Cartoon Song

Someone made an unauthorized video for Cartoon Song by Chris Rice, a song intended as a parody but taken to heart by the Christian community. In an article on his web site, Eulogy For A Song About Cartoons, Rice explained that his misunderstood intention in writing the song was to mock the commercial-Christian tendency to “make a Christian version of everything.”

(Thanks, Vincent Alexander)


  • pizzaforeveryone

    interesting when compared to recent satirical cartoons: the new yorker obama cover.

    Both pieces were meant as satire. But while apparently this one was embraced by those it mocked, the obama cartoon got a very different reaction (from all sides).

    not trying to say what’s right or wrong here. they’re just two head-scratching cases, alike and different in many ways. In these instances, is one satire more successful that the other? Or do they both fail?

  • loosetoon

    I know we usually trash terrible animation around here, but let me be the first to say that this has to be the worst puppeteering I’ve ever seen.

  • http://kittyhasfleaz.blogspot.com Felicia Spano

    Interesting article, Jerry. However, I could see why the Christian community would find the song “legit.” Unfortunately, we’re living in a society where things have to be extreme or visually “out of line” for things to be taken as offense or simply viewed as parody. Kind of reminds me of how cartoons have progressively become more politically incorrect (well….in SOME ways) to gain a laugh or two. Things can’t be taken for what they are anymore.

    Upon visiting his site, one could easily make the assumption that the guy is being serious. Chris doesn’t have any sarcastic images up and he doesn’t appear to be a vulgar person.

    The fortunate part was that I thought was pretty amusing.

  • Fuzzy Dunlop

    pizzaforeveryone: I’d argue that both cases are examples of poor satire.

    Above, Felicia says that people feel the need for things to be vulgar or extreme in order to be accepted as satire. I think there’s a grain of truth to that, but I think this is oversimplifying things. Exaggeration often does help make a satirical point. This song’s message is convoluted enough that any exaggeration is nullified.

    What this and the New Yorker cover both have in common is that their poor communication actually reinforces that which is being satirized.

  • EasyReader

    Mocking Christian tendencies. That’s fresh.

  • http://www.cineforum.ca/ Reg Hartt

    Neat piece of work. Whoever did it has talent. Praise be to him/her.

  • http://kittyhasfleaz.blogspot.com Felicia Spano

    Good point, Fuzzy. I didn’t take into consideration that there needs to be some form of exaggeration. I thought about it just now and had his voice not been so nice to listen to and had it been more “stereotypically country.”, I think it would leave more room for parody.

    As for being politically correct/incorrect, I also hadn’t thought about the old “Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarfs” cartoon. Guess everyone has ALWAYS consistently parodied things and well, in an extreme manner. Had the song (as mentioned) done something similar, this lame video wouldn’t have been created — with may I add (thank you, loosetoon for mentioning it first!), pretty terrible puppetering. :/

  • http://www.losetheraido.net Roman

    I didn’t find it to be clearly mocking Christians making their own versions of everything… particularly the last verse of the song which essentially says that “it’s not the Cartoons jobs to praise Jesus, It’s our jobs, so lets all sing Hallelujia!”

    Maybe it’s just me.

    The song was clever, but to me it wasn’t clever enough to be truly funny, either. In that way, it almost really did make it seem like one of those second rate Christian folk acts – and there are plenty- that cuoldn’t make it commercially until they found that Christian Niche. I mean, saying “Hallelujia” with the various speech impediments of toons might make a funny viral video, I wouldn’t exactly call it great satire.

  • Jon Hanson

    I remember loving this song as a kid, and finding out it was satirical makes me appreciate again as a non-kid.

    Still, the best Christian cartoon song is KJ52′s:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_xUEU8Ym10

  • http://www.octop.com Aleksandar Vujovic

    That was wonderfully stupid. Someone didn’t get it.

  • http://goldenagecartoons.com Matthew Hunter

    I first heard this song 7 or 8 years ago when I was in high school on a church mission trip. If it was intended as a parody, it doesn’t feel like it. It’s actually kind of charming, and a much better song than a lot of Christian pop-tunes I’ve heard. There are actually people out there who take top-40 hits and rewrite them with lyrics about God…now THOSE are bad parodies!

  • bunglemuffin

    who says no to royalties like that?

  • http://thadkomorowski.com Thad

    Scooby Doo and the Smurfs need to be saved?

    Rated R for Retarded.

