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70's Saturday Morning Television Really WAS Educational
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
A while back, I was over at a friendís house, waiting for more friends to come over so we could go out for breakfast. It was a Saturday, and while we were waiting, we had the television on. My friend doesnít have cable, so we surfed the local channels. We discovered Saturday morning television isnít the same.
The friends arrived, and we discussed what was on television and how unimpressive it was. We agreed the cartoons werenít funny not because weíre adults (okay, so people who fall into the ďGeneration XĒ age category are probably the least ďadultĒ of the so-called grown ups out there) but because they had been stripped of what made cartoons of our youth so great: violence, stereotypes, unrealistic situations and lack of a moral. Even as a kid I was a night owl, and I remember staying up late on Friday, only to drag myself out of bed early the next morning so I could watch the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner hour. Every character stood out, and not because they were bright yellow, or cute or fat. Bugs
himself was an amiable slacker; Daffy Duck was the second-banana scheming to get what creature comforts he could, and blowing up (sometimes literally) when he plans failed; Elmer Fudd was the lovable, yet determined rabbit hunter ... well, I wonít go on.
Todayís Saturday morning offerings reflect our changing times. The story has a moral, and there is at least one person of color in the plot. What we briefly watched several months ago didnít make us want to get up every Saturday and tune in.
I could argue that Warner Bros. cartoons did have redeeming qualities. Speedy Gonzalez was a character of color, and we always knew heíd triumph. The moral? Easy! Donít mess with a Mexican mouse.
And what of the whole Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote series? We knew Wile E. would never catch Roadrunner. But it did teach us that if we accidentally swallow dynamite, weíll explode into a million pieces and that falling off cliffs means that we will make a hole shaped just like our bodies when we finally hit the ground. Despite these mishaps, Wile E. always bounced back a few seconds later. We watched Wile E. die several times over, yet we still kept watching. Is there a moral here? Yup. Donít bother catching Roadrunner, because youíll never win. On the other hand, you should never give up. And thirdly, itís a damn good thing the Acme Company doesnít exist, or several million more people would die in giant catapult accidents, or slam themselves into the side of a mountain while using their jet-powered backpacks. Gee, maybe those cartoons werenít so bad after all. And as for characters of color, you have the aforementioned Gonzalez, the southern-fried Foghorn Leghorn, and the Tasmanian Devil, obviously representing future anger-management candidate Bob Knight. If that ainít diversity, I donít know what is.
However, if you really wanted diversity, there was Fat Albert. And am I crazy, or was there a cartoon called The Chan Klan? I could have sworn they were Asian and solved mysteries.
And thatís what getting up early on a Saturday morning meant: an escape from a world that we would soon learn was much more dangerous than the cartoon world we indulged ourselves in once a week.