I have long held the belief that cartoons are very much a reflection of society. They project the best and the worse that we as a society has to offer. This can be seen in the heros we see that are the good guys, the villians who are an exaggreation of the evil in our world, and those people who work on the other side of the law for justice causes much like a vigilante. Oh and one more thing I forgot to note, each cartoon seems to have some sort of agenda.
I mean take a look at all of the various cartoons out there from today and in the past:
The Smurfs: Talk about lessons in communism. Now we have to note that in the cartoon world it is easy to make anything look good. Must have been while all the Smurfs were so happy. Even Lazy Smurf, who never did a thing about the village, got to reap the benefits of the other Smurfs hard work.
Captain Planet: With a doubt the most liberal cartoon in existance. What kills me is this should is still on in syndication. Notice here that ever corporate entity the go up against is evil and either mowing over a rainforest or dumping radioactive waste in the water. And perhaps just as pathetic and funny is one of the characters looks like a pig. Greedy Corporate Pig?
G.I. Joe: Even G.I. Joe had it's issues. While it taught a good pro-American theme there were a few things I took problem with. The first being the disregard for rank with the exception of when they were talking to the general. And the next being that not one person ever got shot! Not one. The only person that ever got taken out was Duke but that was in a movie and not the tv show. Kind of teachs us that war does not have it's costs.
The Simpsons: Who could not talk about cartoons and politics without mentioning the Simpsons. Without question the most balanced show on this topic out there. They take shots and both conservatives and liberals with the parodies and outlandish episodes.
But there was another cartoon that I was watching the other day that struck something inside me when I was watching. For those of you familiar with CGI cartoons Reboot is probably one that you are familiar with.
This cartoon is based in a computer world and it has it's good guys who defend and its bad guys who want to take over and/or destroy it. Two of the main characters are a guy named Bob (the hero) and the villian named Megabyte (the villian and a virus).
To make a long story short the Megabyte was captured and while in confinment his nemesis, Bob, walks in to talk to him. The talk centered around what would become of Megabyte. The conversation is brief and as follows:
Bob: It's not your fault. You were programmed to be this way. We've just gotta work out a way to reprogram you.
Megabyte: So... I won't be a virus?
Bob: That's the plan!
Megabyte: Ah. So. A fate worse than deletion. And they call me a monster.
Interesting a cartoon that deals with the death penalty. But at least here it gives the viewer something to think about. Rather then just put a one-sided view on this, the cartoon here raises the question of which side is actally the "monster"? The one who would sentence the villian to death or the one would "reprogram" the villian to think as they do.
Perhaps some of us think that as I look in to cartoons in this way I am making a mountain out of a molehill. Or that cartoons are for children. And that is all fine and well. But I think that just looking at these examples that I have noted should be a wake up call. While you may or maynot think these cartoons are childish your children and/or grand-children will not.
So who do you want politically indoctrinating your children? You and your family where you can explain right from wrong? Or the Smurfs where everything is just Smurfy?