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Cartoon Culture

Cartoon Q&A


In today’s edition of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, television columnist Tom Jicha answers reader’s mail. Here is a slightly edited version of today’s first question (you can read the complete version here):

Q. What do you think of adults watching cartoons? Since your sense of humor is counterintuitive, I assume you won’t even dignify an adult watching a cartoon. But the writing in cartoons is sometimes brilliant and the jokes go way over most kids’ heads. I’d appreciate your opinion on adult cartoon watching. – S.E., via e-mail

A. If you’re out of your teens and still watching Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, I don’t think I’d want you baby-sitting my kids. But The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Family Guy and South Park are among the smartest shows on TV. Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim apparently has some gems, too, although they’re not on my TiVo Season-Pass list. Going back a bit, Rocky and Bullwinkle worked for adults and kids for different reasons. I still get a kick out of those on DVD.

Well I don’t know about you, but as someone who still enjoys Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck – often over the antics of South Park and Family Guy – I’m insulted. Couldn’t Jicha have chosen two other characters to make his point than Bugs and Donald? Couldn’t he have used Clifford and Blue’s Clues? What would you suggest?

  • Nic Kramer

    I can only imagine Donald’s and Bugs’ reaction to Tom’s wrong sounding opinion.

  • Ron

    I’m originally from Miami and I can tell you that the Sun Sentinel is a joke. Nobody reads that paper. If it were in the Miami Herald then I’d be worried. It’s like comparing the New York Post (that’s the one that the Moonies own right?) to the New York Times. Big Difference. My point being, of course people are going to say stupid things in a paper that no one takes seriously anyway. This isn’t worth our attention.

  • The answer proves how out-of-touch the writer is with contemporary cartoons. The animated shows he names are only four of the biggest animated shows of the last fifteen years, and all of them written for adult audiences. As for other examples, I’d say Scooby-Doo, Rugrats, or anything that sounds remotely Japanese. If I had to pick the babysitter with Looney Tunes volume 2 or the sitter with season one of Naruto, I’m pickin’ the first kid.

  • Autumn

    I live in South Florida too and I have to agree with Ron. No one takes the writers of the Sun Sentinel seriously. That guy obviously has no idea what he’s talking about cartoon wise. Shows like Family Guy and South Park often insult my intelligence, and are kind of immature. I’d much rather have someone watching Bugs or Donald watching MY kids. He seems SO out of touch.

  • Tom

    It’s infuriating how stupid some people are, but also how willing some people are to create a controversy out of nothing to get more attention. I’d wager that, as stupid as this Tom character is, he’s not THAT stupid. Here I am commenting on something that some half-wit television critic wrote that appeared in a local newspaper in the most benighted state in the Union; something I would never have done for any other issue that paper would have chosen to feature.

    As for the ‘meat’ of his comment: I grew up in a house where we watched cartoons just about every day. We watched them with my father, too. I look around and see Looney Tunes and Disney characters on the clothing and vehicles of adults up into their 80s. Cartoons are a many-billion dollar business, and there is more original television animation now than there ever has been. I think that this has been settled years ago, and that the people have spoken. If he is on the level with his assessment of animation and animation viewers, this boob is so out of touch that his editors might want to take a look at exactly who has been stealing his paycheck all this time..

  • Hm. So THAT’S why I got turned down at so many babysitting jobs. I thought it was my B.O. that turned them off.

  • According to Chuck Jones, he & the rest of the Termite Terrace residents made Bugs Bunny for themselves–which means for adults! I think this writer grew up watching too much Three Robonic Stooges.

  • According to Chuck Jones, he & the rest of the Termite Terrace residents made Bugs Bunny for themselves–which means for adults! I think this writer spent too many Saturday’s as a kid watching Three Robonic Stooges.

  • That person is a dip stick. I do like Family Guy & Southpark, but I’ll take Looney Tunes & Donald over that ANY day. You should let your kids watch Looney Tunes or they are NOT going to turn out right. Believe me, you should see the kids arounds here. They throw baseball’s in a flamboyant way. I bet their mothers said no to Looney Tunes……

  • Just goes to show how sad some people in the world really are. If you can only think of major animated series to name as cartoons you “watch” and your job is a “television editor” you most likely are unhappy with your job, even more so if you think rocky and bull winkle was good. As for his kids, if they are even remotely realted to this guy I wouldn’t want to watch them anyway.

  • animalmother

    who the hell is this guy and why is his opinion important?

