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Cartoons And Me – Or Why Bruce Knows Some Strange Stuff

bugs bunny and friends
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for The Chuck Jones Experience

 

 

“You are rotting your mind”, I heard that a lot when I was a kid because I would spend hours and hours gazing into the television at cartoons. My parents had very little use for cartoons. However being a rebellious child I had a lot of uses for cartoons.

Cartoons were not only my companions but they taught me almost as well as some of my elementary and middle school teachers did. Cartoons also opened my mind to some very stimulating and rewarding concepts and art forms. Cartoons did not rot my mind, they didn’t rot your mind either, cartoons were the very reason we bothered to learn a lot of the things kids today struggle to retain.

Classical Music: I grew up in Starkville Mississippi and the closest thing we had to a symphony was  the guys that played while you ate at the Shakey’s Pizza Place. Still I learned about amazing symphonies and conductors and even great operatic arias because of cartoons. The Barber of Seville, you remember when Bugs Bunny taught you that don’t you? How about the Marriage of Figaro? Tom and Jerry introduced our eager minds to that incredible performance piece one hand drawn frame at a time.

Geography: I can name just about all the nations of the world can you? If you watched the Animaniacs I bet you can. I bet if you watch this video five times you will be able to name almost all of the nations in the world too. It’s amazing what a well animated teacher can make stick between your ears, especially if it’s set to song. Even Coach from the early days of Cheers knew that. You remember where Albania is located don’t you? I know they aren’t cartoons but it still illustrates the point of making facts stay between your ears.

Grammar: I only need to say two words right here. Schoolhouse Rock! I can tell you about interjections, verbs, conjunctions and adverbs, all because my mind was open when the lesson was being taught. Every now and then Schoolhouse Rock! would throw in a little social studies and civics lesson too. Who knew we were actually learning while we were singing along.

Nutrition: I never knew who or what this round thing with the long legs really was supposed to be. I have to admit if I saw it roaming around my kitchen I would have probably stepped on it or given it an aerosol arsenal of what ever was handy. Still this dot of a stick figure taught me the wonderful value of cheese! I also learned how to make my own juice pops using an ice tray and a toothpick.They called it “Sunshine on a Stick”. Kids today are missing out on all this cool stuff. Oh yeah let’s not forget the early pioneer of healthy eating Popeye. How many of us actually ate our spinach just so we could be like him? It’s a good thing we didn’t really look to hard at Popeye because to be truthful he was not really an attractive man.

The Importance of Dreaming: Far to often we are willing to accept only what the world gives us and we aren’t willing to push the envelope of what we believe to be real. Cartoons taught me that the law of gravity only applied if you looked down. They taught me that even though a lot of bad things can happen to you, getting hit with a frying pan, smashed by a boulder or hit by a truck, unless they kill you they just make you stronger. Maybe all that violence we were exposed to in classic cartoons were just a metaphor for life. Sometimes you’re going to get knocked down, blow up and strapped to a rather large bottle rocket but it is up to you to keep on trying and make the best of it. If you keep trying,just like the coyote you will eventually capture your own private roadrunner.

My generation may not be the “greatest generation” and we might not be that high on the technology food chain either. But what we are is a generation that knows the value of  laughter. We know the value of being able to remember facts about the world around us. We know how and why to get out of the rain, yet we also know the value of standing in the downpour just to feel it on our skin. Perfect? Nope we aren’t any where near that. Hopeful and Happy? I think we are. I can only imagine how smart we would be if we’d had the 24 hour cartoon channels when we were kids.

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