Children’s cartoons have changed from what it was when I was growing up in the 80’s. The stories from my childhood conveniently fit into a Good vs Evil storylines. Joe vs Cobra, Voltron Force vs Prince Lotor, Autobots vs Decepticons, He-Man vs Skeletor. All virtuous heros overcoming enemies bent on destruction.
Today, cartoons for children seems (young children in particular) to center on the conflict between a virtuous hero and an unfortunate circumstance. Bob the Builder and Handy Manny are examples that come to mind. At first, I saw almost no value in these shows because I was trying to understand them in the context of Good vs Evil. And a hero without an adversary seems pretty pointless.
But programs centering on Good vs Evil have also changed. The story lines have gone from a virtuous hero defending humanity to complicated protagonists fighting what are slightly more complicated antagonists. There are some comical stories framed as Good vs Evil, but since they are comical it is better described as Good vs Incompetence.
So here I am with 2 young boys. Their viewing choices are either story lines:
- glorifying problem solving, working together and getting a long
- story lines depicting the the virtuous as helpless victims only to be saved by heros that are almost as terrible as their enemies. Oh and zombies. Lots of zombies.
And there seems to be almost nothing in between those two extremes.
These two extremes contribute heavily to why I preview shows my boys maybe interested in watching. This isn’t (always) to give a stamp of approval. I don’t shield them from everything I don’t think they are ready to see. I try to prepare myself for the questions they’ll ask to make sense of what they were watching. They’re young and still ask me questions to learn about the world around them. All to soon, they’ll get more information from their friends.
But don’t get me wrong. There are some shows I tell them they aren’t old enough for yet.
Any other parents out there going through this? Let me know in the comments.