Friday, May 11, 2012

My Best Friend Growing Up Was Snagglepuss

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.


  1. I loved the Flintstones. But oddly enough I wasn't allowed to watch it in French, my mom thought it was too rude. But in English? I guess she ignored the racisms and all the other isms involved.

    I miss a time when a word was just a word. Not a degrading insult to an entire group of people!

    Nice post, you did great under pressure!

    1. Thanks Marie! I have a couple heavier things in the pipeline, so this exercise really was fun. Rereading it now, though, I feel there's SO much more to say about those TV shows. May have to revisit...

      I hear they're reworking The Flintstones for a revival. I'm not sure I'm okay with that. But weirdly enough, I wasn't consulted.

  2. As a kid I remember always feeling a little uneasy with Heckle and Jeckle. There was something a little too sinister about them. I would watch them but I didn't ever want to hang out with them like did with Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry.

  3. You know, sinister is the perfect word for H&J! They definitely put off a vibe unlike any other animated protagonists.

    Now I suddenly feel the need to write a Heckle & Jeckle script, all wicked and creepy and whatnot...