Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday Morning Cartoons

I want to start a weekend trend around these parts, and it's borne from the fact that the truly great cartoons -- the ones I remember from my youth all the way into my late teens -- have vanished from Saturday mornings. The timeless classics, which miraculously really are as fresh and funny today as they were when they were created half a century ago, have been replaced by the worst kind of soulless, Disney-concocted dreck, just brimming with over-stylized pre-packaged hip.

This cannot stand.

Put simply, a kid raised on Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry will turn out smarter, sharper and generally cooler than a slavish little rugrat weaned on nonsense like Hannah Montana, Zack and Cody and Yu-Gi-Oh!

Tell me your kids will still be quoting That's So Raven two decades from now, or that Emperor's New School will have a shelf-life beyond a couple of years (when the cultural touchstones it so cleverly tries to tap into have evaporated, leaving its humor completely anachronistic).

So, here at Malcontent Central, we're bringing back the immortal classics on Saturday mornings. Why? Because they rule -- that's why.

To kick it all off, I figured it makes sense to go with the cartoon that I referenced a couple of days ago while writing about, of all things, Rachael Ray.

From 1950, here's Chuck Jones's brilliant Rabbit Fire.


trish said...

You're so right on about this. You know what makes Warner Brothers cartoons so great, especially by comparison to what's out there today? They were about art, not commerce. There's no better example of how the quest for money has ruined art and brought everything down to the lowest common denominator than what children watch these days.

Pamela Heywood said...

I dunno about kids, but I miss those for my Saturday morning viewing. I'm going to enjoy this. :)

Richard said...

Saturday mornings aren't the same without Bugs and the gang

Todd said...

Those original WB and MGM cartoons were never really intended for kids, but for adults... Many of the jokes would go right over the kids' heads in those days. Even today, you have to know something about the culture back then to get those jokes. Anyway, I agree Chez. I watched these growing up and I think I'm better for it.

Riles said...

So right you are. Great idea for a new feature on the site.

My boy and I will be here Saturday mornings.

Anonymous said...

I hope this is going to be a regular Saturday morning treat. Much appreciated belly laugh.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that for all the brilliant Looney Tunes / Merrie Melodies cartoons that were shown that were originally made in the 40s, 50s, and early 60s, there were also a lot of mediocre shorts with less thought out gags and cheaper animation that came out later. Anytime something involving Speedy Gonzales came on, I was changing the channel for seven minutes. Also, I'm just a few years younger than you, but for every well-made cartoon show I had growing up, there were many more made for the primary purpose of selling toys. Just as Transformers seemed to do OK at the box office, I'm sure Yu-Gi-Oh will have some big budget box office incarnation in 20 years, assuming society as we know it still exists then.

And I think there's some gems in the last few years that will be looked back at with some nostalgia. Powerpuff Girls, some of the superhero shows, and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends come to mind. Maybe not as great as the heyday of Looney Tunes, but keep in mind that the the better of those were originally geared towards adults to watch before movies before eventually being dumbed down for kids once television became their dominant outlet. And sadly, Looney Tunes are going to be retooled forever, in crappy incarnation after crappy incarnation to appeal to a newer audience until the world runs out of steam. For example:

There's going to be good and there's going to be bad pop culture, no matter what the era. Except 1982... nothing bad came out of that year ever, AND I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANYONE SAY OTHERWISE.

-- Schwa ---

As for my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoon, someone was kind enough to finally upload it to youtube since it has yet to be released on DVD:

Vermillion said...

It still amazes me how crossdressing, guns fired point-blank, and so on was ever considered children's fare. Then again, I guess we are better for it.

"Wabbit season. Duck Season! FIRE!!!"

God, I miss these cartoons.

Girl With Curious Hair said...

Hurray for great ideas! And if this becomes a regular feature, may I recommend 'What's Opera, Doc?' Unless people will object that it is part of the gay agenda or encourages cross dressing or something.

b80vin said...

My cartoon crack was "Jonny Quest", despite the crude Hanna-Barbera animation. The stories were like miniature Indiana Jones movies. I just recently purchased the entire series DVD. I was impressed by the noir Batman series Fox ran ten or so years ago.

