Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wabbit Season

Hey, for a great debate on cartoons check out the comments going on over at wondertime. Oh, I do love a great debate.

But holy clam and cuttlefish! (as Boris would say in Amos and Boris.)

Go weigh in, please.

And your comments on Birdy's valentines are cracking me up--thank you. Also be sure to check out other people's links to their own craftstravaganzas. You guys rock.



  1. I keep trying to enter the debate, but I'm still having issues posting on Wondertime! So, here it is!

    Are we all forgetting that those original Bugs Bunny cartoons were originally written for ADULT audiences? They were shown along with the news reels and such for people going to the movies back in the ol' days.

    I don't lamblast my kids with those cartoons (we rarely watch TV at all), but I do agree that they are so over-the-top that my kids completely "get" the fact that it's all silliness and NOT real. (Wabbit/Duck season is one of our favorites and is quoted around the house quite often--with many variences!)

    But I do try to check out any movies and cartoons we rent/watch with the kids beforehand to make sure we aren't hit with material I feel they aren't ready to watch yet. And have lots and lots of hugs and kisses and talks when we do get hit with the surprises.

    I do have a problem with most of the current Disney movies as their usual themes of one character "standing out" and being "independent" tends to foster other issues: disrespecting parents, cheating, lying, etc. (My daughter was appauled about Ariel's behavior to her father and vice versa. I remember cringing about it myself when The Little Mermaid first came out when I was in high school.) I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with that except too many of these characters are "excused" for their behavior and therefore do not learn that their behavior is wrong.

    Anyway, I find I have to skip the "questionable" Disney movies or else have a LOT of "this is what you should NOT do in real life/here is a better way" conversations if/when we watch one.

    So where is the middle ground of shows that aren't completely saturated in the super-nicey stuff and the shows that are just plain fun?

  2. I already posted here from my soapbox. Why is wondertime making it so hard to comment there?

    Meanwhile my friend just sent me a buster keaton movie for my two year old to watch. I'm sure she sent it because it has a train in it, but I think it also has gun battles and so forth. Maybe when he's older.

    The funny thing is I really never pictured myself censoring anything, but he gets soooo upset when people get hurt or feel sad in movies and it seems to me that I'm supposed to want to encourage those empathetic feelings rather than tell him to ignore them.

  3. I find that a lot of the way I feel about different shows depends on the particular child. My oldest is so sensitive, he couldn't handle Peter Rabbit until he was seven--but my secondborn is nowhere near as bothered and so I feel more permissive and less protective about what he watches.

    I'm periodically surprised by the things that DO and DON'T upset them. I'll flinch when a cartoon character gets blown up or falls off a cliff, but it doesn't bother them at all. Then on another show a character has bloodshot eyes from being sick, and they FREAK OUT for WEEKS.

  4. Anonymous3:59 PM

    ARG! Just left a l-o-n-g (probably too long) message at Wondertime and it disappeared. It was thoughtful! It was funny! (not that I'm idealizing it now that it's gone, or anything.)
    I am very sad now. I loved this columnn so much and it sparked so much thought.

  5. Anonymous4:10 PM

    I too continue to struggle with Wondertime. While reading your article, I had in my mind a very, very oldddddd, bugs bunny cartoon video that we purchased at the thrift store. My daughter doesn't get to see bugs much and she thinks he is hysterical. All was fine until the final story, which involved a story set in Africa -with, you guessed it, the native people drawn and animated as one step above animals. My daughter was puzzled, and I was rigid with horror. She didn'tunderstand what they were supposed to be, she - blessedly - didn't realize that they were portraying black people as animals. My daughter is bi-racial. Horrified and sad and hurt is what I was. She lost interest and I tore the tape out of the machine and buried it in the trash. You know, I had just forgotten that old cartoons were so very racist. But on a lighter note, I also remember when Jurassic Park came out on video and a college professor friend had invited me over for lunch and as we ate and talked, her 3 year old son began to moo - he was watching the movie - I was confused and when I looked at her, she just rolled her eyes and said, "Oh this is the part where they feed the tyranesauras" - the kid was completely untouched/oblivious to what the mooing meant. And even though it was awful, it was also kind of funny.

  6. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Already weighed in, but checked out the comments. Particularly eye-rolling was the montessori poster, but otherwise the comments seemed mild.

  7. Still cannot post on Wondertime. Harrumpf! Anyway- this is a great topic for discussion and one that I find is constantly being debated amongst my friends.

    I think you have to know your kid. If you have a child that is prone to being aggressive and physical with other kids then I think it stands to reason that "old school" cartoons would probably feed that. If your child is mellow and sweet I find it a little hard to believe they'll turn on a dime just because they watch Tom and Jerry.

