In the 1960’s, cartoons like The Flintstones and Popeye the Sailor were all made to simply entertain the masses. They were funny little moving pictures that parodied society and brought families closer. Then sometime in the 70’s, everyone realized that cartoons have the potential to make a lot of money, and suddenly cartoons were aimed towards kids. Shows like the Superfriends series or Josie and the Pussycats thrived on the attention kids gave them. Then after watching the show, kids would turn to their parents for the toys. It’s a vicious and expensive cycle that still continues today.
But to get away with all this advertising, show creators had to add a “lesson” to each episode they made. (“Bad guys never win!” and “Don’t do drugs!” were just some popular ones.) This gave some show real plots. They were never “great” plots, but they were legitimate stories that kids could follow. Most cartoons followed this setup for years. Yes, there were some legendary black sheep (Animaniacs, Looney Tunes) that stole the show, but that was it. This was the limit people felt cartoons could go. Yet today, this is no longer the case.
Today, cartoons are treated with more dignity. A perfect example of this would be the channel Cartoon Network. One show on Cartoon Network currently airing is Steven Universe. Steven Universe is a show about a quirky kid with a gem on his belly who fights monsters with other people who have gems. In only eleven minutes, this show manages to tackle gender identity and consent while still getting to the “Bad guys never win!” ending. This is all possible because Cartoon Network is allowing it’s creators to go beyond selling merchandise. Cartoons today are finally being modernized and it’s all happening with Cartoon Networks help. The best part of all this is that these shows are still being targeted towards kids! Shows like Adventure Time and We Bare Bears are not only fun to look at, but even have fleshed out plots to engage kids even further.
Cartoons still have a ways to go in the evolution department, but the future seems bright, so here’s to more amazing, and beautiful animations!