  • Excuse me, but–how idiotic.
    Someone, quick–inform this writer that Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and even the most puerile of the MGMs were created for ADULT audiences, not just for teenagers, not for kids and certainly not for babies. Okay, to be absolutely deferential to historical fact much of Disney’s shorts output was skewed towards “the entire family” audience, but the entire animation *community* would have been mortified to be seen as appealing to only one segment in their work–not to mention the exhibitors and and the releasing studios’ mortification at that prospect, for heaven’s sake.

    This fellow’s simply making it obvious that his knowlege of film history–and American history at that–is, um, not so hot. What about the wartime cartoons, when many taboos were winked at/outright ignored for the sake of a stressed audience engaged in a horrific world war? What about the loads of sex, violence, innuendo and adult gags(by which I mean humor aimed squarely at married, middle-american working class folks, as in everything from the Jack Benny-inspired Freleng mouse cartoons to the Goofy/Jack Kinneys)?

    Boy, this really drives home again what “killed” American animation’s status as a film art form: television. The creation of the cheap, afternoon programming packages of AIP stuff that included Paramount and WB…the Mickey Mouse Club, even. Just killed off the reality, the pedigree, of all those decades of Bugs Bunny shown seconds before “White Heat”, for God’s sake! Sorry, but to suggest that a person who enjoys adult entertainment like Bugs Bunny is a nut or a pervert/pederast…that’s just too much.

  • Greg Ehrbar

    Poor Tom.

    He doesn’t see how much joy cartoons have the potential to add to one’s life, no matter what age. He’s been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.

    Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck! It would be as dreary as if there were no Jerrys and Amids. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

    There is a level of charm, humor, insight, artistry and entertainment covering the cartoon world which not the strongest cynic that ever lived could tear apart. Are cartoons for adults? Ah, Tom, in all this world there is nothing else more suitable.

    Thank God for Bugs and Donald! They live and live forever. A thousand years from now, Tom, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, they will continue to make glad the heart of young and old forever.

    (With apologies to Francis Church and The New York Sun.)

  • Well I’m definitely “out of my teens” (54) and I WATCH Donald, Bugs, Tom, Jerry, Yogi, Huck, Daffy, and about 6,000 other toons. I would definitely not want HIM to watch MY Kids!! What a stupid f**k remark!

  • I have to add: with all respect, the one argument that is just irrelevant to me is the one that suggests that there are far more important subjects in the world, so by comparison [insert pop culture topic here] is so trivial and nonessential to human survival that it’s not worth bothering about.

    Well, sure. But this is blog about cartoons and animation. That’s its only purview. This guy’s little column in his local paper directly touches that subject, which happens to be my livelihood, my art and my pleasure. And this reporter/published writer get wrong a fact that is away too commonly got wrong, that the “classic” cartoons of the past were meant for children only. And he suggests that an adult watching them is a pervert, basically. Again, in a newspaper. In a Q&A column. It deserves rebuttal somewhere, certainly here.

    No one has to be reminded that there’s a war on or much more important things in life–don’t worry, I am aware of them, have a life and things that bother me plenty that I try and address–just not *here*.
    Sorry to sound like I’m coming down so hard on an innocent commentor who’d simply expressing himself also, but I’ve just read too many dismissive “who cares anyway? /totally unimportant” non-responses lately in many places.

  • Thad

    Tiger Woods is a decent golfer but the rest are all crap. But I heard Adult Swim sometimes runs golf tourneys.

  • I thought I was following up an earlier comment I’d posted that apparently didn’t register–d’oh!
    Basically, I said that this guy Jicha is completely and utterly wrong: ALL of the classic-era shorts were meant to be seen by *everyone* in a theatre in the 1910s-1970s. They were never, ever produced for children.
    And as we well know, during WW2 the censors relaxed somewhat and filmgoers got from Bugs and Popeye a lot more innuendo, sex, violence, and of course the racist stuff that was aimed squarely at the taxpaying, beleagered adults-only in the audience. Television alone is responsible for anyone thinking theatrical short cartoons were ever made for children.
    [And please let me add a big apology for the numerous typos in my above post that make me sound a little less than wide awake–I just type poorly and too fast. Sorry!]

  • Tom

    Jenny said: No one has to be reminded that there’s a war on…

    Yes, Jenny! The war on CARTOONS!

  • Mr. Semaj

    Jeez, I’ll take a poor Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny short over a boring episode of King of the Hill or Family Guy.

  • “what would you suggest?”
    I’d suggest he’d go preform an impossbile inappropriatte act. :)

  • Ron: The New York Post isn’t owned by the Moonies (the Washington Times is, as is, gasp, the company that make those WACOM tablets artist types use), but rather Rupert Murdoch, who also owns the Fox and My (This) Network TV (Channel Sucks) affiliates in the New York City area, which, last time I checked, was illegal, or at least borderline illegal because newspaper owners can’t own television network in the markets they publish for. I can understand the confusion. Both are sucking the proverbial teat of the Republican Party until it’s dry.

