A couple of days ago, watching one of these teen TV shows got me thinking: will Hanna Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, and other similar shows be watched 10 or 20 years from now? How about 50 years from now? There are at least 5 cartoons crossing my mind that not only our parents used to watch, but also us and even the children of today. Maybe not with the same excitement as we did, but still, if they get to watch a couple of episodes, they’re hooked.
So, at the end of the day, what makes these classic cartoons never grow old?
1. Betty Boop
One of these classics is, of course, Betty Boop. Although, I must admit that I didn’t watch so many Betty Boop episodes, I could instantly draw this character from memory. There’s just something about Betty Boop that has been fascinating generations for almost a century now. Because, even if you don’t see Betty Boop episodes airing very often, you still come across her face on T-shirts, mugs, lighters or figurines. Whether it’s Betty’s pretty face, her unique, squeaky voice, her curly black hair or the stories she told with every episode, one thing is clear: Betty Boop is still on our minds.
And if we have an unforgettable female character, it’s only natural to have a male one as well. Even if he might not have Betty’s beauty, his strength and loyalty to his loved one makes this character one of the most memorable of all times. This is Popeye, and I bet that just saying his name makes you think about spinach. Although it’s one of the most controversial cartoons, because of the violence and smoking, I think that, in most cases, Popeye was the one who made children eat spinach, rather than start smoking. In my opinion, Popeye isn’t a great cartoon because of the plot. Because, let’s face it, it’s always the same. But what makes it stand out from the crowd is this idea that even you can become a superhero if you just eat your vegetables. And that makes Popeye more of a role model than any other character of today’s teen TV shows.
3. Tom & Jerry
One of the most creative classic cartoons is, by far, Tom & Jerry. If, with Popeye, the plot wasn’t much of an attraction, with Tom & Jerry, it’s all about the plot. And these funny, already legendary characters, of course. But it’s absolutely amazing to be able to create an entire show revolving around a cat, a mouse, and sometimes the neighbor’s dog. And what makes Tom & Jerry even more fascinating is that most episodes don’t even have any lines. It’s all about the action being cleverly supported by the background music. This doesn’t only make Tom & Jerry unique, but also more appealing than any other cartoon, because anybody, no matter their age or nationality, can watch and understand it.
4. Looney Tunes
If we’re talking about wacky characters, the most representative cartoon is clearly Looney Tunes. If Tom & Jerry seemed a bit crazy fighting all day long, Looney Tunes is all about a large group of characters that just can’t stay put. They are always doing something nuts, planning a scheme, chasing each other and making fun of every situation. Looney Tunes is not only a cartoon, but a collection of stories, each one with its own characters that are extremely well shaped and always eager to make us laugh.
5. Mickey Mouse
Since we’re on the topic of complex cartoons, Mickey Mouse is definitely a name that can not be overlooked. It is so complex that it actually crossed the barrier of being just another classic, becoming an actual brand. From books to toys, clothing items and several amusement parks, Mickey Mouse is the image of one of the greatest entertainment brands in the world. And if, with most classics, we can only see reruns of the old episodes, Mickey Mouse is still “performing” in Disney’s cartoons of the moment. Along with Pluto, Goofy, Minnie, Donald & Daisy, Mickey Mouse is a classic that is constantly being reinvented to suit children’s desires, anywhere and anytime.
Guess all you need to prevent a cartoon from growing old is charismatic characters, an educational message, a funny plot that anybody can understand, out of the ordinary situations, adaptation to the present desires and constant advertising. But all these would be worthless without that one secret ingredient that can turn a cartoon in more than just a children’s show. It’s the glue that keeps all the other ingredients together. It’s like Coca Cola: the ones who find it make the best recipe in the world, while the others are still looking for it. Few people know what the secret ingredient is and, frankly, I don’t think that today’s teen TV shows and cartoons have it.