Casale, Austin Jeff Naftzinger ENC 1101 11/17/13 Who Should Really be Watching Cartoons? Adventure Time is one of the most watched television shows at the moment according to TV.com and it airs on the Cartoon Network television station. This is a station that is mostly based around a younger audience. It caters to young kids coming home from school or sitting inside on hot summer days. If this is the case why are there so many young adults watching shows on Cartoon Network? Clearly we are dealing with an odd generation of hyper obsessed men and women that can’t face the real world so they watch cartoons, right? Well, no that’s not it really, that’s not even close. Could there be a hidden element to the show that is actually applicable to older men and women? The answer is a simple ‘yes.’ Naturally, the men and women who write and produce children’s shows are no less mature than any other writer or producer. They have different aspirations and a different genre, but they don't think like children. The writers take time to insert witty material that is quite simply, above the heads of the kids who would typically watch these shows. There are more mature jokes that are harmless to younger kids because they would never understand them. Their style of humor is more involved and intelligent than even most adult humor. They have to work around profanity and obvious obscenity, but still get a laugh. They work around what is allowed in a children’s show and inject a mature comedic element to attract older viewers.
2 Adventure Time is not the first cartoon or show that kids watch to have this kind of humor though. It has been seen in The Looney Tunes, Disney movies and shows, The Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series, The Ren and Stimpy Show, The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, and many more. Lately, Cartoon Network Studios seems to be trying to intentionally add shows to their station that have an application to older viewers. It is now home to the two most well known cartoon shows for young adults. It hosts Adventure Time and Regular Show. Regular Show is largely based around the creator’s experiences and life while he was in college so a lot of more adult themes will often come up. Now if I’ve convinced you already that Adventure Time is a show young adults can be watching it shouldn’t be a problem when it comes to Regular Show. Young adults anywhere from age 18-30 are really watching these shows and popularizing them more than the young kids are. Maybe these shows don’t even have to be limited to being seen by kids and young adults though. There is always the possibility that one-day people will stop generalizing the idea that cartoons are a child’s form of entertainment. The era of technology is still fairly new and advertising and the first application of an idea is still fairly relevant in the larger scheme of things. For example, cartoons and animation were originally designed for younger kids to watch because they were a more imaginative unrealistic form of entertainment. In the end sometimes the only difference between some cartoon and live action shows is style in which they are presented. Since this is the case then it should at least be a possibility that people shouldn’t be judged or shrugged off as immature for watching cartoons. A lot of these cartoons could have a larger audience than what they’ve already got because they are a form of entertainment that requires a lot of work and energy to produce. Every element of them is created and designed
3 Casale from nothing while live action television has a lot to go off of. There’s even an argument that cartoons or animations are a more mature form of entertainment because of the ideas behind them to create a show. Pendleton Ward and his team put incredible effort into the Adventure Time television series. The animation style is fairly simple yet incredibly unique. It has a style to it that is child like and cute but, more than anything, very colorful and a bit comedic even. The art style doesn’t clearly imply any target group. The animators work subtle things into the backgrounds of scenes like the reoccurring snail in Adventure Time and they add a lot of small things that really come together in the show like Finn being possibly the only surviving human. Even the characters have more to them than it seems at first glance. They developed subtle relationships between certain characters that are too mature for children to understand. All of this contributes to the show overall and it leaves obvious elements that most kids aren’t mature enough to appreciate. Now if kids can't even notice a lot of these things then who could they be intended for? I think it’s more likely that the creators and crew intend to make a show that is applicable to more than just kids. The humor and themes directly target an older audience frequently in the shows. There is an array of jokes made in the show that often have several layers to them and mature undertones. They make jokes in front of kids that are intended for an older audience. Some of the jokes made are very subtle but still humorous. At first glance, when Finn warns the nut kingdom that there is an undead army on the way to sack the nut castle you might not get the joke. Very young kids don’t follow that kind of comedy very well. There are other jokes where the comedy is just mature to the point where a kid wouldn’t understand what they were referencing really. In the Episode “I Remember You” Marceline has the Ice King bound in
4 cords and the Ice King remarks that he enjoys being bound by her. She drops him immediately and much more isn’t said, but young adults understood what was going on. The entire candy kingdom in the show in fact has one big joke going on a lot of the time. All of the people there are made from candy and at times they are tricked into eating candy. The guards of the town for example are bananas and in an episode where Jake is pulling off a heist he gives the banana guard a smoothie. After the guard sips it he asks what flavor he got him and Jake tells him it is banana and the guard exclaims “The forbidden flavor! It's—delicious.” Cannibalism is a pretty common thing in the show that is played off because they never directly mention eating their own kind. In a far earlier episode there are sexual jokes made by the character Tree Trunks. Tree Trunks is an old elephant and she tries to seduce a tentacle monster and afterword she says “Everybody gets lonely.” There is a joke in season two where Jake says, "Make her think it was her idea! That's how you make the ladies do what you want...." and this isn't something kids could appreciate as far as humor goes. Other times the joke made aren’t even subtle, they are rather clear-cut and it’s incredible some of the things they get away with. In the first season there is an episode called “Ricardio the Heart Guy” the character is voiced by George Takei and has some fairly mature lines. George Takei is a fairly well known homosexual actor with a recognizable voice. He is fairly popular among young adults and even older men and women. In the episode he talks about a massage that is intended for only “best friends” and that it was “completely consensual”. This is a fairly strangely sexual joke that young adults would be most likely to take interest in. He then tries to carve out Princess Bubblegum’s heart with a glass bottle. There is also a character called Lady Rainicorn, the character speaks only Korean in the show. She has said things about running naked through a garden with Jake to asking Jake to wrap
5 Casale his legs around her, to which Jake responds “I remember why I drowned that translator now!” The humor isn’t something immediate unless you speak Korean, but it is hidden just below the surface. In the episode “Blood Under the Skin” a female character was originally designed with armor that had chained maces where the characters nipples would have been. The censor board told them once again to fix it and make it friendlier for a younger audience. The creators know that young adults watch the show and they also are adults themselves so they enjoy to try and push the envelope when they can. Some of their jokes don’t make the cut though. There is an episode in which several characters lose their clothes and need to cover up with something. In the original design they cover their parts with beavers, but the network forced them to change it. They instead had each of the characters cover themselves with wood. In another episode called “The city of Thieves” which is about the loss of purity and having unclean hands. In this episode Finn was intended to say “We’re virgins!” but the network intervened once again and they changed it to “We’re virgin islands!” which makes less since here but it does have context. Young adults can appreciate what happens in this episode because it is something that is more relatable to what happens in their lives. Young kids would be able to learn a lesson here, but would not pick up on the mature undertones young adults enjoy. Regular Show is another well-known cartoon and it is far from regular, a lot of people consider it to be nightmare fuel for young kids. This show also has cannibals in it just as Adventure Time, but it has added disturbing content. They have characters that are flayed alive and others that are just very creepy from the start in just about every episode. This show even kills off characters, which is a very strange element to add to a show for kids. There are episodes with multiple fatalities actually. In the episode “Death Metal Crash Pit” an RV crushes
6 band that is entirely ghosts and causes a large explosion that kills the entire audience and two characters that were recurring characters. The audience doesn’t just die either, their skin melts off and their eyeballs fall out of their skulls. The art style for the show is nothing like the cute, colorful, and friendly art style seen in Adventure Time. It resembles the art style of something you would see on Adult Swim more than it does something on Cartoon Network. They have a knack for drawing fairly disturbing faces and there isn’t an episode that goes by without making you wonder what the censors were thinking to let the show on Cartoon Network. Young adults once again bring a large part of the fan base. They can appreciate what the show has to offer and not be frightened by the art style, but instead find humor or interest in it. The show is fairly dark and gritty too. Many young adults enjoy shows that are out of the ordinary and do strange things. Pretty much every episode of Regular Show has of violence or strange adult themes that young adults can really appreciate. The show also references a lot of different pop culture things that children would not understand. In the episode “Picking up Margret,” they mock the popular scene from the movie ‘The Warriors’ when their character Luther says “Mordecai, put your phone away!” Both characters say it in the same way and are clanking three objects together in their hand while leaning out of a car window. J.G Quintel is the man behind Regular Show and he was also the creative director for the show The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack. This should explain a bit because that show also had a very dark art style and a lot of more adult humor. These shows are created for young adults, but also to apply to kids who watch Cartoon Network. J.G Quintel also has made two student films 2 in the AM PM and The Naive Man From Lolliland. Both of these are
7 Casale clearly not designed for children either. 2 in the AM PM actually features the characters in Regular Show, Mordecai and Benson. The show is filled with absurd humor and it seeks to fill everything a good show should. It has humorous moments, creepy moments, sad moments, inappropriate moments, and even moments to make you think. All of these things can be appreciated by anyone, not just kids. Some people argue that this era of young adults still watching cartoons is just some sort of phase but it really does seem unlikely. The current cartoons are just more mature and call on a larger audience than their networks are known for sometimes. Cartoons tend to have a lot more to them than a simple sitcom or TV series might. Plus every young adult and older was a kid once and they can relate to what happens in cartoons and sometimes feel more like a kid again. It wouldn’t be an escape in order to avoid facing the world they currently live in…it’s just something that they enjoy. People don’t take enough time nowadays to recognize the fact that it’s not about what people should be watching. It is or at least should always be about watching what you want to watch in most cases. It isn’t harming anyone or affecting anything beyond how someone is entertained.