Editor's View

Monday, February 14, 2005

Darn it, not the cartoons!

Do you remember the good 'ol days, when a kid could sit around and eat himself into a sugar coma with marshmallow cereal on a Saturday morning, and watch hours of cartoon characters hitting each other with oversize Acme mallots?

Turns out this month that even cartoons aren't safe from the great struggle for souls between the conservative right and the liberal left.

My e-mail box is filled with dire warnings.

First, Dr. James Dobson warns that Sponge Bob has been seen holding hands with his starfish buddy Patrick.

He warns that Sponge Bob, along with other popular cartoon characters, appears in a video being distributed to schools for "We Are Family Day" in March.

Dobson says the cartoon, featuring characters singing to an awful old disco song, is sponsored by an organization that has links to gay groups, and says that unsuspecting kids are being introduced to the lifestyles of homosexuality.

In truth, the video promotes tolerance of diversity, but contains no reference at all to sexual identity. It may be noted, however, that Barney does appear naked.

Student groups are already protesting the attack on Spongepants, whose name, come to think of it, it pretty suspicious. The liberal media is having a field day attacking religious groups.

All over cartoons. But it doesn't stop there, of course.

A few days later, some conservative groups and the U.S. Secretary of Education denounced PBS for a cartoon that they said includes lesbian bunny rabbits.

Now let me say, based on the prolific numbers of bunnies consuming our neighborhood gardens, these critters apparently are far from gay.

But this cartoon, called "Postcards From Buster," show Buster bunny on a trio to Vermont for Maple Syrup. Vermont, opponents warn, stands for tolerance of same-sex unions. That's a connection I'm not sure a typical 5-year-old is going to make.

One episode supposedly includes two pairs of bunny girls who are, um, more than friends. PBS has pulled the episode, code-named - ahem - "Sugartime" from its stations.

Elsewhere, critics are ripping comic books they say are being circulated among teenagers with cartoon strips urging protections against HIV, which they say promotes sodomy.

Hey, where's Wile E. Coyote when we need him? Not only was he straight, but he was on the Adkins diet. Beep beep indeed. Today's cartoons are getting too socially complicated.

These cartoon controversies are nothing new, though.

I remember being crushed when my older sister informed me that both the cartoon show "H.R. Puffinstuff" and the song "Puff The Magic Dragon" were really about recreational drugging.

Oh swell. I loved that song. I think I cried. Of course, I was only 28 at the time.

Since turning 10, I haven't given cartoons much thought, and without the right wing, I would have missed this whole crisis entirely.

Now that I think about it, though, the signals were there all along. Think about it.

Donald Duck and Winnie the Poo wear shirts, but they NEVER wear pants! I don't know about you, but that gets a person a demerit where I work.

Batman lives in a cave - just like Osama bin Laden. Coincidence?

Superman wears tights - nuff said?

C'mon - Josie and the Pussycats? Isn't that Ellen DeGeneres on drums?

How about The Flintstones? Fred and Barnie - two guys wearing dresses?

And that lisp Daffy Duck has - that should set off Dr. Dobson's alarms.

Wait a minute - didn't all seven of those Disney dwarves sleep in the same bed, and only one of them was actually "sleepy?"

For all of those years, Charlie Brown never managed to kick a football, because that nasty Lucy always pulled it away. What a butch thing to do to a guy.

In Garfield, Jon never successfully dates a female, and he lives with a cat. Hey, we know what that means... (oh, wait, I live with three cats... never mind.)

Ever notice that Dilbert's tie is always unusually stiff?

And what's the deal with Woodie Woodpecker? Even a porn star couldn't get away with that name.

Spongebob, though, seems like a pretty benign little creature. And friendlier than Dr. Dobson.

Leave it to adults to even find a way to take the fun out of a kid's cartoon.