Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Child of the 80's, Mother of today.

Before I became a mom, I didn't give much thought to what my daughter would watch on television. Being the wanna-be crunchy mom that I am, I didn't think my child would watch any more than 2 hours of television a day (if that), and those shows would be strictly educational, so that she could be fluent in Spanish and know calculus all by the time she was two years old.
That didn't happen.
I thank the heavens for tv. TV has saved my sanity.

My daughter loves Dora the Explorer; Go, Diego Go; Ni Hao Kai Lan, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and many other shows catered toward pre-schoolers on Nick Jr. and The Disney Channel. (I should totally be paid for those plugs!) However, as I flip through the cable guide, and through the channels, I can do nothing but sigh heavily and sadly, and shake my head at the shows that are on now.

I grew up in the 80's. Go ahead, make fun of the clothes, make fun of the music, make fun of the dances; but don't you dare make fun of the kids shows I had the pleasure of watching. You wanna know why I am the way I am (and I'm pretty damn awesome), look at the shows I watched as a kid, and what they taught me.

This is David. He's a gnome, from The World of David the Gnome. "Look around you, there are many things to see, that some would say could never be. These things I know, it's true and I will tell you so, they are there to see, if you believe. Trolls and wizards, and fairy kings, birds that fly and fish that sing, and if your heart is true, then you will find them too. In every wish and dream and happy home, you will find a kingdom of the Gnomes."
Those are the words to the theme song, which I know by heart, and haven't forgotten for over 20 years. David and his wife Lisa live in a hole at the bottom of a tree, I believe they had one daughter. They also had two pet mice that were about the same size as they were. They were tiny (the gnomes, not the mice). David was a doctor, helping many animals and some people. He preferred natural medicine, including acupuncture and hypnosis. David could speak to animals. His best friend was a fox named swift, who he often rode on the back of to take him to different patients. David was my hero. I strongly believe that helped spark and nurture my love for animals. I'll be 29 next month. Do I believe that maybe, just maybe in an obscure hole somewhere hidden in my house, there might live a pair of noble gnomes? You bet I do. And I think that makes me a better person. :o)

These are Carebears. Not just any kind of bear, they are bears who care, A LOT! As a matter of fact, they live upon fluffly clouds in a place called Care-a-Lot. You know what they taught kids?...That's right, they taught them to care. They taught empathy and sympathy. They taught us to overcome evil and nasty thoughts and feelings, to open your heart and care. To this day, when I see anyone who just wants to be bad because they feel bad, maybe because they thought no one cared for them, I just wanna do a Care-bear stare. In 2007 they tried to reintroduce the Carebears to this new generation, with "improved" (I'm guessing that was the goal) computer generated animation. You know can revive the old and originals by reintroducing the old and originals. ::sad face::

Ahhh, The Smurfs, the original blue man group! These playful little creatures lived happy lives in mushroom houses in a forest of some sort, eating sarsaparilla and smurf berries. The leader of their people was the wise Papa Smurf, who taught us to work together and use our individual talents for good. No one can remember the Smurfs and not smile. Unless you are evil. :o)
(For Smurf enthusiasts: Did you know that the creation of the Smurfs actually predate the 80's? They actually originate from Belgium as a comic book series in 1958. And, did you know *or remember* that Smurfette was not a true Smurf, but created by Gargamel out of clay? There's your trivia for today.)

Hmmm...let's skip that one. :o)

And just so you guys don't think I only watched girly cartoons:
He-Man!! "I have the power!!!" OK, what did I learn from He-Man? I learned that I wanted a bad-ass sword and a big tiger that I could ride! Aside from that, like most of the cartoons of this era, it taught to do good, to be good above all, and to conquer over evil. He-man also taught me that you had to overlook an otherwise kinda queer looking fellow, because beneath it all, he could be He-Man! :o)

This is Prince Adam, before he invokes the "Power of Grayskull" and becomes He-man. :o) Yeah, bet you didn't remember that, huh!?

I also loved He-Man's twin sister, (role model for kick-ass girls everywhere!) She-Ra, Princess of Power! And I wanted her rainbow-winged steed, Spirit, as well. :o) She-Ra was pretty important since the majority of "heroes" out there were boys. There were some kick-ass girls like myself out there, and She-Ra put us on the same level as the boys. :o) Thanks, She-Ra! "For the Honor of Grayskull!"

The 30-something year old scientists of today can probably attribute some of their interest in the sciences to Don Herbert, Mister Wizard! Even the kids that didn't like science class liked this show. Where is the Mr. Wizard of today? Yes, as I got older they had Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman's World...but where are those shows for our children?

Remember Levar Burton?


No, no, not that Levar Burton! (If you have never seen the movie "Roots", then shame on you!)


No, not that one either! (Although I know this one well. My mom is a trekker. Not a trekkie. The fact that I know the difference between the two should tell you something.)

But, I digress, here, this Levar!:

Reading Rainbow, encourager of literacy in children around the globe. This guy made you want to go to the library, you wanted to check books out, you wanted to read! I can remember getting my first library card (kinda..not really, but go with me on this!), and I remember absolutely loving to go to the library and check out my very own books. I loved seeing the books on the show and then checking them out myself. I loved reading then, and I love reading now. And whattaknow, I'm a writer too. :o) I know they have shows now to encourage a love for words and reading, but nothing beats Reading Rainbow! And you don't have to take my word for it!
Aw hell, c'mon, let's all sing the song, you know you want to!
"Butterfly in the sky I can go twice as high, take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainbow! I can go anywhere!
Friends to know and ways to grow, a reading rainbow! I can be anything! Take a look, it's in a book, a reading rainbow, A Reading Rainbow."

