I've been watching cartoons all my life. They are the reason I wanted to become a writer. To share my own ideas with the rest of the world. I am lowkey a cartoon expert and over the years I have looked back to the cartoons I watched as a kid in an attempt to capture that childhood nostalgia. But after everything I've watched there is some stuff that grinds my gears even to this day. And I'm going to tell you about them.
1. The Word Destroy
For the longest time in cartoons, studios would force writers to censor out certain words they deemed inappropriate for children. Obviously, we can't have Tommy Pickles cursing up a storm on 'Rugrats' but some words that were censored back then just come off as cringy today. The word that annoys me the worst is "destroy". The word was often used as a replacement for the word kill or murder and sure, murder is a very strong word. But kids know what killing is by the time they are eight. By that age that probably have seen that Disney movie "All Dogs go to Heaven" so the concept of death is not something new to them. Epic cartoons of the past used to give these antagonist well scripted lines of dialogue that were pleasant to listen to. But then you throw the word destroy into the mix and now it just sounds childish. Thankfully it looks like cartoons today are not shying away from the word. Take the new show "Amphibia" (2019-) that just released on Disney. The company aired the pilot on their YouTube channel a few days before airing it on cable and I got the chance to watch it. The dialogue is well balanced with both childish and mature language.
2. The use of laser guns
If you know me, you know I hate guns. I have in the past gone to protest like The March for Our Lives advocating for gun control after all the senseless shootings happening in America. I hate the whole concept of guns. A weapon that has the power to take someone's life in an instance. But just because I don't like guns in the real world, it doesn't mean I outright don't want them in my entertainment. Laser guns are cool for shows and movies like Star Wars. It makes sense in the concept of that universe and allows the viewer to be transported to a fascinating new world. But the problem lies when these laser guns are introduced into a more grounded cartoon universe. In 2013, Cartoon Network released a new animated Batman cartoon called "Beware the Bat". This show aired around the same time the Colorado movie theater massacre took place. A shooting that involved an individual opening fire on movie goers as they watched the recently released "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012). The cartoon was delayed a bit and the animation team worked to replace any actual guns in the show with laser blaster ones. And I understand that it was right after a tragedy so I can see where Warner Bros. PR team was coming from, but at the same time I understand that a cartoon is a cartoon. Twelve-year-old me seeing a gun in a Batman cartoon was not going to make me think DC Comics does not care about the victims of the shooting. Just a minor nitpick I have.
3. Stories too watered down
Steven Universe (2013-)Giphy
Cartoons are not just for kids. Sure, in the past they were used to sell toys, especially in the 80s. But cartoons are a medium that can allow writers to tell stories that are impossible to tell. I hate the stigma that all cartoons are just for children. A lot of the time stories are watered down or dismissed just on the sheer factor that it's a cartoon. Shows like "Star vs. The Forces of Evil" (2015-2019) and "Steven Universe" (2013-) are more than just a few filler episodes. "Steven Universe" for example deals with themes of LGBT and sometimes in other countries these stories are cut down or even out right censored and edited. I am not an avid cartoon watcher as I was in the day so I can't speak for every cartoon but there are possibly more examples of this out there.
4. Wackiness for the sake of wackiness
Teen Titans Go! (2013-)Giphy
Cartoons can be wacky. There are no problems with that at all. SpongeBob is an example of a cartoon that can sometimes be super wacky and outlandish. But the problem a lot of the time there are cartoons where characters are wacky for the sake of being wacky. Where each character has no other personality. The show that comes to mind is "Teen Titans Go!" (2013-). Now this show has had hundreds of episodes produced and even a theatrical film. It's Cartoon Network's biggest gold mind right now but from a writing standpoint I cringe. I chuckle at a joke maybe once or twice per episode but that's it. A chuckle. I just have a pent-up rage with that cartoon and sometimes it just annoys me how each character is the same. They are all wacky and irresponsible for the sake of the story.
5. Gross out humor
Bugs Bunny in Looney TunesGiphy
Gross out humor is gross. Plain and simple. When I was a kid, I never went out of my way to watch or laugh at gross out humor. I never got the appeal for it. Even when I grew up into my teenage years, surrounded by boys at a private high school I never laughed at these jokes. It just isn't funny to me. That's it.
That's my list. Like I said, one of my hobbies today is to try and capture that childhood nostalgia and watch the shows I used to watch. To see if they still hold up and to pick up all the trivial stuff scattered around. Cartoons to me is a hobby and trying to keep those memories is something I strive for every day. A simpler time, a happier time.