A Weird One, About Cartoons

Hey you gals! I’m gonna do something a little different today.  This one is not going to be timely (obviously) or about books (gasp!). And, because I’m feeling more chatty than analytical, it’s probably gonna be a rambly one. Also, if you’re really invested in the super cool dude persona I’ve been putting forward, be warned, it’s about to get wrecked (or is that a good thing? I don’t really what the kids say these days). By reading this article you’re buying yourself a one-way ticket to the centre of my ooey-gooey, nerd heart. But! There’s still going to be a recommendation or two or ten woven in through here so…enjoy?

Anywho! I was motivated to write this one because I found out something scandalous about a co-worker the other day. Something so dark, so horrific, so disgusting, that I felt obliged to give you a moment to prepare yourself. Are you ready? Okay.

She doesn’t like anything animated at all.

Any of them. No Disney, no Pixar, no anime, no Simpsons (even back when it was good), no Archer, no Ghibli, no nothin. Not even Rick and Morty (which is definitely the best animated show being made right now, and up there as one of the best of all time. It can be a little hard for some people to get into, because Rick in the first episode or two is a little more gross and obnoxious and perpetually shitfaced than he becomes later on. I had a hard time with it too, but after getting through the first two episodes I fell deep in. It’s just so smart and weird and aware of itself, so well done. It’s the best)!!

It’s such a strange thing to be against, to not like it when people draw stories, rather than act them out. I get it if you’re not into animations made specifically for kids (not really though, I’m just trying to be nice. Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zootopia, Batman the Animated Series, The Incredibles, Toy Story, The Lion King, The fucking Iron Giant, you heartless monster), but animation covers such a huge range of topics.

Let’s go up a notch, to mid-range young adult. If you can’t get anything out of Legend of Korra, I don’t know how to help you. It has a capable, confident, strong female lead and a cast made entirely of people of colour. It teaches teenagers about relationships (surprise gay ending!), growing up, hard work, coming to grips with having power in the world, dealing with failure and fear, and, maybe most crucially, understanding people with opposing points of view. Every character is well written and treated with empathy, even the Big Bads. The villains are villains in that show not because of their ideals, but because they’re extremists. None of them are completely wrong. One wants to bring equality to those born without the magic that helps to make this universe run, one wants to help the physical world and the spiritual world find peace and coexistence (sort of. Unalaq is, admittedly, the least justifiable of the lot), one is trying to topple the old, rotten monarchies of the world, and one is trying to put the pieces of a country shattered by terrorism back together, to take control, to make things safe (I think I may have written this just so I could slobber all over Legend of Korra for a bit). There’s a whole season dedicated to coming to terms with trauma, coming to terms with the fact that you failed, and at the end of it (even though there’s a big punch up), Korra uses empathy and understanding to talk the villain into surrendering. It’s so, so good.

You want something even more adult? Cartoons got you covered. Rick and Morty (obviously), Archer, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies, and, how could we forget, Bojack Horseman. Bojack is such a strange show, only slightly less funny than it is sad. It’s about how complicated adult relationships are, what existing in the world is like for a person who makes mistakes, and taking a good, honest look at every part of a person, even the bad bits (especially the bad bits). There’s a whole episode where Bojack drives up to see an old, alienated friend of his that is dying from cancer (Stanley Tucci, my hollywood hubby), to apologize for abandoning him. In any other show they would fight a little bit and then come to terms, but at the end of this one his friend tells him that he doesn’t forgive him, he never will, and to get out of his house. There isn’t always absolution and he’s just going to have to live with that. The episode ends with Bojack, miserable, quietly driving home. Woof.

Anyways, there’s tons of good, unique, really smart animated stuff out there. I could keep writing and writing and writing about my favs (seriously though, do you want me to? Cause I could write about the great writing and educational benefits of todays cartoons versus cartoons when I was a kid until my fingers fell off), but that’s probably time better spent getting out there to discover them for yourself. But before I go I want to ask ya’ll two questions, and if you could actually answer them for me that would be great.

  1. Is this dislike of animation a common thing? Do any of you have it? And if you do, why do you think?
  2. Was this post okay for errybody? I love books, both reading and writing about them, but everyone now and again I want to ramble on about something else. If ya’ll hated it, and never want to see it again, I guess next time I feel like talking about something I’ll just write it down on a piece of paper and burn it in my kitchen sink, keeping my lighter handy in case the fire gets put out by my tears.

Ta ta for now!

VBR

PS. One more thing about Korra and then I’ll stop, I promise. It has my favourite mentor to mentee relationship since Buffy. So much respect and affection and trust. When Korra says she can handle something, even if Tenzin is worried about her, he always believes her. He never condescends. Love it.

PPS. I’m a big proponent of just liking what you like, no matter what (which also means disliking what you like), but try not to dismiss entire mediums for telling stories until you’ve experience at least a little bit of the variety they have to offer, okay?

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