How to Be a Dad

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BEWARE: Cartoons Are Loaded with Lies

Posted by on February 20th, 2012, under NOTEBOOK

Beware Cartoons Are Loaded with Lies

Cartoons are loaded with animals. They’re also loaded with lies! It’s true. Uh… I mean it’s true about the lying part, that there are lies. Anyway! Kids’ books, animated shows, toys, breakfast cereal boxes, restaurant activity mats, you name it, they are all filled with breathtaking inaccuracies about the Wild Kingdom.

“So what,” right? We all know that they’re filled with fantasy and artistic license. But at what point exactly do we know this? When we were little grubby grenades of youth ourselves, did we really think about it? We were being kids, learning and having fun using orange crayons to color in cute crocodiles. We knew they were super friendly because their mouths were so gigantic when they smiled, right?

I’m not trashing cartoons in any way—I love them! Probably too much. Waaaaay too much. And I’m in no way suggesting some kind of reform, like an Honesty in Cartooning Act. Frankly, I don’t want to live in a world without cartoons and the thought of “accurate cartoons” makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

However, there’s an interesting side-effect that can occur in life because of these brightly-colored characters we grow up with. I’m saying “we” because I’m really hoping that it wasn’t just me. There’s a point when you start to learn, for real, about some animals. Animals that have even helped to teach you the alphabet by representing a letter.

scary opposumThe opossum goes “Hhhhhhhhhgh!”
 
The first time I saw a one of these I said something like: “Holy sh#t!!! Radiation-mutated rat from New York!!!” The person I was with laughed and told me it was an opossum. I wanted to say something about the fact that I’d thought they were cuter, like in cartoons, and not so… mutant-rat looking. I may or may not have asked some supremely dumb question about why it wasn’t hanging from its tail in a tree. Ehem. Or something.
 
Kiss your picnic basket and your ass goodbye.
 
Winnie the Pooh, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Fozzie, the Berenstain Bears, Care Bears, take your pick. I don’t have a clear recollection of when this reality hit me upside the head because even now I have to actually force myself, with great difficulty, to think of any of these characters being associated in any way with the beast shown here.
 
Hippopotamus attacking wildebeastHippo: “NOM!” Widlebeast: “Ohsh#t-ohsh#t-ohsh#t!”
 
I can chant the advertising jingle for the kids’ game Hungry Hungry Hippos, a fun board game set with goofy plastic hippos with levers to make them gobble up marbles. When I was about 20-years-old I saw a show about the hippopotamus. I was horrified. I tried to reconcile pictures in my head of the ballet-dancing hippos of Disney’s Fantasia with the documentary commentary, “one of the most aggressive and dangerous creatures in the world” and “it can easily outrun a human.”
 
Do NOT mess with George. Just hand over the red balloon and run!
 
I’ve loved Curious George since I was little. All my boys have, especially my youngest. So I recently got curious myself and hit the internet to see what George was. I read that one primatologist concluded that he’s an ape. That no tail plus knuckle-walking rules out all monkeys and narrows down the field to chimps and gorillas. At which point, all the daring episodes of Chimp Eden I’d ever seen came crashing down on me. And I had to shake off a picture of The Man in the Yellow Hat appearing on Oprah after massive reconstructive surgery to the remnants of his face. (Shudder!) I shrugged it off and popped on the TV, Lucas and I laughing as George constructed the worst tree house in the universe. Hilarious!
 

These were just some examples when the real Circle of Life was brought home to me. I’d like to think I’m not a moron. I tell myself that these mistakes and misconceptions are perfectly understandable when you compare the super boring detachment of school textbooks against the sparkling, sound-effected allure of Saturday morning cartoons. There’s no contest! Those books were made by people who may not have even studied animals in their actual natural habitats, and definitely didn’t color them in with orange crayons like the people who make cartoons do.

Our Facebook Habitat
Don’t worry. Facebook can not easily outrun a human.

Instructional Diagrams
There are some pictures here that are way more misleading than cartoons. Enjoy.
 

22 Comments

22 Responses to “BEWARE: Cartoons Are Loaded with Lies”

  1. Digimuzik says:

    This video absolutely sums up this post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUYPEhFTdkA (If Kids Shows Were Real)

  2. David Barchas says:

    Talking cars? Kids that build spaceships and rollercoasters in their backyard? It’s fantasy, nothing more obviously.

    But yea, the list of offenses is huge in the cartoon animal kingdom. We are watching lion king currently, over and over and over… A lion hanging out with a baboon? Dude, that lion would eat that fucker in a flash.

