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Kontemporary Kartoons

John Moe

Weekend America's John Moe was once a dedicated watcher of Warner Bros. cartoons. He would sit and watch them with his dad, and to this day he isn't sure who enjoyed it more. Today, John's own son faithfully tunes into cartoons every Saturday morning, but John finds it difficult to enjoy them. They're not funny, for one thing, more action oriented. But it's not the seriousness. The cartoons that John's son enjoys all follow a similar theme: Regular children in a magical world, beset with monsters, and fighting battles. Adults, as in dads, just don't really matter.


I grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons, just like Billy Collins.

No, actually "watch" sounds too passive. I worshipped at the altar of Saturday morning cartoons. I loved them truly and deeply. I would start getting excited about Saturday morning on Wednesday afternoon. And yeah, I was all about Looney Tunes. Daffy especially. I loved that psychotic duck.

What I loved even more was the fact that I would watch Looney Tunes every week with my dad. Him with his coffee, me with a bowl of sugary cereal. Dad had great fondness for Wiley E. Coyote.

Right now my son Charlie isn't listening to this program. He's watching Saturday morning cartoons. But even when I can, I usually don't watch cartoons with my son. It's not that I don't want to spend time with Charlie. The problem is the cartoons that are on.

Shows like "Dinosaur King," "Sonic X," something called "Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds." My son devoutly follows a show called "Chaotic." In it, these kids go back and forth between reality and an alternate universe where tribes of subterranean people fight (or something).

A lot of these shows are like this: Children forced to find their way in a magical world, monsters all over the place, big vigorous battles where no one gets killed but everyone gets terrified. Often there are collectible cards. But for the most part, the one thing the cartoons lack is grownups. And the cartoons are serious.

There are no silly meta-jokes slipped in for parents the way Warner Brothers used to do. No literary or historical references. They don't make 'em like that anymore. Listen to me: They don't make 'em like that anymore.

I miss out on this time with my son. I know it's wrong. I should bring out a couple of bowls of cereal and join him. I should let cartoons be for me what they are for him. I should adapt. I should stop wanting my world with my son to be a remake of the 1970s memory of time with my own dad, who has since passed away.

Instead I usually linger in a different room.

But this morning I heard chuckles from the other room.

Charlie was watching this show "Skunk Fu," about a martial arts skunk. We sat side by side for a while enjoying cartoon animals hilariously hurting each other.

Then the serious cartoons started, and I left to host the show.

  • Music Bridge:
    CMS Sequence
    Artist: Sea and Cake
    CD: Car Alarm (Czyz)


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