What was life like 12 years back? The recently recalled Maruti 800s ruled the streets, we had Amitabh Bachchan’s old KBC, the concept of multiplexes were coming up, McDonalds were few and any advertisement on TV would compel us to daydream about the happy meals, Pokemon was a rage and we used to collect Tazos and cards from the Lays packets; and the cartoons were way smarter. Nostalgia is one of the emotions which fortify the permanency of the ever fluidic time. People tend to remember moments in their lives through certain monuments, certain books, certain movies and certain emotions. My nostalgia is soaked in the multi-coloured old animations that made me sit in front of my broad backed tv with a snack in one hand and the remote-control in the other. My nostalgia is soaked in those shrill screams which my mother used to resort to, to close that god-forsaken idiot-box and to study for my final terms. Childhood is now a mere fantasy and those days will never come back, but the cartoons too have gone off the tv screens. The fun fantasy world that I lived-in is replaced by stupid kiddish cartoons. What is wrong with cartoons being kiddish one might ask? Well, everything. Here are some of the amazingly futuristic animations that made me think when I was a child.
Who can forget the Jetsons? Accompanied by the Flinstones as a part of the prehistoric and post futuristic experience, the Jetsons were a fun futuristic family which compelled us to build our own futuristic worlds. I had always wondered what it would be like to talk on the large tv to some other person on the other side of screen. That weirdly innovative thing that Hannah-Barbara developed many decades back is now a reality with people talking on skype and face-timing on their IPODs on a daily basis.
The Swat Kats
The swat kats gave us a taste of thrill and of the edge-of-the-seat action from the comfort of our cosy beds. The concept of two ex-army pilots retreating to a den and creating futuristic gadgets, super-sonic fighter planes and fighting mutated bad guys provided me an immature and rudimentary beginning into the world of an engineer.
I remember my first lessons about environmental conservation. It wasn’t taught to be by a teacher and I didn’t read it in a book. It was taught to me by Captain Planet. 5 youngsters chosen by Gaya to protect the environmental scenario of the planet by giving them magically powered rings containing the power of the elements of earth, fire, wind, water and heart, was an infantile plot which contained a deep message. The metaphorical meaning of the power of the rings combining to form Captain Planet was that the world is made up of 5 elements and it is important that we protect each of them, to maintain balance. The 3Rs- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, a lesson taught to me by Captain Planet, is still fresh in all of our minds.
Johny Quest was fantasy fodder for any toddler. A world where the battles are fought in two dimensions using a virtual reality portal is genius and almost matrix like. Added to that was the thrill of watching an Indian character, Haji. When it came to futuristic cartoons, Johney Quest led the pack.
Pokémon was an interesting cartoon. On the outside, it was about human domination over Pokémon’s and the use of their abilities to fight other humans. However while watching Pokémon, one of the ideas that crossed my mind was how fun it would be to own a Pokémon. It was a strong statement in human-animal friendship and harmony. The prelude of Pokémon was simple, to induce a sense of compassion for other creatures living along with you in this planet. I felt that Pokémon was a cartoon which strongly supported the cause of animal welfare and as an animal lover, I related to their message.
Hey Arnold was not a cartoon network cartoon, it was a nickelodeon nicktoon. Hey Arnold was a reflection of a teenager’s predicament in the USA. The issues it dealt with were real and touching. The subjects associated with body image, crushes, heart-aches, parental pressures and many teenager issues were dealt with a light sarcastic touch. It was touching and oddly relatable.
Naruto, for me, is the greatest anime of all time. Technically it does not qualify as a cartoon, but for a brief period of time it was on the Cartoon Network roaster. It tells us the story of an orphaned Ninja growing up in a society which hates him because of a reason that isn’t his fault. Beneath the deep levels of Ninjutsu, fantasy and layered animation, lies great life-lessons and it subconsciously teaches its viewers to follow the right path and to do the right thing.
It’s sad that those great cartoons, which shaped our childhoods and many of our cognizance, are taken off from TV. Children of today are subjected to hollow mindless cartoons that aren’t intellectually stimulant. Kids deserve better than kiddish cartoons, and it’s sad that the TV which shaped my reveries of nostalgia, will never shape theirs.