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).