When reminiscing about things that made childhood so fun, one thing readily comes to mind: cartoons. As a child, it didn’t take much to pique my interest when it came to TV. Sit me in front of anything with cool anime fight scenes, magic or singalong songs, and I was good to go. As long as it was visually or aurally pleasing, I could dig it.
That being said, I think we’ve all had moments where as a teen or adult we revisit old childhood TV shows purely for nostalgic reasons and realize that our tastes have greatly changed, and that the shows we used to like are, quite frankly, a steaming pile of trash. Then again, there are some old favorites we re-watch and realize they’re even better now than they were when we were children! Here are a few cartoons/movies that either soured over time or aged like fine wine.
Let’s start with Disney’s “Pocahontas.” Back in the day, it didn’t seem too bad. I was fan of Disney princess movies (and still am); Meeko the thieving racoon was cute and “Colors of the Wind” was a certified banger.
But watching Pocahontas now…where do I even begin? Let’s start with the fact that Disney thought it would be cool to make a movie about a Native American girl falling in love with someone who came to colonize her peoples’ land. Definitely wack. The blatant lies and misrepresentations of history portrayed in the Disney movie honestly disgust me when I try to watch the movie now.
Pocahontas (whose real name was Matoaka) had a very sad story. She was only about 10 or 11 when she met John Smith. Most accounts say that there was definitely no love there, unlike Disney would have you believe. If you’re interested in learning more about Matoaka, I advise you to research her. I’m of the opinion that a historically accurate movie about her would have been far more interesting to watch.
Next, we have a show that definitely got better with age, and will forever in my opinion be the best cartoon of all time: “Avatar: The Last Airbender” ( the beloved Nickelodeon animated TV show, not to be confused with the accursed M. Night Shyamalan live-action farce). I was about four or five when it first came out, and my parents, sisters and I would all watch the new episodes together.
Back when I was young, I of course only cared about the thrilling bending fight scenes. I mean, what’s cooler than a sacred artform that uses martial arts to control the very elements of nature? The show had everything a kid could ask for. It was visually pleasing, the music was great, and Appa and Momo were hands down some of the cutest animal companions to ever grace my TV screen; and they weren’t even real animals!
Watching the show now, though, I can appreciate it for the truly wonderful piece of art that it is. For instance, the cultural representation was phenomenal. The Four Nations (Water, Earth, Fire and Air) were all based on real cultures across the world, and their philosophies were based on real world religions and spiritual beliefs. What’s more, all the bending was modeled after actual martial art forms.
But the real beauty is the plotline and character development. Whereas characters are relatively static in other cartoons, characters in “Avatar” had growth and went through their ups and downs. The redemption arc for Zuko was nothing short of masterful writing.
Every part of the show was profound and taught many lessons that are pertinent to real life. It may seem cheesy to say, but I can say without a doubt that it has left a lasting impression on my life. I would highly recommend the show to anyone.
Last, but certainly not least, is “Spongebob Squarepants.” At first, my parents were reluctant to let me watch it. They thought that Spongebob’s obnoxious ways might rub off on me (which was a perfectly rational fear). Eventually, they gave in and let me watch the show.
What can I say about Spongebob? It was loud, obnoxious, annoying and hilarious. Needless to say, my parents soon regretted letting me watch it. Viewing it now, I have to say it’s still pretty funny! Considering all the memes it has spawned, I think it’s safe to say most people my age (or at least a good bit of them) feel the same way.
“Spongebob” has a quotability factor that makes it extremely fun. From “Ne moy hoy minoy” to “25” to “ Are you feeling it now?” there are so many jokes from “Spongebob” that have stood the test of time. It is without a doubt an era defining cartoon. Will it continue to stay relevant? Aye, captain. I believe it will.
Caleb Jones is a graduate of the University of Montevallo. He has a major in Communication Studies, and minored in Multimedia Journalism and Spanish. He is a former news beat reporter with The Alabamian, and plans on pursuing a career in investigative reporting after graduation. Have a tip? You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org