What have cartoons done for you?
Has it been a route of escapism from a dull life? Have they made you laugh? Have they made you cry? Have they made you rethink people, society, or even made you rethink yourself?
They have for me.
You can deny it if you want to, but cartoons have had a huge impact on the culture surrounding us. Not just in entertainment, either. There are many animated cartoons that have taken stances politically. Some of them you might even relate to. If you watch an episode of Family Guy, it’s very topical! Same with South Park, or even Steven Universe which has a lot of connections with the LGTBQ community. They allow a voice to those those whom are rarely heard. They provide a good platform.
They provide a different means of storytelling. They intrigued a certain audience. They’ll cater to that audience and also provide new ideas, like how the Magic School Bus did for many us in elementary school. I was encourage to get messy and make mistakes!
Cartoons have been mostly thought of for children, and I think that’s the wrong mindset. Not only do we have cartoons for adults (which is the most common argument), you have to remember that cartoons are produced by adults. Adults that have done research. Adults that have thought up characters and, most of the time, carefully written story-arcs made specifically for children (or the child at heart), even when they’re nonsensical or serious.
Really, cartoons can allow anything to happen. They provide a means for thoughts to be fully fleshed out and brought to life. Making cartoons is just as important as writing carefully: you have to be careful in the way you show a story, not just tell it. One example of how a cartoon really impacted how I saw the world was Rugrats. The creators of that show were very deliberate with what story they wanted to tell, and what they wanted to show to it’s younger audience. It’s because of Rugrats that I was introduced to Judaism.
What makes it interesting was that even though I was raised a Christian, and went to church, “Jew” was only a word to me. It wasn’t so much that they tried to deliberately leave out Judaism. We just mostly focused on Jesus and other Bible stories that never really focused on the history or culture. Rugrats gave me some insight on Jewish culture.
Another way that I was impacted was how cartoons, animation and comics in general, provided a new hobby for me. I started drawing. Drawing took up a huge part of my life. I would constantly draw characters and different worlds. I thought I would be apart of PIXAR growing up. As a matter of fact, I did my high school senior project on the innovation the company provided. I, for sure, thought I was going to be an animator when I grew up. However, I really couldn’t afford the top art schools in the country that would help me set off my career, so I stayed settled in Nashville, still waiting for my turn. One day, I really would like to participate in a company that creates animated shows.
So now, I study them. It might be just a sorry excuse to just watch cartoons all the time, but it’s a legitimate business that’s very complicated. Not many people know what goes on in the world of animating, and I would love to open that up to people. I’d like other people to relate to my excitement.
[Pictures from Magic School Bus, Rugrats and Wander Over Yonder]