Tuesday, August 4, 2009

If Knowledge Is Power, Then Cartoons Are Mighty (Mouse)

Yesterday, I watched CA$H CAB. I do quite frequently, actually. I let the TiVo gather them up and when I need to “veg” with some intellectual pepper, they’re always there to watch. (If you don’t know the show, you’re missing out. Everyone I have ever suggested it to loves it or had already loved it…and I learned about it from Ellen. NUTSHELL: People earn cash money for answering trivia questions while on route to their destination in a taxi.)

Okay, well, one of the questions had been to the effect of: What childhood malady is associated with cheeks puffed out like a chipmunk? I knew the answer (yea me!) but the people in the cab did not. I don’t mean that as a jab at them. It’s not like one often hears of the Mumps. (And does it even occur with frequency anymore? I’m not sure.) But again, it’s not something that comes up every day. Also, their ages seemed comparable to mine, no more than five years younger. So I wondered… why did I know it?

After moments of searching, I realized that I saw it on a cartoon as a kid. I don’t remember which one, but that brings me to my point.

Cartoons, classic cartoons at the very least, are quite educational. By classic I mean such as Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry. Amid the craziness and shenanigans, there’s real information contained within them.

That’s how I knew about the Mumps, as I said. But there’s much more. Of course, there’s the ever popular exposure to classical music and operas. Spot-on caricatures of “old” celebrities abound. Weird historical trivia… such as the Zoot Suit that Tom “needed.” The expression “The Long Arm of the Law.” Poetry, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.” Info on the World Wars. The Robin Hood legend (in both Looney Tunes and Tom and Jerry). Wile E. Coyote’s personality and plight is based on Native American stories of coyotes. That’s just what came to mind right now… if I (or you) thought longer, I’m sure other bits would come to mind.

So don’t dismiss cartoons as useless visual gibberish… there’s plenty packed into them.

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