    Seems like this Jicha fella has swallowed the Kool-Aid that cartoons are for kids and the so-called “adult” cartoons are better than those from the studios of yesteryear, ironically the cartoons that helped build the image of animation on television that are rarely seen on the medium that generations were introduced to. I wish I could watch a Donald Duck or Bugs Bunny cartoon right now aside from my old, um, what do you call ’em, video tapes.

    I had a client earlier today (I do web design on the side) where I helped upload her site, and I noticed that Pixie and Dixie’s theme song was playing in the background. Somebody actually having access to Boomerang, which, unlike its checkerboarded sibling, still shows all cartoons. It did warm my heart to see a parent introducing good cartoons to the youth of the nation.

  • Keith Bryant

    This guy wants his kids baby-sitters to watch South Park over Donald Fauntleroy Duck? Once again, the “media-elite” proves that you can write a newspaper column and not have a soul.

  • This dude seriously needs to stop eating paint chips.

  • There’s a certain percentage of adults (like 99.99%) who need some “cover” before they’ll admit to watching cartoons. His cover is that his choices are “the smartest”. It’s a bit like the guys who “read Playboy for the articles.”

    But I’m beginning to doubt the current meme that the golden age cartoons were mainly aimed at adults. The recent Brew post on Hollywood cartoon censorship had this revealing quote from Leon Schlesinger: “We cannot forget that while the cartoon today is excellent entertainment for young and old, it is primarily the favorite motion picture fare of children.”

    Whatever his faults Schlesinger probably understood the biz well, and understood who the theater patrons were that theater owners were trying to please by booking his cartoons.

  • Ah yes.
    Yet another person waxing the veritable “cartoons are for kids” rhetoric.

    It never ceases to be frustrating and depressing to read.

  • Keith Paynter

    There’s a BIG difference between cartoons made by adults for adults, and cartoons made by adults for kids (to sell toys). That’s why I can still watch Warner ‘toons some 60+ years later and still find them entertaining. (Heck, the same goes for 15-year old[i]Simspons[/i] episodes.) If you’re looking forward to watching [i]Transformers[/i] reruns, there might be something wrong with you…

  • i think i am gonna make a cartoon dedicated to this douchebag and all the other idiots who keep ruining animation by carrying on that retarded “cartoons are for kids” stigma. instead cartoons are for genius people who can recognize and appreciate creativity and one of the most awesome art forms to ever be invented. this guy should go back to watching shitty primetime tv like. america’s next top model. because clearly that is for the discerning audience. who wants to see craftsmanship and talent executed in a visually stimulating way when you can watch idiots jump around in front of a camera with cakey makeup and nasty lighting, not to mention the most horrible contemporary library music ever.

    people are awesome.

  • enz

    I’m 26 years old, great fanatic of Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes’ gang since I was on diaper; Today I teach History in an elementary school: Kids in my class would be lost without me!!

  • Ed

    Yeah – he’d have sounded like he knew what he was on about if he’d suggested My Little Pony or Barbie cartoons. Some of us see Bugs as having the right attitude and outlook on life to survive in the modern world, a role model almost (I’m kind of tongue-in-cheek here but it actually seems okay really when I read it back).

    The guy’s obviously a nut – why I oughtta……..

  • Palmer

    S’okay, Tom. I don’t want to watch your kids anyway.

  • Fidel

    I’m 25 and a huge animation fan who studied Animation in South Florida, so the Bugs Bunny/Donald Duck comment by this idiot from the Sun-Sentinel is misguided. The assumption that ADULT SWIM cartoons are the only ones better suited for “adult” audiences, than say classic cartoons, just because the word “adult” happens to be in the title of that block is ignorant. I do NOT consider FAMILY GUY to be an “adult” show, but rather a very childish one and not up to par to much better fare, such as THE SIMPSONS, FUTURAMA and for the most part, SOUTH PARK. PLUS if he does not want Donald and Bugs fans to babysit his children, he seems to also be making some sort of assumption that people who like old-fashioned or classic animation may have some “odd inclinations,” if you know what I mean, which is completely stupid and disturbing. I happen to think that, oddly enough, Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck cartoons are actually two great examples of cartoons that had stood the test of time and still entertain adults, as much if not more than children because the jokes/writing is often witty and gasp! too adult sometimes, which normally goes over kid’s heads. People who do not know about the history of animation should really NOT write about it…

  • Joel O’Brien

    You bet I watch cartoons! Old ones and new ones. I like “Duck Tales” as well as “Foster’s Home…”, “Dexter’s Lab”, “Angry Beavers” and the classics like Bugs and Donald. I’m sorry but I don’t find “Family Guy” funny at all. On the internet I watch for “Roger Ramjet” and the 1940’s “Superman” toons.

