stuff gets examined.

Teletoon Retro

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The Boy likes to watch Teletoon Retro. It horrifies me to see this stuff again that I grew up on or witnessed in passing over the years – Bugs Bunny, Pink Panther, Tom and Jerry. Incredibly violent – guns blazing all over the place, characters getting pounded with all sorts of stuff, diced into pieces , etc etc. You see a bit of violence in modern cartoons, but not at the constant rate in these old hunks of junk. You still see guns, but they’re often absurd cartoons of guns, not the realistic depictions you see in the Retro stuff (Yosemite Sam seems to favour a pair of American Civil War pistols).

The cultural references were puzzling to me when I was a child (“Open up that door! –You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘Richard’”). They must be even more bizarre to more recent generations of kids. Of course, back then I thought it was funny because of the casual slapstick violence, and perhaps the perception I’d picked up that “this stuff is funny.”

It occurs to me that Teletoon Retro isn’t actually for kids. It’s for adults who remember this stuff when they were kids.  The adults are nostalgic for it, and their fulfilling of this nostalgia is exposing a whole new generation to a bunch of fossilized cultural values and behavior. Take “Looney Tunes/Bugs Bunny” for instance – when the majority of them were made, a major world war had just ended. The “Honeymooners” was popular in the same time period, which demonstrates the level of casual violence and the implied right of the man of the household to beat up other people in the house. Racism was rampant, foreigners were rudely characterized as a matter of course. Single parenthood was an embarrassment and shuffled out of sight, being non-straight was a crime almost everywhere.  Handicapped people were a burden and a joke. The earth was being freely and happily ripped up and polluted without thought to consequences. Draconian punishments were common in justice and in schools. In the United States, black people were still heavily marginalized, denied the vote in many states, and regularly killed by mobs without recourse for their friends and relatives. In Canada, killing a Native American wasn’t a serious crime.

In essence, many retro cartoons were created in the same time period as the “golden age” cultural values many in North America continue to try and force down over a world that is entirely different from the world that created them.

Yes, they’re cartoons, fun to watch sometimes and a reminder of childhood. They’re also the compression of the cultural point in time when they were produced, containing badness it took us lots of time, energy and pain to overcome. They’re one more thing that’s revived and kept around for the comfort of older generations, and accidentally rubbed on younger people.


Written by balloonhed

January 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

One Response

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  1. […] shake it off.  Children are totally subject to the entire history of this obsession through the vast catalogue of historical media considered to be “Children’s Cartoons,” and casual/accidental viewing of CSI, movies, and other adult entertainment where guns are still a […]

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