  • Jess

    @loosetoon and Felicia Spano

    Looking at the original YouTube channel where this music video came from, you can tell that the creator was taking the whole thing seriously. (I’m talking about the video’s creator – not the song’s creator.

    At first, I actually thought this was a satirical puppeteering effort. That puppet is the stereotypical “Christian” puppet that anyone who’s ever attended a Vacation Bible School will remember. You can buy them at any Christian bookstore – and most church children’s ministries (at least in the South) use them.

    It’s a second rate puppet – just like many Christian attempts to replicate pop culture fall short and seem a bit hokey.

    Here’s a good example where someone makes fun of the traditional (and might I add, creepy-looking) “Christian” puppet. This ministry is actually trying to convey a serious message by clearly poking fun at traditional Christian media. Have a laugh…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCpqxoG5u3s

  • Whale

    I liked it. It thought it sounded good, and had a few laughs. I saw nothing wrong here. If South Park did this, it would be something different

  • http://www.nranimation.com James Nethery

    I remember hearing this on one of the Christian radio stations here in Florida a long loooong time ago…

    I didn’t know it was a parody and if I didn’t read this I wouldn’t have thought it was o_0

    Weird.

  • http://vincemusacchia.blogspot.com Vince Musacchia

    Maybe I’m turning into an old softie, but I liked it. It’s cute and catchy. Nice to see a tongue in the Jesus cheek of animation.

    Christ, I think I’ve been saved.

  • http://www.sockheaven.net/discography/taylor/meltdown/07.html good grief

    I’m baffled and frankly a little bit frightened by all the misunderstanding of this song. The commercial-Christian tendency of “Christianizing” everything is absurd and appalling, who could doubt it? Chris Rice (who I’ve never heard of),who is himself a Christian, was ridiculing this tendency by “christianizing” cartoon characters in a send-up of praise music. Unfortunately, he was forced by his label to perform the song to the same people he was ridiculing to begin with.
    The maker of the youtube video is aware of all of this, having, evidently, a reading comprehension level better than a fifth-grader’s, and having actually read the article which was linked by Jerry. In fact, he’s facing the very same objections posed by..er…non-critical thinkers, let’s say.. that the songwriter talks about in said article!
    Crazy world we live in…

  • Kris

    I am actually sure I heard this song several years ago when I was in high school. My sister listened to the Christian pop radio stations and they played this song now and then. I always thought it was cute and funny. I never took it as satirical so much as I thought it was a Christian guy using very gentle humor to make a point (that it’s dopey to try to “Christianize” everything).

  • ridgecity

    Of course this song was a joke, a person that doesn’t understand christianity would not mess with it with funny cartoon characters, since everyone kind of respects other religions somewhat… the funny thing is the actual christian business saw this song as a major pull to bring kids since they reality don’t respect what they and keep doing it with all those artists that can’t make it in the real world and devote themselves to religion. The song is nice, too bad they did not feel offended and embraced it…

    If you wanna make easy money, get into religion, Aleluyah!

  • Stilton over Cheddar

    Maybe satire is the wrong word to describe this song. Or perhaps my personal definition of the word has been tainted by too closely connecting it to the SouthPark or Colbert Report-style satire where it comes across as a joke at the expense of its subject.

    This song/video just seems to be saying: “Don’t try to write a Jesus message into everything. It trivializes both the message and its messenger.”

    Personally its a message I agree with. If I want a lesson in faith from a cartoon, I’ll turn on the VeggieTales. Any weakass attempt by Bugs Bunny to sell me on Christianity is completely inappropriate. Both things are sacred. Blending them together cheapens them both.

  • http://borogove13.deviantart.com Lucas

    Going through the guy’s website, he’s not only a Christian, but a singer who has done other Christian songs (like his “Tell me the Story Again”). As a Christian songwriter, there’s no reason not to expect that this song’s message is serious even if its delivery is mildly comic. As satire, it’s extremely mild and it’s a mild commentary on other artists in his field and genre. Instead of really satarizing in the song, his satire was in the conceptualizing, thinking “Wow, other commercial Christian singers are making Christian versions of just about everything in pop culture! That’s silly. I should write one that shows how silly that is,” but then all he did was write a successful one because he couldn’t out-silly an already silly concept, he just ended up repeating it’s recipe while thinking “isn’t this silly?”

