Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cartoons to the Rescue!

Two of my heroes are animated. I’m not kidding.  I won’t rant about the degradation of cartoons & their content here; we’ll just say that I’m very choosy about the programming I let my child watch.  When my eldest nephew was born I was horrified by the shows—my second hero (named later) had departed and in came King of the Hill, Dragon Balls, South Park and a slue of other shows that were vulgar, centralized upon combat, or born of psychosis (prime example: Spongebob Squarepants).  So poor ‘Domo’ was raised primarily on Disney movies and the shows that we (his aunts & uncle) were raised on.  The same thing happened with his brother ‘Amp’ a decade later, because the cartoons today are trash. Most of them spark random homicidal/suicidal thoughts for parents: Dora the Explorer, Backyardigans, Wonderpets... I could go on for days!!  Now there are some good preschool shows out, shows that teach ABCs & 123s, colors, shapes and all that. But sometimes kids just want to watch a story play out, while parents want them to take more away.

Amazingly, out of the mental breakdown that is Dora, came a gem: Go, Diego Go—a spin-off featuring her animal rescuing cousin.  Diego is far and away my son’s favorite show. He could watch it for weeks ceaselessly, sometimes it’s the only thing that comforts him when he is sick, and always it settles him when on I’m the verge of snapping.  But I sing not its praises because it can be likened to visual Ritalin.  In the show Diego goes around rescuing animals, but while he does so he’s teaching about the natural world, the animals themselves and values.  Values? Yes.  Respect, kindness, responsibility, manners, on top of the preschool ABCs/123s and such other shows do.

But while my son goes around imitating animals and educating the family on them, sadly his Diego years are limited.  Wherever should I turn then?  Why, to one of my childhood heroes! Captain Planet!  Captain Planet went off air in 1996 but that doesn’t mean my son will never know him!  I’m buying up the season dvds as I type!

I can think of no show more deserving to be brought back— especially with the issues we’re now facing—and promoted (heavily)! I might even argue its need to be shown in elementary science classes. Alright, so that might be a bit much, but the point is that it not only continues on what his favorite show is already teaching him but also broadens his horizons.  As kids we knew nothing of the great big world beyond our neighborhood, nothing of just how connected we (and our actions) were to those on the other side of the globe. My son will not be so ignorant.
Ignorance breeds poor choices and apathy. 

But Captain Planet isn’t fantastic just
because it’s centered on the environment.
It focuses on young people facing problems head-on & hands-on. It demonstrates the power of working together.  Its catch phrase was “The power is yours.” The 5 ‘Planeteers’ come from all corners of the earth, varying cultures and backgrounds.  So we’ve gone from respect, kindness, responsibility and manners to environmental responsibility, integrity, teamwork & compromise, encouraging confidence, equality & the value of diversity as well as thinking outside of yourself.  …Just to name a few…
I’m SO on-board with that!


  1. I didn't know there are some cartoons about environment!! In Japan, there are few cartoons about environment, so I was surprised about it. I think it is very important for children to learn how to protect the environment, and what is happening right now because they will still have an interest in the environment even if they grow up. I do not have any children now, but if I get, I would like to do like you.

  2. Thanks Yusuke! Captain Planet was awesome! You should Youtube it (just make sure not to get spoofs like the Robot chicken one). Diego is super cute too. What are the cartoons you refer to like? I.e can I check them out for my son's future dvd collection! :)

  3. Good to see captain planet again.It is just awesome.