I’m watching a classic christmas cartoon right now. You know, the one about the reindeer with a red nose. And it’s kind of strange to watch it as an adult, with little kids in my life. Granted, they aren’t mine. They are my sisters, but I love them like they are mine. And as I sit here watching the little reindeer run off with the miner and the little person that wanted to be a dentist, I am thinking about something that my sister posted about Little B and a cartoon that she recently watched. It was a beautiful cartoon, probably my absolute favourite cartoon ever. I think it first aired on TV in 1982. There’s no speech whatsoever, with only a soundtrack to accompany the pictures. And basically it was about a boy and his adventures with his snowman from the morning just before he built the snowman to the next morning when he discovers his snowman friend has melted. Like I said, It was a beautifully done cartoon with a great soundtrack but it also had a sad ending and unfortunately my 2 1/2 year old niece was quite upset at the end when the boy discovered his snowman had melted away. Oh the tragedy!
So I was telling this story to my friends at work and one of the ladies was telling me about when her son was still young, how she screened everything, especially books, before letting her son read them. And the way she described the content of two specific books, I’m flabbergasted that anyone would think it was suitable for kids. I’m even more flabbergasted that one of the books she mentions was actually turned into a movie.
Anyways it got me thinking about what is acceptable to show the kids, especially during the holiday season. And as I watch the classic cartoon with the red nosed reindeer, I see blatant bullying, from the adult reindeers who tell the young ones to exclude the odd deer out. There is clear male chauvinism when Papa deer tells Mama deer to stay home because it was “Man’s work”. And then of course there is the obvious bad guy, the furry monster that wanted to eat them all. With the obvious bad guy monster, there is the obvious good guy, or in this case, good deer and all children will understand the blatant good vs bad but what about the less than blatant? There is a place for misfits and it is the good guys that must come in to save the day. There is the odd looking reindeer and the little person that doesn’t want to make toys and they aren’t treated very well when their differences come to light.
As an adult, I see this now, as a child, it was a cartoon. But did these subtle lessons affect me while I was growing up? Will it affect my nieces and nephew when they start watching these cartoons? Will Little B be upset with snowmen now? When I play with my other niece, Little Z, she likes to be the bad guy, but does she really know what it means to be a bad guy? We play “monster hands”, but how will this change when she really sees a monster, in this classic cartoon?
I find it sad how we have to screen these classics now, but it is also a different world now, from when I was a child, just like how it was different for my mom when she was a child. I have to say that I don’t remember much from when I was 2 1/2 years old. But hearing about Little B and her reaction to a cartoon, that spoke no words, that only had music and pictures, there is clear understanding in what she sees. How she will take what she saw and integrate it into her personality, we will probably never know, but still, she understood what she saw and that is enough for me to screen my favourite cartoon classics.