  • http://thefancychristblogspot.com the fancy christ

    Where are these people?, who say they have herd this song before? Why and how do people not see that this is the Christian regime with their propaganda. Putting words in Freds month in their fashion is insulting and rude! Loony tunes should press charges. These Christian people are on genaric meds and are rapping and ransakeing everything creative and setting up their own twisted agenda through media. This has the same intent as book burning and government controled media. The youth are in danger!! Adults have lost there will! Brew? is there anything we can do to stop this?

  • Boo

    Chris Rice is a serious contemporary Christian songwriter, but this song was not meant to be taken seriously:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartoons_(song)

    I can understand why people mistook this song for a serious/cute worship song seeing as how Chris Rice is a Christian artist.

  • Ben

    “I know we usually trash terrible animation around here, but let me be the first to say that this has to be the worst puppeteering I’ve ever seen.”

    I think that was intentional. It looks to me like it’s poking fun at some of the Christian puppet shows on TV like those on TBN or Jan & Paul Crouch or whatever. Thier kids shows have some of the worst puppeteering I’ve ever seen…so I think this is supposed to look like that.

  • Chuck R.

    We run into problems when we put every song or skit that tries to make a point into a category called “satire” and then define “good satire” as something pretty hard-hitting (a la Steadman or Twain).

    True, outstanding art needs to communicate its point without confusing its audience (Barry Blitt’s New Yorker cover is a case-in-point), but when you are satirizing a group who feels 80-90 percent the way you do, a gentler hand is appropriate. As Jim Borgman once told me: “not every fly has to be hit with a sledgehammer”.

    I thought the Rice song was laugh-out-loud funny even before I fully understood what he was aiming for. Obviously, he’s succeeding spectacularly on one level and missing on another. No matter —he’s got people talking. The worst thing an entertainer can be is boring.

  • top_cat_james

    All this talk about cartoons and Christianity reminds me of those Spire Christian Comics I had foisted upon me as a kid. There was something unsettling about being prophesied to by the likes of Archie and Jughead.

  • Gordan

    OK…Since no one said it yet, I will: “The Muppet Show” is not a cartoon! :)

    And I agree that “satire” does not always have to be hard-hitting. We are just too used to South Park and Family Guy to appreciate opinions, criticisms and ideas that are articulated more gently…

  • http://trevour.blogspot.com Trevour

    If this song was written in 1989, how is Beavis & Butt-head included in the lyrics? I would assume it was updated and recorded 1993 or later.

    And it’s hilarious. I listen to some Christian music and this just makes me laugh. It’s true – if you ever go into a Christian bookstore, you’ll find a Christian version of everything. BibleMan, anyone?

  • http://trevour.blogspot.com Trevour

    Looks like it was included on an album released in 1998. That explains the post-1989 references.

  • ridgecity

    @ Trevour:

    Have you ever seen than Coca Cola ad that parodies Grand Theft Auto? If that didn’t cost ! million bucks, you can bet we would have GTA: Great Teacher Above…

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    this puppet shall haunt my dreams

  • Quartz

    Heh.

    I have this on my ipod. :^)

  • http://alonefancryinginthewilderness.wordpress.com Mark Morgan

    I heard this song years ago. I never thought of it as a satire, but I can see it being one. I would like to say in defense of Christian entertainment … look, I don’t think this is going to surprise anyone, but Hollywood in general doesn’t reflect a lot of Christian values. Often times Christians have to turn to Christian entertainment because its the only break we get.

    Christian entertainers tend to focus on message over content which is why most of the work feels preachy. Occassionally someone comes along who can balance message and entertainment. Veggie Tales is a pretty good example of that. The fiction of C.S. Lewis is another.

    I am a Christian and I’ll admit, I don’t watch a lot of Christian entertainment. I’m glad it’s there, but if I go into a Christian bookstore I’m honestly more interested in history and reference materials than I am movies and music. I also realize that a lot of this stuff is a business decision on the part of the distributor, but then all business of every kind is a business decision. Is using movies and songs to get the Christian message across wrong? Sometimes yes, sometimes no; I think it depends on the intention of the artist, and no matter what anyone says the only people who can ever truly know that is the creator of the work and God himself.

    I will say in parting, however, I think it’s interesting that most of what Jesus actually taught was done in parables. Could it be he was the very first Christian entertainer? Food for thought.

  • http://tsutpen.blogspot.com Stephen Cooke

    Wow, I never thought I’d be nostalgic for Little Marcy.