Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tom & Jerry

teh
I’m not one of those people who thinks violence in the media (movies, TV, video games, music) necessarily “makes” someone violent. Nor do I advocate any sort of mandatory regulation of violent content in the media.

Having said that, I was recently surprised to find my self uncomfortable watching a violent cartoon. A cartoon I grew up with and found nothing wrong with at the time: Tom & Jerry.

Let me explain. I’ve spent a significant amount of time over the last couple of years watching cartoons and kids shows with my son who is now almost 3. I’ve actually come to appreciate modern programming aimed at toddlers and pre-schoolers. Most of it is creative, educational and entertaining. Who can watch an episode of Little Bear and not feel good afterward?

Coming off this experience, I decided to sit down with my son the other day and watch one of the classics from Daddy’s day. The story of an ongoing adversarial relationship between a cat and a mouse. But once we got watching the cartoon, I began to feel uncomfortable. The amount of violence in the Tom & Jerry just seemed wrong. Not dangerous, just wrong. I felt like I was showing my son a soft-core porn flick or something.

The violence was so pointless, my son kept asking me why Tom was shooting/hammering/smacking/clubbing Jerry and visa versa. I really didn’t have an answer. I might have said “because it’s funny” but it really wasn’t.

This got me to wondering what I ever saw in Tom & Jerry. For one thing, back in my days as a kid there was never more than one TV channel that had cartoons or any kids show on at any given time other, of course, than Saturday morning. So if I wanted to watch TV, I had to take what I could get. As for why I didn’t walk away, I suppose it did provide some level of entertainment. I doubt I ever laughed out loud at a Tom & Jerry cartoon but the action provided a spectacle to watch. I suppose it’s not much different than an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis movie in that regard.

By the way, if you are a fan of cartoons from back in the day, there is a new cable channel specializing in them. It’s called Boomerang and is a subsidiary of the Cartoon network. Currently, I don’t think it’s available in Springfield via Insight Cable except for a few cartoons on their digital On Demand service (where we caught Tom & Jerry).

2 comments:

Anti-mozza said...

-cartoon: tom and jerry

-types of aggression portrayed :specificaly looking at the violence

in the tom and jerry cartoons. in one episode there were 2

attempted suicides, the cat got hit 4 times with various objects, the

mouse got hit 2 times and the dog beat up the cat at the end.

-my point of view :In my opinion,This would have to be

monitored by the parent/guardian.

Take away this type of cartoon

and you would have to remove half of anything children see, that

includes comics, religious books, toys. The list is endless. At it's

not just visual. We would have to monitor even more what

children hear in normal conversation.

It's a little bit like taking away sport at school with the belief that

maybe someone will get hurt. It would make for a very dull life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for being right on target and sensitive enough about your son's mental health to see the harm!! Your words are such a comfort to me as I am going through a similar struggle with Grandparents who watch my son while I work and have been showing him this cartoon. I finally had to talk to them about age appropriate programs. Sure, Tom and Jerry is fine entertainment but not for a 2 year old!!

Sorry Anti-mozza, it is nothing like taking away a sport at school so a child won't get hurt. It's about being a responsible parent and protecting a child's mind from things that are harmful at an early age. As with all things, we have tons of options that are age appropriate and helpful for our children. I would let my son play with cars or trains, but not a loaded pistol. I would let my son watch Little Einsteins, Thomas the Tank engine or Bob the Builder, but not a rated R movie. As a parent we have to make wise choices and protect our children because I am finding more and more that no one else in this world will. And I am also finding that animated movies and things I fondly remember enjoying as a child are not necessarily safe for a toddler - somehow I have to find the time in my day to preview this stuff before exposing my son to it.