Worse than the cartoon content on children's networks and kiddie programming, is the commercial content. It wasn't great when I was young but it was nowhere near as vacuous. Remember "Schoolhouse Rock" and "In the News"? Now they have half-assed "Don't forget to play outside for a little while, but then come in and log onto our web site for extra stuff (ask your mom or dad first, wink wink)" 'informational content'. Whatever happened to Linda Ellerbee's attempts to expose kid's to news and information?
However, I would rather my grand-children watch the worse kids shows ever, than come home from school turn on the tv and see the "Judge Judy" or TMtv shit they have on during those hours.

VOTAR said...

"Hey blackie... any more babes in there?"

Chez said...

I figured that somewhere along the line, someone would bring up the inarguable fact that occasionally, Warner Brothers and MGM cartoons played ugly racial stereotypes for laughs. This was a reflection of the times, which of course doesn't mitigate the level of insult some may feel.

That said, let me get the obvious counterpoint out of the way now.

Think Speedy Gonzalez was offensive? I've got three words for you: Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

You say Tom and Jerry or Droopy often mocked black people? I really hope you hold any video featuring Lil Jon or Soulja Boy in the same kind of contempt.

The racial and ethnic minstrel shows are still alive and well, folks.

Entropy Hed said...

I have volumes 1-4 of the Looney Tunes Golden collections. That's 16 DVD's of joy (there are some of the offensive cartoons in there so you do have to watch). We killed our TV the day our 7 year old was born and only watch hand selected DVD's on the computer now. These made the cut easily. =) You can find them on Amazon and other places. Enjoy!

Blenderab said...

Just to help you prove a point, (not that you need it...) check this out:

Since having my 3 children (ages 7,5, and 3) my wife and I don't get out much. It's for this reason that over the last 8 years, my DVD collection has grown to over 1,800 titles. (that's movies and show series, not disks themselves. We have no social life anymore! My family and neighbors think I should open a rental store.)

Anywho, my kids, though they do like the occasional SpongeBob, much rather watch my Tom & Jerry, Looney Toons, Muppet Shows, Sesame Street and the Electric Company sets. Also, the number one network that I play for my kids when they get free time is not Nick, Disney, or Cartoon Network... it's Boomerang!

Today's cartoons are mostly crap, but when given nothing else, todays kids don't know any better.

Web Dunce said...

Simon Bar Sinister. Need I say more?

MataHari said...

Thanks for that lovely treat Chez!
Hell of a lot better than that drudge you mentioned that Disney is trying to pass off as entertainment. I'll take Bugs, Daffy and Fudd over them any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

This is a good one, too.

Amy said...

I recently moved, and to be able to hire movers, I sucked from my cable / internet budget, so I have to wait a couple months to get the cable.

The first Saturday morning, I turn on the TV, and all there is, is infomercials where there should be cartoons. It was very distressing. However we did find some Spiderman and other kid shows on the WB. So, in the end the kids were happy.

What was funny, (not in a "haha" sort of way..) was my son who keeps suggesting that I just "turn on channel 25, that's cartoon network". The kid just can't wrap around his head that we don't have cable, and in order to have 24 hour cartoons, you must. have. cable.

However, I will say, that Tom and Jerry is still on. And (when we have cable) it's one of my kids favorite shows.

E said...

I run our Kid's block at a TV station on Saturday mornings. (Its a CW cough cough WB cough cough station)

I get to sit through this weekly. It's pretty much crap. You get the one show that actually tries to teach kids about something. You get the rehash toy shows that revolve around trading cards in real life. And the rest is kind of soul-less. It's like shorthand lazy creation in a supposedly good looking package. Even the new Spiderman show we run tends to get repetitive.

I know kids can handle more complex setups and better stories but thats a lot of work when you want to sell toys.

Paul said...

"You kids get off my lawn!" screamed the old man. "And pull your pants up!"

Amii said...

Great idea; are you taking requests? If so, a little Foghorn Leghorn would please me oodles.