Monday, November 2, 2009

What Ever Happened to Strong Female Cartoons?!

I was watching the first episodes of Rainbow Brite a couple of days ago and it hit me how lacking pop cartoons are. Where are the adventures? The storylines? The shit that doesn't involve middle-school-level drama like Kim Possible?

I've lamented this frequently. Think of all the great, narratively coherent cartoons from the 1980's and 1990's. Where are today's Darkwing Duck, or He-Man? But perhaps more importantly, where are today's Rainbow Brite and She-Ra?

Back then, girls had lots of great role models that still catered to girly fantasy. Both Rainbow and She-Ra had BEAUTIFUL horses. Both had lots of hair and literally coruscating wardrobes. Yet, along with this pandering, they were strong characters who took charge, lead to victory, and solved problems when others were cowardly and bitchy.

Girls today get shows that have been Bratz-ified to the point of nearly encouraging prostitution. Either that, or they've been replaced with good, but incoherent sketch shows like Spongebob.

I can appreciate that the "'tween" psychosocial group entered the mainstream, but as with Michael Eisner claiming that traditional animation was dead simply because Disney's cartoons were failing, it's not that people (and kids) don't want cartoons, it's that they don't want BAD cartoons. And, man, back in the 80's, cartoons were bad with style. Turbo Teen, anyone?

And as this great article discusses (bottom of page), the 'tween model is only part of the problem. You are not being a curmudgeon who simply thinks anything new isn't as good as what you had as a child. Saturday morning cartoons are getting worse.

But the internet is the saving grace! Now, kids who ARE your market can find your work wherever it may hide. I know I rant about letting go of the old revenue models and embracing what the internet can offer, but seriously, LET GO! Give your work away! Put it up on YouTube, offer DVD's, publish blogs, do anything to get your stuff out there!

Bring back great cartoons! Let our kids experience the same great fantasy worlds that kids from not-that-long-ago were able to experience. Don't distill it down to whizz-bang-shit-exploding-Marlon-Wayans-being-an-idiot like they did when they raped my memory of GI-Joe this past summer. Saturday morning may be dead, but the internet is just starting.

I'm going to start this as a call to creators to dig back into the zenith of saturday morning cartoons and try to use it as inspiration to give quality cartoons a rebirth. The internet, and even tools like Flash, can bring quality cartoons to a massive audience with small budgets.

My first vote goes to Rainbow Brite.

The Disappearance of Saturday Morning (


  1. Omg kim possible lol

    she was boring i hated watching her on disney, i liked her theme song though, Glady she doesnt come on anymore where i live lol

    its all the disney Human icons like zack and cody/ hannah montannah

    as we all know disney sacked alot of their animators... i think

    oh the bratz? they will be gone soon,
    the so called creators stole the designs from mattel, i always wondered why the diva stars came out before the bratz

    i love some of the 80s cartoons, i never seen rainbow brite, but i know who she is

    her origin is from japan says wikipedia but they always lie.

    like me for example i made a page about kate wright on wikipedia

    when i thought she voiced betty boop from 1933-1934, and really that was little ann littles voice...

    see wikipedia Lies alot ^_^

    some people like me for example write a few things up, then we learn later what really happens

    but wikipedia doesnt allow you to change the biography.... which sucks...

  2. I followed the Bratz case pretty closely, and MGA (the company that makes them), did nothing of the sort.

    Frankly, I think the judge overstepped his authority, and Mattel's claim had NOTHING to do with actual copyright or trademark infringement and had everything to do with trying to elimiate a competitor.

    Mattel couldn't compete in the market, so they sued. That's the American Way. Your product sucks? Just try to destroy the better product. You win, everyone else loses. And this is even better, because Mattel has plans to TAKE OVER the Bratz line!!

    So, Mattel, after relying on the staid and bland-as-hell Barbie for decades, quite literally used the courts to steal the hard work and marketing from another company! That's so great! Mattel should burn in hell.

    And the live-action stuff on Disney is the way things are going. It's sad. In the article I referenced about the death of Saturday morning, the growth of live-action shows is mentioned.

    Apparently, girls have always been a dodgy demographic for cartoons, which is why cartoons are so frequently unisex or specifically aimed at boys. Again, I argue that it may just be that girls become better arbiters of taste at younger ages. Thus, the shitty writing usually associated with cartoons becomes unbearable. Girls don't dislike cartoons, they dislike bad quality.

    And I think Wikipedia's mention of Japan is because the animation was primarily done there. The guy who created it was Canadian. DiC, the French company, did a lot of work with Japanese firms. Especially one of my greatest memories of the my childhood, The Mysterious Cities of Gold.


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