    My daughter has an absolute Three Stooges sense of humor. If someone is getting donked on the head, she's laughing hysterically. I've also never, ever known her to lay hands on another child in anger.

    As far as the sexism/racism thing- I get people being upset about that. I'm always taken aback when I see how blatant it is in some of the older shows. It is, however, an excellent teaching opportunity. And you need to remember that kids don't look at the world the same way we do. I had a conversation with my daughter's friend ( a first grader) right after they'd done a unit on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. His reaction? Why wouldn't Rosa Parks just sit in the back of the bus- it is SO MUCH COOLER BACK THERE and the bus driver can't see you if you're being naughty.

  8. Anonymous8:27 AM

    My daughter is just starting to try to write her name. After many Valentines she started to just make a K...which was looking more like an F. Well...she made a card for her friend Julia...and the J looked like a there were just 2 letters on the card. An F and a U. And since I am really only 12 years old I nearly spat my tea and wet my pants from laughing. Maybe next year Birdy and do the art work and Kels can write the verse?

  9. One just never knows what topics are going to cause what responses, huh? My point, which I think is the same for many other Wondertime posters, is, "I hear ya, sister!"

  10. Anonymous6:58 PM

    I just need to vent somewhere that Wondertime has more bugs than any website ANYWHERE! How can they not get this stuff figured out?! Half the time, I click on "read more" after the little tease blurb and nothing loads. Then, I do computer voodoo by clicking refresh, then the stop button, then click again, etc. Sometimes, it works and *viola* I get to read the entire entry. Othertimes, nothing. And, I can NEVER read the comments. Most of the time, the comments button isn't even hot. Very, very frustrating. Anyone who actually can contact Wondertime, feel free to pass along my vent (cuz I certainly can't battle the bugs any longer!)! Thanks!

  11. Anonymous9:14 PM

    I limit the kids' television viewing and there are many days it is never turned on. But they do watch some TV and we keept it to videos or channels with no commercials (PBS, Noggin) or commercials that don't offend (food, home and garden). If the cartoons upset you, try Unwrapped or Alton Brown. Or even Dirty Jobs - nothing like learning about how to clip cow hooves.

  12. Anonymous10:56 PM

    Wow Catherine,
    You really opened a can of worms with that one=)! It is always interesting to see everyone's differing opinions...
    there's something to be said for a little TV in your life(or a lot some days in my house!)

  13. Anonymous12:24 PM

    For those of you having trouble at Wondertime - try the Firefox web browser. Just google Firefox. I use it all the time. Much less flaky than Internet Explorer. I'm a web designer so I know as a fact of life how hard it is to develop web sites that don't glitch up in IE.

    My family loves to watch Mythbusters. It's such a great concept for a show: to scientifically test preconceived notions about reality. We love documentaries too, especially about dinosaurs. Also Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Star Wars because we're geeks. :) My son has never been frightened by orcs, wraiths, or ogres but he still refuses to watch the Lion King at age 8. I guess all kids are different.

  14. I'm with anonymous, the Discovery Channel is great! My 5 year old son even adapted "Cash Cab" as a car trip game. Of course HE gets to be the cab dirver, from his car seat in the back, and most of the questions are long and hard to follow and usually have something to do with Star Wars. But he gets the point of the game - and can do all the sound effects!
    He is a total Star Wars geek (the Luke/Yoda/Darth episodes only so far) I'm a little reluctant to do Harry Potter yet, but can't wait to introduce him to the books in a couple of years.

  15. I haven't had time lately to keep up with Catherine's column AND her blog, so maybe she's already cleared this up. And, no, seriously, I don't lay awake at night and ponder this. I was reading this article and stumbled on the answer. Yes, Catherine and Michael are married. Hilarious, actually. Her wedding sounds a lot like mine. Exact same reason, similar attire (I wore jeans and a sweater, left work, went to the courthouse, and then went to pack for our move). Here's the article.

  16. FYI, your home page has some glitches on the right panel you may want to fix....just fyi. Thanks again for adding levity to mommyhood (I posted under positive4life on one of your pages).....

