Where did my Saturday morning go? When I was growing up, no one ever died. There were no random tragedies, villains were inevitably incompetent, and everything always worked out.I remember when I was just a young pup; I looked forward to the weekend. I would rouse insanely early, scurry into the living room and tune into my favourite Saturday morning cartoons. Those were the days, back when weekend television was wholesome and enjoyable. Parents didn’t have to worry about what their children were watching (at least between the hours of 5:30 am and noon), because the gore and violence that children are viewing today, was almost non-existent then.The shows I watched made tapioca pudding taste like the spiciest salsa. They were comical broadcasts such as The Smurfs, The Littles, and Rude Dog, and the Dweebs. These Saturday skits were jam-packed with the side-splitting laughter, the on-edge excitement, and the “joie de vivre” that is missing from the drivel now emerging on television screens across the world. And in between episodes, commercials would remind us to drink our milk.In my day, cartoons actually served a purpose. They depicted situations that every child has dealt with in one form or another (handling bullies, dealing with peer pressure, and making new friends), with simple yet effective situations. These cartoons always depicted a group of friends (animals, humans, or creatures), and how they dealt with the trials of life. As far-fetched as their lives may have been, the child could always relate to these “heroes.” These characters were the types of role models a child should have. They always used common sense to solve their problems, unlike the so called live action animation heroes of today who kill first and think second.In my day, cartoons always had a moral embedded within the story. These animations taught the youth that good can always triumph over evil, and, if one has faith and a few close friends, then the world is really not that bad of a place. these colourful childish sitcoms were made for amusement, to momentarily remove the child from the harshness of society, and transport his or her spirit to a happier peaceful place, not to engulf him or her with the fiery pitfalls of humanity.
Conflict was inevitable no matter the situation; there was always a villain or two trying to muck things up. One villain who stands out in my mind is Gargamel, from “The Smurfs”; now there was a baddie if I have ever seen one. He was always trying to thwart the helpful nature of the Smurfs with some half-cocked scheme. And like Sisyphus (the founder of Corinth who was doomed to push a boulder up-hill for eternity), he was doomed to failure. There was no need for violence, as this villain could always be defeated by amazing coincidence, cleverness, greed, and astounding stupidity.
That was then and this is now. The world of Saturday morning has become a darker distortion of its former self. Every channel is now splattered with vulgar imagery, depicting the death and destruction of crudely drawn caricatures geared toward the adolescent. The sugar-coated goodness I grew up watching has been replaced with flashy “Japanimation” such as Pokemon, Card Captors, YU-GI-O, and Digimon, each a clone of the latter. cartoons have simply become violent half-hour commercials whose only objective is to unload merchandise upon impressionable young viewers. The thought that has been put into the story lines is minimal at best; the plots, meaningless; and the characters, lacking any real character at all. Society has shifted from a euphoric Shangri-La to a world based solely on merchandise and violent media, and as a result childhood is lost.Where is the Saturday morning that I used to know? It is needed now, more than ever.