Wednesday, September 1, 2010

That Cartoon Guy

Why didn't all of my friends with kids tell me about the terrific "Phineas & Ferb" cartoon? An egregious dereliction of duty, you guys. -- From my Twitter Feed, August 22.

As the father of a six-year-old, I've watched a fair amount of animated television over the past few years.

Like most parents, Mrs. Bootleg and I had grand plans for limiting Jalen's TV intake when he was younger. We thought there were other, better ways to (1) stimulate his mind; (2) nurture his creativity and (3) pass along social skills he'd need as he grew older.

Unfortunately, (1) three-year-old Jalen had no patience for those kiddie jigsaw puzzles; (2) four-year-old Jalen only wanted to draw baseball diamonds, ballplayers or his 22-year-old babysitter and (3) five-year-old Jalen was either inconsolable if he lost at a board game or insufferable if he won.

Today, Jalen gets more television that we'd originally intended. In our defense, though, he also watches several hours of Oakland A's baseball each week…which hurts both our hearts. Over the years, these are the animated programs that have brought more pleasure than pain.

Phineas & Ferb -- I only discovered this show about a month ago. Jalen was immersed within an especially
blog-worthy medical emergency and home from school. During a half-hearted round of "remote roulette", we came across two boys who spend their summer vacation hatching outlandish ideas while inadvertently tormenting their older sister. Throw in a secret agent platypus, a stereotypically evil mad scientist and…well, you'll just have to trust me on this: it works. All of it.

Little Bill -- When I was Jalen's age, cartoons with predominantly African-American characters weren't uncommon. We had
superheroes, fallen angels, kung-fu fighters and Fat Albert. NBC's A Different World pretty much ruined the two-dimensional black caricature concept during the early '90s, before Bill Cosby brought it back with Little Bill. It's ridiculously preachy and PC, but Jalen's breathless exclamation ("He looks like me!") during our first viewing kept this one in DVR rotation for awhile.

Curious George -- This was the first cartoon that Jalen was way into. It was the theme for his third birthday party and we still have random licensed merchandise (bubble machine, fleece blanket and a bazillion bedtime books) scattered around Stately Bootleg Manor. The mischievous monkey also created a brief family controversy when Mrs. Bootleg excitedly suggested our son dress up as Curious George for Halloween. I don't exercise my "paternal veto power" all that much, but when your African-American wife wants to put a monkey face on your African-American son…no.

Can You Teach My Alligator Manners? -- These shorts air between feature cartoons on the Playhouse Disney channel. It's listed here solely for its opening sequence. Y'see, it's become increasingly evident that Jalen will NOT be inheriting his mother's exemplary dancing genes. Watching him imitate the dancing at the beginning of the above clip nearly brings Mrs. Bootleg to tears.


Lew B. said...


22 year old babysitter, you say?

Also, I think it would be awesome to let Jalen be Curious George. it would be so un-PC people wouldn't know what to make of it.

I was telling Mj that i would dress up as any historical Jew you like, and then take young Curious George trick or treating.

But Mj thought that wasn't a fair deal, since I was offering to be an historical figure in exchange for J being a monkey.

So I'll be Weird Al Yankovitch. That's way more humiliating than being a monkey.

that mexican guy said...

Please tell me that every minute of "Hong Kong Phooey" was as brilliantly offensive as the theme song.

I've never been sadder to have spent my youth in another country. What other animated ethnic lampoons have I missed???

SHough610 said...

No Dini-verse DCAU? He doesn't watch the Justice League or JLU? And as a gift for Jalen (and yourself) you should pick up the DVDs of the old Batman animated series from the '90's.

Aaron C. said...

@MEX -- "Hong Kong Phooey" is actually on the Boomerang cartoon channel. Saw a few minutes of it last night. I daresay only "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Manimal" have aged worse than this show. Unwatchable.

@SAM -- I've got ALL the JLU, Justice League and Dini-Batman. Haven't broken the seal with Jalen yet. J asks a million and one questions about every cartoon and having him inadvertently shoot holes in the plot of a Batman ep would hurt my heart.

Josh said...

I'm the only thing in Aaron's life that Jalen hasn't questioned extensively.

Apparently, he accepts sarcastic Jews with bad knees as one of the wonders of the world and is happy to leave it at that.