^These are some of the things I grew up with.^

WTH are these!?

A sponge. Some weird-ass looking kids. And some very annoying, only semi-talented dorks...I mean, actors.
I'm not saying that all the shows kids have today are horrible. I think there are some great shows out there, but there's something lacking in our children, that I believe, has to do with what they're exposed to on tv. I mean, even if your child is only allowed to watch the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, or PBS even, the shows just aren't the same. Hannah Montana & The Suite Life have made our children sarcastic and disrespectful toward their parents. Have you seen how those kids talk to adults? Or worse yet, how the adults talk to the children? If I grew up with, and emulated these shows, I would have had a stutter in my adult years from all the hits I'd have taken to the mouth. These other shows with the weird lookin' their purpose to show us the effects of taking (or not taking) Ritalin? I don't know.

Sure, I grew up with cartoons that were undoubtedly created by the potheads of the late 60's and early 70's. However, what did they preach? Love, caring, empathy, heroism, friendship, kindness, confidence, sympathy, peace, environmental awareness, happiness. Maybe some of the current shows have the same values, but the execution is all wrong.

Bring back the good ol' days.

I don't think anyone watched Widget the World Watcher, except me. :o)

Anyone remember "Today's Special"? I loved this show!

I was totally Leonardo! :o) Sometimes I was Donatello.

Had to have Nickelodeon to know Maya the Bee. :o)

These are some of the shows of my day.
There were ducks that helped us learn the Dewey Decimal System. There was a young blond-haired boy who taught us to be mischievous, but not too much so. (Actually, I remember the very old live action, black & white Dennis the Menace show. It was one of my favorites.) I too, was a bit mischievous. There were puppets and muppets, and giant elephants that taught us the "Skinnamarink" song. There were loving, adventurous bears who made every kid want to taste Gummi juice. There were pizza-eating, butt-kicking turtles who learned about the great artists of old from their mighty rat sensei. There were a lot of mischievous cats, and entertaining dogs. There was a man who made us want all kinds of cool gadgets. There was a boy, and his dog. (OK, I know Lassie was not made in the 80's, but I watched that show faithfully, every morning at 6am before heading off to Kindergarten. I learned a lot from Lassie, and Timmy. There will always be a special place in my heart for collies.) There were awesome robots that transformed, protecting our planet from evil forces. There were people who were cats, or maybe they were cats who were people. There was a little girl who made you want strawberries every time you saw her. (I loved the books as a kid!) There were mice and chipmunks out to rescue. There was a little girl who made short skirts and rainbows so very cool. (I totally had one of those plush sprites, and loved the thing!) There were koalas, and bunnies, and penguin, and bees. There were men in tight pants who urged you to sing.
I look back on them and I smile. A lot of parents have a great wish to give and share with their children the things they never had. That's one of my goals. However, we must also give and share in the things that we did have. The things that made us happy and made us smile as children will likely make our own children smile.

What were some of your favorite shows, and how did they affect you?


  1. Akili-
    I assure you you were not the only Widget the World Watcher- watcher! It was my favorite afterschool pastime after Gifted. And to this day when I get over-tired I sing my husband the Skinnamarink song (and I'll teach it to my kids, too- dance and all!) I believe what is missing in today's shows is a sense of purpose besides entertainment. They are not created with an educational or even inspirational purpose in mind. The days of the media providing a general sense of well being and self worth (not to mention values and ideals like respect, hard work and education) are unfortunately over. It's up to the few willing to invest the time and effort to make sure their kids are able to learn to be proactive, well educated, ecologically conscious, polite and respectful (wow a mouthful of expectations there!) to hopefully save the American public from its own eventual collapse.

  2. Widget come on afterschool too!? I usually didn't get home until near 5pm and I don't think I turned on the tv first thing. I watched in the morning while preparing for school. I believe VR Troopers came on after and I could see 10-15 minutes of that horrendous show before catching the bus.

    I completely agree with your opinion on this matter. So many things are made solely for entertainment. I am thankful for the shows that aren't, the ones that Korah can watch. Shows like Spongebob do (or are supposed) to have some educational component to them, but I really haven't sat through an entire show.
    I wonder why the animators and artists of our generation, those who grew up with the shows above, aren't try to make similar shows, with lessons and values. I can only think that they are, but the mainstream keeps from coming to the forefront. If that is the case, then that is sad.

    I also want to thank you for responding, on the blog. Perhaps following your example, other people might do the same. It doesn't help me to have followers, but no comments on the things I write. It makes me feel awfully lonely here in blogland. So thank you. :o)

  3. OMG this is so true! I hate the new kids show and I seriously shudder to think of what Evelyn will be watching one day. I honestly am in shock by some of the "messages" that come through on these shows. Don't even get me started on spongebob. I loved all the shows you mentioned too and it makes me sad to think that they aren't around anymore. I will have to research to see if they can be found on DVD someplace.

    June 22, 2011 2:24 PM