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24 October 2005

I can only assume that all issues in the Middle East have been resolved, all the radioactive material available on the black market has been accounted for, vaccines for malaria and HIV have been approved, voting machines now leave a paper trail, single-pay health care has been adopted, all injustices of the past have been rectified, equal rights are enjoyed as a matter of law by all races as well as homosexuals, economic disparity has been addressed in all countries, and we have entered a new Golden Age...

(Updated 10/25) let's deal with the social problem that is The Happy Tree Friends.

Apparently, the catalyst for Katharine Ellison's decision to waste my time reading this was catching her 6-year-old watching this online.

First of all, if I may comment, kudos to you, young master Ellison! Your savviness with the internets will hold you in good stead when it comes time to choose a trade.

This article seems to come from the same "it's tough to be a mom" mold as Ayelet Waldman's insufferable works; let's take a look at what passes for insight in this article.

Just when parents thought we knew who our electronic enemies were -- the shoot-'em-up video games, the TVs hawking trans fats, the pedophile e-mail stalkers and teenage-boobs Web sites -- here comes this new swamp-thing mass entertainment: the Internet "Flash cartoon," pared down to pure shock value.

This sounds like what someone making fun of her style might type, but since she insists on flogging this to the public, I suggest that there's exactly one thing in her list that is truly a concern. For everything else, the answer's simple. Don't buy your kids the goddamn videogames, turn off the goddamn TV, and put your computer in the living room so what your kid sees is clearly visible to everyone in the house if you're too goddamn lazy to work the internet filter.

BTW, if Mr. Ellison objects to this last suggestion, he's got a porn file on there somewhere.

OK, now let's discuss the merits of Ms. Ellison's argument.

This whole issue (look what we parents have to worry about!), is of course, nothing new. Marge Simpson dealt with this very issue in the second season of the Simpsons, and Ellison comes to pretty much the same conclusion that Marge does (I guess you can't ban the cartoon, though I'd really like to because I don't like it).

Ms. Ellison's biggest mistake, however, is to make the "when I was your age" argument that earlier cartoons were somehow better:

I know "Tom & Jerry," and this is no "Tom & Jerry." "Tom & Jerry" never pulled knives or tore heads off or used someone's intestines to strangle a third party, just for starters.

"Tom & Jerry" also had creativity, with surprising plot twists and a richly emotive score. Most importantly, "Tom & Jerry" had a conscience. Routinely, Tom attacks Jerry and is punished for his aggression.

You probably noticed that she doesn't really delve into specifics here, and with good reason...

Remember the cartoon "Mouse Trouble"? In that one, Tom hides in a giant birthday package, and Jerry, due to his suspicions, proceeds to shove stickpins into the package at various angles (with Tom's screams in pain heard) and saw the package in half. Jerry then looks in the cut open package, gulps, and holds up a "Is There a Doctor in The House?" sign.

In another cartoon, Tom and another cat try to catch Jerry by prying open the wallboard. As they lift the wall, Jerry smashes Tom's foot with a hammer, and as Tom lets go, the entire board falls on the other cat's fingertips, causing him to scream in excruciating pain. You then cut to Jerry playing the last line of "Yankee Doodle" on the cat's fingertips with the hammer like a xylophone, with the last note also containing a rather satisfying crunching sound as he hits two fingers at the same time.

Yes, Tom & Jerry is rather creative w/its characterizations, esp. the lovable Mammy Two-Shoes, who delighted audiences of all ages. Indeed, one of the important lessons I was taught by cartoons of this era was that if a high-impact explosive were detonated near you your lips would become elongated and pale and you would adopt mannerisms similar to the stylized acting of Mantan Moreland.

And we don't even have to talk about all the others, save to say that "adults" like yours truly can't even buy a DVD of Tom & Jerry that isn't uncensored (not that I'd care, I'd settle for a collection of the criminally overlooked Droopy Dog).

At this point, I must admit that one of my biggest shames growing up was hurting another child in the playground by giving him the ol' Three-Stooges eyepoke after watchin Bugs Bunny do that to the Tazmanian Devil.

I'm glad Ms. Ellison is an accomplished enough writer that she automatically assumes that her wondrous discoveries haven't been discovered by mainstream America. Can't wait to read upcoming articles about the dangers of the rap music...

But if I have a kid, s/he's going to grow up with a fine appreciation of Looney Tunes and Tex Avery, I'd be remiss in my parental duties if I did otherwise.

BTW, if you like the Friends, you might enjoy this cartoon that C. Franz sent me. I'm sure he won't mind,(since he hardly ever updates his blog anymore. And what's up w/that? Being a parent of two wonderful, beautiful daughters is satisfying enough for you? You're saying I don't have a life? Is that it, HUH?)

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