Cartoon enthusiasts (adults, I should point out) often lament the disappearance of certain cartoons or modern censorship of cartoons. Old movies not being rereleased, wartime shorts being swept under the carpet, Noddy characters being ‘retired’ and many old stories being sliced, chopped and sweetened. Times change and it can be quite sad if parts of your childhood get left behind when that happens.
Above is one of my favourite Roobarb images from the Calveley/Godfrey original.
So much character. A lovely drawing, so spontaneous. And one that I kept close to me when I was directing the second series. We couldn’t put a cigar in his mouth these days, of course. And that’s fairly minor compared to some of the changes in children’s entertainment. You don’t have to go too far back to find the level of violence, racism and just about everything else is completely on another scale.
Going even further, pre-television, to the real children’s classics, where wolves ate grandparents and, well, everyone ate everyone else, it’s easy to see the difference. Back when most of those stories were written, the life of a child was uncertain. Survival rates were low. Many children didn’t make it to adulthood. Those who did lost family and friends along the way. As my mother once pointed out to me, stories often had to do more to prepare a child for death than prepare them for life.
Luckily, most children in the Western world now have a far better survival rate. Dealing with death beyond the loss of a hamster is not something most have to face on any kind of regular basis. Many of us frown upon the violence of our ancestors, the racism, the intolerance.
We did a lot of things in the past we simply don’t do now.
And, hopefully, we’ll do things even better in the future. We move forward. In doing that, we have to leave that behind which is no longer relevant. We have to let it go to make a better world. A more fun world, a more tolerant world, a more expressive world. A world filled with laughter, confidence and exploration.
That’s a great thing.