A few weeks ago I overheard a group of employees reminiscing about the ancient television phenomenon known as “saturday morning cartoons” as I sauntered through the radio room. Their conversation brought me back to my own childhood, growing up in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
A full nights slumber is disturbed by the cooing sounds of some unknown species of bird outside my window. The cool Colorado air and morning sunshine gently rouse me from my dreams. Dreams about things that 6th graders dream about, whatever that may be…I can’t remember now. Getting out of bed and wandering downstairs in my Star Wars pajamas. No need to get dressed, it’s Saturday.
Careful not to wake up my little brothers, because I want to watch cartoons in peace. Turn on the 15 channel television and flip the dials by hand until the colorful and inviting world of the Smurf’s catches my eye. Damn that Gargamel! What kind of hijinks will he and his cat be up to today? Ahhh, there’s Smurfette. The lone female amongst an entire civilization of males. What a sausage fest! And how in the hell do they repopulate Smurf Village? I guess it doesn’t really matter, but someone has to be “Smurfing” Smurfette, hopefully not Papa Smurf.
I know what your thinking, but yes…this was the shit going on in my head as a 6th grade boy. Young enough to enjoy the innocence of the cartoons, but old enough to question its credibility and challenge its sexual feasibility. I was stuck in a convoluted limbo between school age boy and rebellious pre-teen.
The Smurf’s are over, time for He-Man. I have to get all of my cartoons in before my little brothers wake up and evil step-sister comes over to visit for the weekend. That bitch will make me watch the Care Bears or even worse…Strawberry Fucking Shortcake. Because when she comes, He-Man is no longer the Master of the Universe…she is.
He-Man is rad and rad is the word we used to describe rad things back then as we wore our parachute pants and black and white checkered Vans. He-Man had a big ass sword and battled against the evils of Skeletor at his residence of Grayskull. And he did it while riding on the back of a fully armored Battle Cat. That is the perfect storm of awesome for a sixth grade kid.
He-Man’s over. Time for the best cartoon ever: G.I. Joe.
I worshipped G.I. Joe as a kid. I spent every dime I earned mowing lawns, pulling weeds, and shoveling snow covered driveways on collecting more of them. I still own my collection to this day. When I wasn’t playing with my G.I. Joe ACTION FIGURES (not dolls) I was watching those Real American Hero’s on my television on Saturday mornings. I watched every detail of the show and studied each characters mannerisms and personality. I was an expert on who did what and with what kind of weapon. I knew every characters name and what accessories came with them in toy form. The only thing that I didn’t like was the fact that during any cartoon battle, nobody ever got hit. That pissed me off. So did their first female character, “Scarlette”. She belonged at headquarters or working towards creating the WNBA. That was the 80’s and we hadn’t invented diversity yet.Girls needed to be saved by G.I. Joe, not at his side in battle.
Then there were the G.I. Joe public service announcements. They were cheesy, but it was OK because they were G.I. Joe…so fuck you haters.
We may not have invented diversity yet, but cartoons of the 80’s shirked from visual displays physical violence. But to get our fix, we had Tom and Jerry who came from a time when it was OK to display violence on a cartoon level to American children. They were old school, just like my other hero Popeye. I was not allowed to watch Tom and Jerry’s unsuccessful attempts at killing one another. My mom was (and still remains) a peace-loving hippie from the 60’s and she had no tolerance for displays of such violence in her home. Even the ongoing feud between Wiley E Coyote and the Roadrunner was questionable material for my fragile little mind.
I also was not allowed to listen to anything but classical music and was forced to watch broadway musicals on a frequent basis. She was and still is a figure skating instructor, so I learned how to figure skate early on as well. I know what your thinking and you are probably right. Luckily, I grew up with a healthy attraction for women, went from figure skating to hockey, and turned my childhood musical experience into an “appreciation for the arts”. But I’m getting off topic here, so I digress. Bottom line? No Tom and Jerry for this red-headed step child.
Transformers is on now and Transformers is lame. There is no realism to Transformers and to me realism is important. I don’t know why. All of my friends are into Transformers and moving away from G.I. Joe…no loyalty. Transformers are more expensive and complicated to transform from one thing to another. In battle, I don’t want to have to spend 5 minutes fumbling with Optimus Dickhole to get him battle ready. I mean come on, self-transforming robots from another world that mimic machines here on earth? That’s just stupid. I mean look how god damned complicated these things look…even on TV! Clearly THIS is a franchise not going anywhere.
I guess now I’m at an age where I can look down upon and judge the newest generation and how they do things. I’m sure my parents did it to my generation as well and so on and so on. But I miss those days of Saturday morning cartoons. For me they were the foundation that led to how we would form our outdoor play for the day. It was a time when I could just hop on my Huffy bike with no helmet on and ride down the block to a friend’s house and play with our G.I. Joes, armed only with our imagination and a recently viewed cartoon. Our parents could care less where we were as long as we were back by dinner. We drank water from the hose, played baseball, and used our imaginations a lot. Video games were very new and owned by a select few kids whose parents had purchased them an Atari. And even then, it was typically played with at night when we had to be home – never during the freedom of the daytime.
I’m all for the onset of technology such as the internet and video games, but I do feel a bit sad for the kids of today who will never know how much Saturday morning cartoons meant to my generation’s childhood.