Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Cartoon as social commentary?

Sometimes I wonder if people writing kids' cartoons can get away with saying stuff that more grown-up shows wouldn't touch.

There's a show on Cartoon Network called Johnny Test. I'm not a big fan of it but have occasionally watched an episode while waiting for something else to come on. It's essentially the adventures of a pre-teen boy, his talking dog. And his two super-genius inventor sisters.

Anyway, in this episode, the girls gave Johnny and Dukey (the dog) super powers. Because they asked for them. But then they found out that having super powers kind of stunk, because the citizens of the city were CONSTANTLY demanding to be saved from stuff...they started doing dumb stuff because they knew that Johnny and Dukey would swoop in and save them. And eventually, they began demanding help for stuff like opening peanut butter jars.

And Johnny and Dukey got really sick of it - they couldn't play video games, or sleep, or even go to the bathroom without being interrupted by someone needing something from them.

So they approached the sisters. The girls explained that they needed to be "destroyed," because otherwise the people in the town would never stop being stupid and demanding more stuff from them.

Hm. If you have someone who swoops in and saves you from every idiocy you commit, you begin to commit more. And you come to depend on that entity to swoop in.


At any rate, in the end, to fix things, the girls had to dress up as intergalactic super villains and threaten to destroy the town...unless the people stopped doing stupid things and started depending on their own selves to do stuff.

I don't know, I may be seeing that all through my own "lens," but that struck me as an interesting parable...almost like The Boy Who Cried Wolf kind of turned inside out in a way.

(And yeah, I do think a lot of people have gotten to the point where they expect the government or some agency or something to come in and "save" them, when they really just need to take care of themselves and be responsible).

FWIW, the show is produced in Canada, so my "don't expect the government to save you, kids" message may not actually be there. Or, then again, it might. I don't know. It just struck me funny.

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