Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Related 'Cause I Don't Understand Kids

Two tangentially related thoughts:

There was, a month or two back, a thread making the rounds on Twitter about how basically none of the major comic publishers make any comics suitable for kids age 5-7. Even the comics based on TV shows ostensibly for kids that age apparently had too many panels, too much dialogue, too many cultural references and in-jokes kids of that age wouldn't understand.

My initial reaction was that this was a load of bull, and not giving kids enough credit. I was introduced to comics when I was roughly five, and we're talking Claremont X-Men and Tom DeFalco-written Spider-Man comics. Neither of whom are authors known for brevity, and I won't claim to have understood everything (I had an issue from Kraven's Last Hunt, the one where Peter digs out of his own grave, and I sure as hell didn't know what was going on), but I understood enough to keep going. Though comics then would have generally done more to catch up the new reader each issue than comics now.

So I wondered if the writer wasn't selling kids short on their ability to comprehend and stick with a story. But I figured I didn't know, so leave it be.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, my TV is on and Teen Titans Go! is playing. Because if you have your TV on Cartoon Network at any point during the day, there's a 70% chance Teen Titans Go! is playing. I don't hate the show, though I find the jabs at the fans of the earlier Teen Titans show tiring, but sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's just annoying, and the line is thin. But it's not for me, given the number of friends I have who tell me their kids or young nephews love it. And that's fine.

I don't remember which episode specifically I was watching, but it was one of the ones with the terrible "moral" at the end. There are a lot of those, where one of the Titans or the entire team do something awful or completely ignorant and the episode treats it as the right thing. Like the Titans becoming villains because being heroes was interrupting their goof-off time. Or eating unhealthy foods and wasting money to kill off their future selves who had come back to force them to eat better and be thrifty to prolong and improve their own lives (which, to be fair, I found pretty funny). Most anytime Robin's competitiveness causes him to behave like a dick, or the show rewards the other characters for willful ignorance. Etc., etc.

Whichever episode it was I saw, I wondered to myself if kids watching recognize the show is trying to be funny, and that the kids shouldn't try to apply the "lessons". My gut feeling is they do, because they know the show isn't trying to be serious, but I can't be sure. This isn't a pearl clutching thing, I'm not worried the kids are being corrupted, more just curious about how they perceive this versus how I do. Most of the cartoons when I was young were pretty aggressive with their messages of everyone getting along (except the bad guys, who were Bad), any differences being settled with everyone learning a valuable lesson at the end, drugs are bad. That kind of thing. A different experience.

I'm not drawing any sort of conclusion from either of these things, other than the one in the title of the post, which I already knew. But it was something I'd been mulling over for a few weeks.


SallyP said...

Hey, I was five when I first was exposed to comics too! It was Astoria at the dentist's office, and it was in French. I absolutely loved it.

Cartoons always remedy to be the initial way to introduce little kids to comics... thank you Saturday mornings and Hanna-Barbara. Is that still a thing?

CalvinPitt said...

I don't think Saturday morning cartoons are a thing anymore, not on the networks anyway. But I guess with a couple of networks that show nothing but cartoons it seemed superfluous?

I should ask my friends if they're seeking out Teen titans Go! comics for their kids and nephews or not. Hopefully they don't try and give them any recent issues of the regular Teen Titans book. I don't think that thing' been any good since at least flashpoint, maybe longer. And who knows about being good and being suitable for kids. Maybe pre-Infinite Crisis?