why the best animated program on is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Yeah, it's why there's such an influx of bronies and this massive audience for a show targeted at little girls, because it does all the things the 90's did with their cartoons. What was the key thing? What was the ONE THING we did in the 90's that worked so well? Here it is:

Ninety's cartoons were animated shows that were suitable for children, not children's programing. Do you see it? Do you see my reasoning? Hope so, that statement it pretty self explanatory and it's the basis of my whole argument. 

Oh, also, Simpsons was at it's peak. And Futurama. And All of Adult Swim. Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. Love that show. 

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