  • Jorge Garrido

    Adult Swim shows intelligent?

    Tom Jicha, you should really gain some criticial thinking skills.

  • Shmorky

    South Park and Family Guy are for children, he got it backwards.

  • Robert Igoe

    I suggest he get a damn life! Are there any critics out there who still understand that people watch TV and go to movies to have fun, not try to find the deep hidden meaning of every line and character, and be entertained, not “educated”?

  • Anne

    Bah. I wouldn’t want to babysit his kids anyway! *Goes back to watching cartoons.*

  • Andre

    Well, that prety much sums it up. Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck still rule! Thank goodness!

  • Lucy

    Having shelves and shelves full of cartoons made me THE top babysitter, thanks! I’m in my early 20’s, I already help teach in a college, and I am proud to say that my DVD collection is a lovely mix of the finest from Warner Brothers, Disney, as well as a great deal of anime.

    I get this all the time from younger kids when they find out I still watch cartoons, “My parents say I’m too old for cartoons.” At ten -__-‘ Honest to God it’s better than most of the life action programming that’s available today. It’s this mentality from stuck-up adults who give these kids just that impression…

    And for the record, yeah, I’ll admit it–I like Family Guy. But, it is what it is; strings of loosely linked pop culture references aimed right at my age group. Saying it’s one of the ‘smarter’ shows out there is like justifying ‘Snickers’ as a food group.

    So I’m going to take a break now, pull out my Looney Tunes Vol. 1 box set, then I’m thinking a nice Ghost in the Shell or Totoro chaser, and I’m going to chalk it up to being one more idiot shooting off his mouth on the internet.

  • gene schiller

    Jicha obviously has no appreciation for the fine points of classic animation – so, who cares what he thinks? On the other hand, he’s no more opinionated than the rest of us.

  • Charlie

    I get these kinda comments all the time from my friends. Usually I disprove them with “Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears”, Porky Pig Blooper, and any other cartoons with something like that in it. I even disproved my dad for saying The Flinstones were “childish” (I used the Winston commercials)

  • Lisa

    “If you’re out of your teens and still watching Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck, I don’t think I’d want you baby-sitting my kids.”


  • I believe Tom Jicha’s quote above is perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever read. Anyone with an IQ level above Elmer Fudd’s would notice that cartoons like Family Guy and South Park are the polar opposite of “smart”, and are so completely lacking in artistry that, for me, looking at them for longer than a few seconds makes me think of what it must’ve been like when Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah (for those of you who don’t know, she turned into a pillar of salt). Actually, rather than be infuriated by his comment, I’m vaguely amused at how someone could be so completely wrong on all counts. Reminds me of how Chuck Jones described Eddie Selzer.

    Certainly Bugs Bunny and Donald Duck cartoons were not made for children – and, unlike South Park and Family Guy, they were not made “for adults”, either. In fact, nothing good has ever been made for a specific audience… the only way to do it is do what YOU think is funny. Sure, I could pull up numerous examples of things that happen on classic Looney Tunes that they couldn’t get away with modern children’s entertainment, but I don’t think Tom is worthy of that. If the only way he can appreciate the brilliance of a cartoon is by finding something inappropriate in it, or even just something that would “fly over a child’s head”, than he could never understand the true joys of Bugs Bunny. If you screen Rabbit Fire, Rabbit Seasoning or Duck! Rabbit! Duck!, just as examples, you will see films better than anything made in live-action or animation now. Saying that they are stupid while Family Guy is “genius”, is much like saying Shakespeare is a hack writer and a Teen Magazine is the only thing worthy of being read.

    A world without Bugs Bunny or Donald Duck is a world I don’t want to imagine, and I certainly wouldn’t let anyone who DOESN’T like them alone in a room with a child. People without brains are frequently prone to violence, you know.

  • Greg Ehrbar

    From The Sunday Times:
    “Our genre is family film, but we make films we want to see,� says Dylan Brown, supervising animator on Ratatouille. “That’s why it plays so well to adults and children.� Brad Bird, director of Ratatouille and The Incredibles, feels that animation is misrepresented. “The mistake everyone makes is to assume animation is a children’s medium,� he insists. “It’s not. It’s a medium, a method of storytelling. Those Bugs Bunny cartoons were originally made for cinema audiences going to see the latest Bogart; it’s only later that they got picked up for TV. They were never actually made for kids.�

  • PJW

    Don’t most classic cartoons have humor going over kids heads anyway? Idiot…