I was a child of the 80s. Late-70s and early 80s, actually. It's not exactly earth-shatteringly original to feel that everything was better during one's formative years, but everything was better during my formative years. Music was awesome, as disco withered and died, punk was born, and the new wave approached. Movies were becoming great again, thanks in no small part to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Video games were just taking off. Kids could still play outside, blocks from home, without fear.
And, despite having only three TV networks and a couple of unaffiliated local channels, we never wanted for something to watch after school. Fortunately, this was a time before parents started paying too much attention to the content of kid TV programming. They just trusted the TV people to keep us entertained while not showing us anything inappropriate. Their faith was justified - mostly.
Most of our best friends in the 3:00-6:00 time slot were harmless. Bugs Bunny and friends kept us amused and taught us countless catchphrases and some grown-up pranks. Tom and Jerry beat the living snot out of each other, but were otherwise pretty innocent. Popeye ate his spinach and saved his friends from a bully. Scooby Doo and Shaggy were always stoned out of their minds and hallucinating wildly about g-g-g-ghosts, but we were blissfully unaware. The Pink Panther taught us jazz, and how to be cool under pressure. He wasn't the only big pink cat, either. Snagglepuss was the tinted mountain lion equivalent of Bugs Bunny, crackin' wise and getting into all manner of shenanigans.
But some of my favorite shows were the ones that would be considered completely inappropriate, today. The old Little Rascals/Our Gang - full of stereotypes and racism. Strangely, we were, again, blissfully unaware of most of it. Still, it did have a strange vibe. But Heckle and Jeckle, a pair of talking magpies, were incredibly racist - and of questionable sexual orientation. I was aware that something was up, and I was ten years old and probably didn't know what "gay" meant. And of course, in terms of cartoon entertainment, it did not make me or my friends uncomfortable, as they weren't really in-your-face with it. We were busy laughing at the gags and wondering how they could get away with the racist stuff.
I miss those old shows, in spite of their flaws. Funny is funny, and they taught us nothing, which was EXACTLY what we wanted.
Join us next time, when we completely over-analyze Sigmund The Sea Monster.