Grownups would know more if they watched cartoons

Burt's Eye View

Burton Cole

The world is full of zany, colorful characters who don’t make a lot of sense. I learned that 55 years ago watching Saturday morning cartoons.

Back in the 1960s, Saturday mornings meant giant bowls of cereal with the word “sugar” in the name, and five solid hours of life lessons — er, cartoons. Science, politics, politeness, teamwork and helping others were taught by the prominent educators Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Underdog, Fat Albert, the Archies, the Jackson 5, Space Ghost and the Herculoids.

I loved Saturday mornings.

Better yet were Saturday mornings at Grandma’s house. She had a COLOR TV. That was a big deal back then. I’d stretch out on her carpet and get reacquainted with old friends Top Cat, Mighty Mouse, Atom Ant, Woody Woodpecker and the Harlem Globetrotters.

Grandma even let me watch Jonny Quest. Mom claimed that show gave me nightmares. Hey, if grownups weren’t concerned about giant, mechanical spiders from outer space posing an imminent danger, they were just weird.

No, the grownups fretted about animated violence. They thought we’d misunderstand Bugs, Daffy and Elmer, and jump off cliffs or bean each other with bricks.

If grownups were too dense to understand the difference between cartoons and real life, why did we have to get punished with chopped up cartoons? It wasn’t fair.

If they had to meddle like the kids on Scooby-Doo, why didn’t they clear up things that were really odd, such as:

• If Wile E. Coyote could get all that stuff from Acme — decades before Amazon Prime — why didn’t he order a chicken dinner? It would cost less to ship than an anvil. And if a drumstick fell on your head, you wouldn’t be too squished like an accordion to eat it.

• Why were there FOUR “The Three Musketeers?” I might have been young, but I could count to four — Aramas, Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan.

I had to read Dumas’ 1844 novel (Saturday morning cartoons made me literate and cultured) to discover that D’Artagnan was an interloper trying to prove his worth to join the troupe. In the cartoon version, D’Artagnan was in charge while a little boy named Tooly tried to prove his worth. Which would make FIVE?

You know what else happened in the 1960s? A disaster called “new math” that was taught briefly in schools, then discarded as ridiculous. Grownups are a confusing lot.

• Why didn’t superheroes dress for the weather? I was especially concerned for Batman’s sidekick Robin, who wore green pull-up diapers, pointy slippers and no pants.

I’m surprised that the grownups didn’t censor that for fear that we kids would be silly enough to build snow forts in our underwear. No way. We were smarter than grownups.

• When an explorer became the first to scale a mountain, why was there a waiting crowd cheering and a TV reporter ready to interview him? I asked my mom.

“They came by airplane,” she said.

“Why didn’t the explorer fly up there too?”

“Well, um, because … Oh, look, it’s time for ‘Secret Squirrel.'”

“Mom, how does all that spy stuff fit inside Secret Squirrel’s trenchcoat?”

“Eat your Super Sugar Crisp, dear.”

I learned that grownups hate to ever admit they don’t know. They would if they watched more cartoons.

— Have a bowl of cereal with Cole at burtseyeview@tribtoday.com, the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.


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