By Zach Blinke
Times are changing. Culture is evolving, adapting and changing. To go along with that, the medium of television for entertainment is changing as well. A staple in my childhood was coming home from a long day of school and flipping on the TV to indulge in one of life’s more simple pleasures. I seem to remember hours on end of witty jokes, each half hour block crammed with humor, a short rapid plot development, and a quick fix for laughter, but still leaving you with some form of satisfaction. I’m talking about cartoons.
More recently however, the amount of procrastination I’ve been doing has led me to find a lot of free time. Some of it goes to the scientific investigation of goes to watching cartoons. I’m not speaking of South Park or Family Guy shows catering to my generation, but the programs of which are aimed at the youth of America, popularized by stations such as Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. When I look at what the gold mine of my childhood entertainment has become, I become sickened.
Long gone are the days of Hey Arnold, Rocket Power and Dexter’s Lab. Past are the dog days of the Cul De Sack in Ed, Edd, and Eddy. Sure, the jokes weren’t always the most thought out, but it was genuinely funny. There was depth. Going back and watching the shows of my childhood still provide me with laughter and joy. Perhaps I might be blinded by nostalgia goggles, but more importantly I think it was me being able to still find something to laugh at.
I think the most apparent change in childhood television that a lot of people might notice is the development of Spongebob Squarepants. A cartoon that started around the beginning of the new millennium created a new vision of Nickelodeon for millions. The show took the network by storm, winning over the hearts and minds of a nation. While providing something to laugh at, there was also something else to be gained. The show promoted being a better person. The protagonist is a hard working citizen who is nice to absolutely everyone, trying to be the best he can be, under just about every circumstance.
For better or worse, he would give 110%, trying to do everything right, accepting failures and moving on. Squidward was always in a grouchy mood, but at the same time, he was disrespectful, and as a result, unhappy. The show taught lessons without being upfront about it. Every character had a purpose within the show, perhaps to cater to some psychological need of the children. But as time went on, the intelligence behind the show began to dwindle. The jokes became simply slapstick instead of subtle innuendos. The characters are no longer smart and dynamic, but are loud and obnoxious one trick ponies.
Once again, I will say it might have just been a child’s imagination that has left such a fond impression of the past on me. But I truly feel there was a drastic change in kid shows around 2005 that might have an effect on the upbringing of America’s youth. Or maybe I just spent one too many hours watching Nickelodeon reruns instead of doing math problems, so these sort of problems seem relevant to me.