    It’s not like it got any better as I grew up. A Team, no one ever got hit by a single bullet. 5 billion rounds fired, not 1 hit. Special forces my ass.

    I’m guessing Real Bambi wouldn’t be interesting. Tick infested, rutting, grass eating.

    At least those were making an effort to not suck. You want to see suck? Go watch “the dolphin” on Netflix. http://4sp.in/71w thats actually one of the better horrors my kid has found because of Netflix recommendations. Obviously they think our taste in movies is utter crap.

    In the end, I actually think its good. Cartoons having unreality of character types, makes for a separation between fantasy and reality. Fantasy is awesome, where cars can talk, toys have feelings, aliens exist, monsters are cute and cuddly. Reality, is cars are driven by idiots, toys come and go and don’t care, aliens still exist but abduct you and anal probe you, and monsters are that guy wearing those Unabomber glasses. Ashley knows lions will rip your freakin head off and eat you, but not cartoon lions.

    • Andy says:

      LOL! All good points, including Netflix’s “Movies That Suck We Think You’ll Like” engine. ;)

      • Braindonkey says:

        Dont even get me started on netflix.
        They think I am a retarded, comic con, sci fi, 4 year old, pedophile.

        • Andy says:

          LOL!!! What the hell have you been watching/rating????

          • Braindonkey says:

            oh wait I forgot Nazi and Animal lover as well.

            I think we totally screw the curve on there.
            My dad watches all these nazi documentaries and foreign films.
            Ashley is the animals and kid stuff obviously.
            My mom watching baby crap and swedish movies and politics.
            Me with sci fi and action.
            Wife is touchy feely comedy.

            Specifically its my kid’s choices I think. We are currently watching “The Dolphin” over and over and over and over and over. OMG DOES THAT MOVIE SUCK.

  3. E says:

    Just make them watch nature shows. Wouldn’t that solve your problem? They will never be surprised about all the horrible things about animals, because they will already know!

    Though, if you want to be REALLY shocked, look up dolphin rape.

  4. Melissa says:

    Hilarious! Reminds me of the time when I found out that swans are not lovely serene creatures, but vicious, aggressive attack birds! My father in law tried to chase some off with a rake at their summer house, and they still came after him. Those things are nasty!

    • Andy says:

      I remember that moment myself and it was in real life not on a nature show. Scared the crap out of me as a kid. When something is supposed to be calm, cute and lovely turns on you… yeah, that’s freakier than something that you already now is mean or dangerous.

  5. S says:

    Makes me think of koala bears. Everyone thinks they’re so cute and cuddly. In reality they are smelly, mean, drug addicts that will bite the hell out of you.

    Btw, I live in Texas and that opossum caption had me rolling. There are few things more frightening than the glowing eyes of a opossum in the bushes, followed by a loud hiss. They’re like leprosy and rabies on legs! This coming from an animal lover.

    • Andy says:

      YES!!! I almost put Koala’s in this post. The reality of them is hilarious and you described it perfectly! Still cute and cuddley wuddley, but from behind protective barriers or the safety of a TV screen. ;)

  6. Christina says:

    I coulda sworn animals could talk…

    Oh..but that illusion was created way before my mom let me watch cartoons…go go Prince Caspian!!!

    The bear one reminded me of an exchange between Bones and a toy manufacturer. TM mentions that teddy bears are the best selling toy – Bones says that’s horrible…she’d never let her kid play with a bear! Playing with bears is dangerous and they’ll bite your head off.

    You get the gist. <3

  7. Brian says:

    I love it when they try to put in just one thing that is true about an animal and the horrifying implications it leaves. In one show, a daddy penguin carries his egg on his feet just like they do on frozen Antarctic nights. But he drops it and can’t find it and learns a lesson on retracing his steps. He finds the egg and they all live happily ever after and all I can think about is how that egg just became a frozen ball of dead penguin baby the instant it touched the ice.

    • Andy says:

      Ha ha ha ha ha! So true!!! We sit there and smile and bob our heads encouragingly with our little ones and refrain from letting them know what we now know. “Poor dead penguin.” ;)

  8. So none of these animals can talk in real life? That kind of sucks. I always thought that Gnus were very well spoken.

  9. anthropomorphism – it’s as cool to say as it is to see but when it’s put into action kids get their hands bit off.

  10. Drew says:

    To quote an awesome t-shirt over on Threadless: “Real bear hugs are often fatal”

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