  17. Anonymous8:39 AM

    I know we're totally moved on to other more serious topics, but can we talk about bread one more time? I admit I am one of the ones who said "too hard" and it wasn't! It was awesome! Truely the hardest part was answering the question "what's eighteen hours from now?"
    Anyway, on the TV/movie thing, it is one of the hardest things to try to come to terms with as a parent. I think the most important thing, no matter where you come out, is to remember their 'tender hearts' and if you struggle and can't get comfortable with your resolution to the struggle, just listen to your gut and shut it off. If you can get comfortable, enjoy it with them and try to stop beating yourself up about it. But it is hard. By the way, I struggle with the racism in Peter Pan, the orginal musical score with Mary Martin. The music/lyrics/storyline are brillant, but my God, what do you do with those "Indians"? One of the songs is a lullabye that Peter remembers his mother singing to him--"My child, my very own, don't be afraid, you're not alone. Sleep until the dawn for all is well." It's our job to protect them. It's our job to try to make it so all is well. It's just so complicated. --Cathy K

  18. Anonymous11:27 PM

    My 5 yr old seems to like Tom & Jerry lately and it has been eye opening to see the voilence that I never noticed when I watched as a kid. I hate to say it, but "I watched those shows and I've never killed anyone". I am not terribly concerned that my daughter will start dropping anvils on her sister's head, but I do steer her TV time towards PBS kids programming when I can't be in the room with her.

    If you're looking for safe and nostalgic viewing, I took episodes of the Electric Company out from the library and the whole family enjoyed it.

  19. Anonymous10:39 AM

    Just read your new entry over at Wondertime. Thanks a lot. Now I want schnitzel. Dang, I want schnitzel so bad.

  20. Anonymous3:02 PM

    I can't get the new article. I have been checking for 3 days now. Wondertime is the worst site ever. Sometimes I won't see a new article and I'll just be clicking around the site and there it is and I have no idea how I got it. Is it so hard to put an article up on the site every Monday, arh. It is sooo frustrating.
    Could somebody please post the link.

  21. Anonymous3:38 PM

    I love the old cartoons, with their way of giving us all an education in classical music!

  22. we are having the same debate as all of you. My husband has just found Justice League on the web and of couse my superhero son is just going nuts over it. I find it really offensive and violent. My husband thinks its funny... What does my son think? He wants to be Wonder Woman, fantastic!

  23. I do screen my kid’s shows for content. I try to be thoughtful about the subtle lessons my kids might be getting from some shows. Also, I’ve definitely noticed changes in behavior after watching certain shows. Some quick examples, Sagwa began a phase of sarcasm and rudeness. Barbie movies encourage my oldest to over-the-top drama. However, they also had a lot of gems for the kids. So, we still allow the kids to watch them, but we talk about what is considered acceptable in our family. Part of multiculturalism is understanding that we all have differences, and that’s OK. I do draw a hard line on some issues, like racism. I am shocked sometimes at jokes and comments that I hear from even friends and acquaintances. I know that they do not consider themselves racist, yet they found these comments OK to make. (And by the way, I grew up a white, upper middle class girl in suburbia.)

    There are so many great shows out there to choose from, that I don’t see the point in turning on one that leaves me conflicted over its appropriateness. I don’t worry too much about whether I like a show or not. My kids are at a different developmental level than I am. Their interests in shows reflect what they are “working on” in their development. They let me know if they don’t like a show, and we either turn the television off or pick a different program. (Or they make the decision themselves by loosing interest and playing something else.) By listening to their interests, I can keep tabs on them. My son was yearning to watch shows about heroes and fighting. At first I bulked at the idea of putting on violence for him to watch. Then we talked some more and I realized what his issue was. The world is big and scary. He was just a little boy. He was searching for a super hero that was big and strong and able to handle anything. He wanted to be that way too when he faced the challenges of his day. So we compromised on Rescue Heroes. They were powerful and wise and able to overcome all sorts of problems ~ which satisfied him. However, they fight disasters (fires/floods/earthquakes/tornadoes) not other people, which made them acceptable to me. Now that he is a little older, I’m allowing a little more. He enjoyed The Incredibles, Sky High, Shark Boy and Lava Girl, just to name a few. I’m still not willing to let him watch Power Rangers, but there is room for compromise. Just my 2¢! :-)

  24. We currently have "Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers" out from Netflix - my son LOVES them. Thank God we are off Star Wars - for a while at least.

  25. We just watched "My Neighbor Totoro" and really liked it. No violence and while Totoro is big and roars sometimes, my sensitive kid likes him (though he still does find one scene a little scary...this is kid who thinks winnie the pooh is scary though)

  26. Anonymous4:30 PM

    I loved the newest column at Wondertime on cranky Birdy. I don't know what it is about 4. When my first child was almost two I mentioned to a friend that "the terrible twos are starting early." She answered "don't worry about the terrible twos -- it's the fucking fours that will get you down." She was right. Now that I am going through them again with my second child I am delighted to be able to read your take on this stage.
    I know leaving babyhood behind and becoming a big kid is hard -- but it sure is hard on the bystanders too!

  27. Anonymous10:35 PM


  28. Are you by any chance related to Catherine Newman Brown who was born in 1950...I think in Texas? We are related and I am looking for her because I have wonderful baby photos of her father (who was killed in Korea) and would love to give them to her.

    Sincerely hoping,
    Pam Bennett Young