I don’t remember the exact conditions for this assignment, but I can tell you that this was one of the more enjoyable writing experiences I’ve had with assigned writing. In particular, I really enjoyed the title, it was what made me actually write the paper. It was the mixture of the high brow distinction of “Discourse” with such a trivial thing as cartoons. . . it was delightful, to me. I’d like to hear what you think, in the comments below. One final note, this is the only of my college papers that went unfinished – which was okay, for that class, to have a work in progress. Anyway, enjoy.
P.S. It must be noted that anything said herein is done so for the sake of entertainment, and is not the opinion of anyone (except for the bit about the White Stripes. They suck.). Any remarks that may seem defamatory, inflammatory, or any other kind of –ammatory are unintentional, and should not be read into as such. Also: lighten the fuck up.
The Cookie Monster is destroying the United States of America. To explain, children’s television programming is not only helping to poison the developing child’s mind, it is indeed inhibiting its growth as compared with those children a generation ago. Children’s programming is doing this in three notable ways: it is allowing children to embrace mediocrity, the practice of self-denial, and inhibiting the development of a healthy, creative, inquisitive mind.
One of the most popular cartoons over the last decade is SpongeBob Squarepants. It stars a widely varied cast of characters, featuring a yellow sea sponge whose only ambition in life is to be a fry cook in a fast food restaurant run by a greedy, tyrannical crab, and whose friend list extends as far as a lazy starfish and an old, jaded squid, who also works at the fast food restaurant. Through study of half a dozen episodes, assessing the humor, educational content, and thematic elements, no redeeming qualities have been found. The jokes cater to those lacking intelligence, and no shred of knowledge is gained in the watching of the show, the music is completely bereft of any intellectual benefit, and most importantly, characters exhibit no drive to improve themselves, or their station in life.
In cartoons as recent as the late 1990’s, shows such as Pinky & the Brain featured characters and situations that not only display, but also exemplify the missing elements of shows similar to SpongeBob Squarepants. Pinky & The Brain featured two lab mice, one hyper-intelligent mouse determined to take over the world, and a markedly unintelligent mouse that makes up for his lack by being emotionally supportive when the Brain’s nightly attempts at world domination fail. Study of a half dozen episodes has shown a blend of intelligent jokes and childish jokes, has educational elements (as in the episode “Pavlov’s Mice,” which displayed mental conditioning), and the characters personify desirable traits such as ambition, determination, the use of intelligence to achieve goals, and emotional supportiveness.
A special note must be made here about the music of children’s television programs. Repeated studies have demonstrated that exposing children to the music of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and other classical composers enhances the brain both creatively and logically. In cartoons as recent as the 1990s, the musical selections have been accurate representations of classic songs by classic composers, or parody versions of them. Programs such as Animaniacs, Looney Tunes, and Tiny tunes derived nearly all of their music from the masters’, and sometimes depicted cartoon dramatizations of famous opera scenes. Tom & Jerry’s classic episodes were the most impressive among its peers in this regard; the show had no dialogue, and accompanied all of its action onscreen, sometimes in perfect time, with classic compositions. Though the act of putting the utterly mediocre on a moral pedestal and removing intellectually stimulating musical content are heinous offenses against America’s children, they represent only a small portion of the issue, and represent very limited damage to children’s development when compared with the following.
In 2006, the final blow against America’s children was dealt. The surprising culprit was the famous television program Sesame Street, featuring the Muppets. Sesame Street is a show based on the concept of “Edutainment,” educating children in the areas of basic counting, arithmetic, phonetics, and many other subjects using felt puppets. The most widely known of these puppets are Kermit the Frog, Big Bird, and the Cookie Monster.
It was an effort to convince kids to keep away from sugar and fat-laden foods, and eat healthier. Between 2002 and 2010, child obesity rose dramatically, and became the primary juvenile ailment, and action needed to be taken to attempt to reduce the issue. So in 2006, the Cookie Monster stopped eating cookies outright. This simple, seemingly innocuous act began poisoning the minds of children in ways that neither they, nor their parents, nor even the producers of Sesame Street could have imagined: it taught children that self-denial is a positive act. The Cookie Monster denying himself cookies is an act similar to Senator Buttars denying that he is a racist homophobe, is similar to Bill Gates performing in a hip-hop music video with gold teeth, spinner rims, and an IQ astronomically lower than it is, it is even similar to the White Stripes performing music that isn’t a heinous attack on the ears. The truth is that Senator Buttars is a racist homophobe, Bill Gates is an intelligent human being, the White Stripes is a horrible band. To subscribe to denial of what they are deep within their souls, like the Cookie Monster is now, would herald the end of the individual, and the eradication of self-worth. Something beautiful has died in the hearts of American children: their sense of self. One’s sense of self is the most important thing a person possesses, and to throw that away just so children will be more inclined to eat healthier is an absolute horror.
Scientifically, if cookies were truly unhealthy, retiring the Cookie Monster in favor of another, healthier monster could be justified to the American public. However, cookies contain sugar, and very often chocolate, which release endorphins into the brain, making the consumer happier, or conversely, less depressed. If a person claims not to like cookies, that person is not being offered the right kind of cookie; this is an indisputable fact. Even vegans love cookies, and making a vegan-friendly cookie is no small feat. Straight from the oven, a finer snack cannot be found than the cookie, not to mention, a finer post-coital snack has not been made by man or god.
Digression aside, the Cookie Monster-esque practice of self-denial is only a recent development in children’s programming. Again, as recently as 1998, characters such as Mulan went to great lengths to preserve their own sense of self. Mulan, who lived in feudal China, struggled to fit in, for she was clumsy, lacked social grace, and most importantly in that period in China, subservience. She was outspoken, and considered a dishonor to her entire family line. When Shahn Yu crossed the great wall with his army, Mulan stole away to join the army in her ailing father’s stead with the full knowledge that were she discovered she would be dishonored and killed. Using her brain, she defeated the Hun army twice, saved China, and gained honors from the emperor of China Himself.
That is where the paper ended. The rest of it would no doubt have been filled with wit and… I dunno, other groovy stuff. I hope you had fun with this one, I know I did. If you did, or if not, let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and make sure to tune in later for the next installment of The Things with “Veganism: A View From Behind The Cow.”