written by Aurora Lockhart
I’m still a huge fan of cartoons, but I can be a little picky. I tend to stick to older, completed cartoons, some of which ended before I was ever born. There’s an obscure one I found recently that was never picked up, and only a few episodes were released. But in just four short episodes, it captured my loyalty—a feat some shows couldn’t do in several seasons. After reflecting on why, I realized another thing I’m passionate about.
When my father decided to drop cable, I wasn’t bothered. Everything that aired was practically the same thing, which was often filled with some sort of agenda. I remember back in 2012 during elections, Nickelodeon aired a statement who they supported, and highly encouraged the viewer to do the same. Even as a young teenager, I was disturbed: I legally couldn’t vote yet, and neither could their target audience, so why were they telling us this?
This demonstrated Nick and other networks weren’t that much different with their messages. They directly or indirectly taught how we should vote, who we should associate with, and even how to act or think. It may be important to teach kids how politics work at some point, but most often these teachings are biased. Of course, not every episode of every show was like this. Instead, they would have silly situations to simply entertain the audience. I’ll always love cartoons like Spongebob and Animaniacs, but even they sometimes lack something important: treating people with differences and flaws respectfully.
Sometimes they’ll have an episode that covers such a topic, but I feel this one obscure cartoon that never aired handled it much better than others I’ve seen. One character had a major problem with anxiety, to the point it caused him and others issues. Even though it caused some annoyance, he was treated like a person, and a friend. Another even went as far to say “it’s part of his charm.” If I had seen such an episode back in elementary, I might have felt less like a problem when my teachers had to deal with my own anxiety.
In another episode, they help the very man that wants to throw them in jail. Granted, they had an ulterior motive but they also displayed genuine care, concern, and even sympathy. They saw their enemy as a person rather than just evil, and it’s not often this is shown, especially in something meant for kids.
This reflection may have been rather deep for something as trivial as a cartoon, but I realized that you don’t change the world by getting everyone to think the same way. You change it by showing compassion to others, to those you have differences with, and even to those who may oppose you.
We shouldn’t be wiring brains, but nourishing spirits. Silly scenarios are always great and I don’t mind simple entertainment, but when it comes to spreading a message, it should have substance–something that sticks to the heart.