Cat Fancies: In Defense of Animation

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Hey grownies (like kiddies, but better!), you can regularly watch cartoons and be fine — take it from your ever-reliable, mostly intact columnist, here. I say this because there exists a common misconception that watching animations equates with immaturity. This assumption stems from the fact that most popular cartoons are geared toward a young demographic. And Great Thor forbid people watch anything that’s not geared toward their age group!

I grew up in two different entertainment-consuming worlds as a result of my parents’ divorce. One was a world of censorship, the other of freedom. As a free child, I could watch whatever I wanted within reason. As a constrained child, cartoon channels were blocked from DirecTV listings and considered something that would stunt my growth. Shows as innocent as “Rugrats” were expounded as corrosive.

So, surprise, surprise: I preferred being free. This meant that I could choose my own adventure and develop my own tastes. When you’re ordered around, tastes are thrust upon you. This dichotomy of worlds allowed me to appreciate my intervals of freedom and examine the faults in censorship. And when you come of age, you’re stigmatized against watching cartoons in this way even more. But this should not deter you from your viewing pleasures.

You see, there is nothing innately immature about the medium of animation. If Jack’s French girl drawings can be sophisticated, why should the act of imbuing those drawings with movement evoke a sense of childishness? Well, it shouldn’t. The League of Men Who Dwell in Their Mothers’ Basements are not a direct descendent of any particular formation of lines. And if you need further proof, my love for cartoons only resides in the basement of my brain — without mi madre. Okay, no need to turn into groanies.

But really, animation expands beyond intended children’s demographics. There are a lot of cartoons that retain their accessibility to those of us who age. As an adult, I can now even better appreciate the writing and better understand the jokes of a lot of cartoons, like “Powerpuff Girls” and “Spongebob Squarepants.” Granted, this assessment doesn’t apply to all cartoons — I’m not usually confronted with the blistering urge to respond to my computer screen whenever Dora the Explorer asks me questions. Not that I watch “Dora the Explorer” or anything.

And then there is the phenomenon where these usually children-oriented formats become geared toward adults. We see complex, suspenseful storylines in anime dramas like “Death Note.” “South Park” has been the go-to animated raunch-fest since 1997. I witness my peers nerding out over “Adventure Time” on a frequent basis. There’s this mature-rated thing called hentai that some people are into. There’s even a whole schedule block called Adult Swim dedicated to these kinds of cartoons (well, maybe not the last one). Look at that variation!

So you’ve been wondering, “What’s the big hullabaloo about cartoons in the first place?” (That was a direct quote from your thoughts, FYI.) Well, fellow grownie, there are quite a few reasons that they’re great to watch. Of course, shows you watched as a kid provide an indulgence of nostalgia. In contrast with live-action settings, the creator has more control over how to portray the story. Also, cartoons lend themselves better to surreal physical situations. Before the effects used in “Space Jam” were invented, “Looney Tunes” was the ideal format for Wile E. Coyote to suspend in the air before he falls to what never is his death. There are certain aspects of cartoons that you can’t get elsewhere.

It’s totally acceptable to be an avid cartoon connoisseur at any age. I even recommend it. Let’s not discriminate against drawings. You’d be culturally deprived if you didn’t observe the genius that often takes the animated form. Maybe we could watch something together sometime and not be all childish about it.

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