I was enjoying dinner at Kobe's with my family and mom's friend's family, and I overhear something. My mom's friend was telling her daughter that they were going to have to cut down on time watching Spongebob. She claimed that Nick "getting worse," that watching TV all the time was not good (fair enough) and that it wasn't as bad as when I and my siblings watched Nickelodeon. That we watched harmless stuff like Pokemon.
That emoticon was short for my kneejerk reaction of "this is No Country for Old Men Syndrome
" (that she's putting the past in rose-colored vision when the opposite is true) So I tell her some stories. I'm 26 now, and when Nickelodeon was my thing, I was watching reruns of Loony Tunes. I've seen them all.
There's probably not a single one I haven't seen. And if you look back at those old cartoons (some dating during WW2), they were a lot more violent in relation to what you see now. Various characters getting shot in the face or crushed with anvils. Spongebob doesn't have a singe gun.
And of course, plenty of racism too. Back then I wouldn't have batted an eye or recognized it as racism. Now I see an old episode with my ROTC buddies where Bugs Bunny is in the Pacific being chased by buck-toothed Japanese, and I go "wow, I can't believe I watched this stuff."
Then there's Pokemon. I introduced the concept of what an anime is to her, and tell her that Pokemon was a Japanese cartoon that is brought to America after some serious gutting and cutting to make sure everything is nice and politically correct. Pokemon is not the best example. Sailor Moon
however, is. My sister got a DVD box set with every episode (she must have some cool friends.) And the real deal is terrifyingly violent sometimes. There's also the hilarious stuff like gay-couple Zoecite and Malechite changing the more feminine villian to a female in America (standard localization operating procedure!) Then there's One Piece but I'm not familiar with that franchise.
She's a MAN in JAPAN, BABY!
I also give her this heads up: she's not entirely wrong about Nickelodeon being worse in certain ways. Back then, Viacom had their hooks in Nickelodeon. Viacom as in MTV
. Mom didn't let me watch that channel for obvious reasons. And to this day I don't watch it for reasons that are obvious to you and me: that shit fucking sucks
. I'd probably have an anneurism if I watched it for more than five minutes.
But around the time Spongebob was exploding in popularity, we were all crying out because Invader Zim was getting canceled, I was making my own money to get video games, my television watching days came to a grinding halt. I noticed that in afternoon events on Nickelodeon, you had Carson Daily talking in between shows on Nick, talking about the usual Top 40 artists, and I was thinking to myself "what the hell, Viacom." The channel was prepping these kids to make a switch to MTV. I wasn't a part of that, but my little brother and sister were. They can watch whatever they want at this point. Why my sister finds that sludge compelling to this day, I'll never know.
But I haven't watched daytime children viewing in a long time, and I told her I'd research and ask more because this got me curious. What is the state of children's television these days and what can she do more as a parent? Watch these shows individually and figure out what's good or not?
I think I'll rent some Spongebob DVDs. I need to get caught up.