The Power of Cartoons
What sweet memories from childhood, these cartoons! According to Macmillan English Dictionary a cartoon is a film or television programme, especially for children that are made by photographing a series of drawings so that people and things in them seem to move. Very often the word animation is used instead of cartoons. It has been a favorite TV part of all children from all over the world for many years. Children always exclaim their loud ‘Hooray!’ when they are offered to watch cartoons. I’ve asked several grown-ups if they watched any cartoons in their childhood. Well, I haven’t heard negative answers from them. All of them liked watching cartoons very much. They think that cartoons play an important role in people’s lives. Cartoons lay the foundation of the world outlook. A person who didn’t watch cartoons in his childhood didn’t get a proper upbringing. Watching cartoons is not just spending free time for entertainment, they have great educational functions.
But cartoons differ. Nowadays I often hear that more and more cartoons seem so violent. They are often compared with soviet ones. There is a common mind that previous soviet cartoons were better and kinder comparing with modern ones. My interviewees mentioned such soviet cartoons as ‘Nu, pogodi!’, ‘Prostokvashino’, ‘Gena the Crocodile’. In ‘Nu, pogodi!’ a hare teaches us to punish the evil. All bad actions shouldn’t be ignored and left aside. But today we can often witness the way when guilty people are left unpunished. ‘Prostokvashino’ shows us how to be a friendly family and lead the mode of life. Cartoons also teach us to love animals, especially those children who live in big cities far away from wildlife. Even a wolf doesn’t look so angry and dangerous in cartoons as it usually seems to be. All it needs is just not to be hungry, it doesn’t want to hurt anyone, only be fed up enough.
Now I am a grown-up too. I absolutely agree with all the people I talked to. But I don’t like extremes. I always try to find a golden mean. I was a child when the Soviet Union crashed. In 1990s Walt Disney cartoons were very popular in Russia. I liked them very much, especially ‘Duck Tales’. Of course, there are many bandits in a big city, robbers, and other criminals but it has good points too. Scrooge Mcduck is shown as a greedy millionaire who even can’t sleep well thinking about his wealth. It also seems a negative character sometimes but he can teach his ducklings how to make up a capital. I think such financial lessons were very useful for both children and grown-ups after soviet period when capitalism changed socialism. People had to learn living a new life.
Years passed. Cartoons are changed too. Life changes very quickly. New children are born every year. That’s why cartoons should be new too. A lot of modern Russian children are fond of such cartoons as ‘Luntick’, ‘Smeshariki’, ‘Masha and the Bear’. I suppose they are a very good addition to soviet ones. They are kind and educational. Masha lives together with the Bear. The girl is very hyperactive but the Bear is shown very wise. The girl always misbehaves but the Bear always teaches something good and useful, anyway she understands everything in final scenes of every series. Luntick is an alien, a symbol of kindness and friendship. He is always ready to help other people and solve conflicts. His wise stepparents don’t punish him; they give him a chance to learn lessons from his own mistakes and misbehavior. I often ask myself, “Why is Luntick, an alien, not Earth creature taken as a symbol of peace?” We live in a very egoistic world now, people are apart, and many of them are by themselves. Luntick is a special messenger from the space. Everything is seen well above. People, please, let’s not wait for the help from out of there, let’s look at each other and open our hearts. As for ‘Smeshariki’, it is my favourite cartoon now. This cartoon is made by the means of an educational project “The World without Violence”. These funny creatures are so creative. There is no development without creativity. The characters of this cartoon teach us not be afraid of experiments (making a chocolate machine, writing poems, dancing, cooking, house keeping, etc). As Russian proverb says, “He is not mistaken who does nothing”. The most interesting fact about this cartoon is that in China the ‘Smeshariki’ viewers are more than in Russia quantitatively.
Now let’s talk about foreign modern cartoons. As for majority of people in Russia the most famous of them is ‘Shrek’. Many parents don’t like this cartoon because too much jargon and slang words are used there. Also we can see the mixture of Middle Ages and modern elements there that are also accepted n a negative way. I tried to find educational moments there anyway. Shrek is a grouchy, terrifying green ogre who lives in the swamp. He only looks terrifying but he is very kind and just. He fights against people’s cruelty. The problem is not in me, it's in the others and in the world itself. Having seen me people start shouting immediately: «Oh, help! Large ugly monster, Troll! » They judge me though they don’t know anything about me. It’s better to be alone. (Shrek) People usually judge us by our appearances. But remember that appearances can be deceptive. And you mustn’t judge people by the first impression. Yes, Shrek is not handsome and good-looking, ugly in a word. On the one hand he seems awkward, sometimes terrifying and really disgusting but on the other hand he is kind-hearted, smart and funny. He can be a very good friend. Heart is rather than appearance. Shrek shows us a very serious problem – the problem of misunderstanding and non-acceptance. He calls us to be attentive to each other. Byron Pulsifer said, "Appearances are wants only on the surface not what lies within." This cartoon also raises the issues of the meaning of life, treachery of our relatives, overcoming psychological barriers, and struggling with one’s imperfection, of course.
Another question I asked people was, “Whom do/did you watch cartoons with?” Most of people watch cartoons with their children; some children watch them with their friends or grandparents. But once I watched cartoons with my imaginary friend. You can read about it in my poem: