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Photography Warner Bros, Nickelodeon, Disney, PBS, Britt Allcroft Productions Sources:,,,,

majority of his staff. But Disney had talent and a vision and finally, in 1928, Walt Disney released the first, full-length cartoon with synchronized sound: Steamboat Willie. The cartoon lacked both dialogue and plot. It followed a mouse as he rides a tugboat, moving cargo, beating animals, and dancing senselessly. But despite the cartoon’s apparent simplicity, Steamboat Willie was met with tremendous success. Disney’s triumph was not a product of thoughtful criticism or witty humor. Instead, his audience enjoyed the joyous and carefree nature of his cartoons. Disney’s later releases brought more of that hopeful elation, victories over the gloom and melancholy of the Depression. The singing and the dancing were all distractions from the decade’s misery, as well as a ray of hope for better times. Disney’s efforts brought cartoons into the mainstream and established the animation industry we know today. From its humble beginnings in 1930 to the present, the animation industry has delivered to a vast American audience an equally expansive range of programs and shows. Cartoons became a means of influencing the youngest generation of Americans. Cartoons weren’t necessarily restricted to entertainment and often times served other purposes. During World War

II, Bugs Bunny showed his patriotism by telling children to urge their parents to buy war bonds to fund the war effort. During the cold war, Rocky and Bullwinkle worked to keep the ‘jet fuel formula’ from the fiendish but inept Natasha Fatale and Boris Badenov, agents of the fictitious country, Pottsylvania. Over the years cartoons have shifted with the mind-set of the American public. The Jetsons captured the excitement sparked by the space race and the lunar landing. Schoolhouse Rock reflected a decade of education reform. And today’s, Ni Hao, Kai Lan, shows the increasing influence of China on American culture. Cartoons have changed with American culture – grown, changed. From slapstick comedy to political undertones to moral and educational enrichment, cartoons have delivered to the youth a variety of subject matter, which is often indicative to the American mind-set. But cartoons are still cartoons. We can’t just analyze the impact of Rocky and Bullwinkle by the amount of references it makes to the Soviet Union. We can’t judge the worth of Mickey Mouse by the number of viewers he’s reached. No matter its purpose, a cartoon is only as valuable as the happiness it has spread. From a spinning wheel of printed pictures to a feature-length, IMAX movie, the cartoon has become an essential element of modern culture. 17

The MArk October 2010  
The MArk October 2010  

This is the October edition of Menlo-Atherton's student magazine. Doesn't the weather make you want to curl up by the fire with a nice copy...