As I confessed in a previous post, I am quite a fan of cartoons. Anime and otherwise. I find that they hold a certain charm that programs generally more aimed at an adult audience don’t have.
There are two things that I especially enjoy about cartoons:
- They are not afraid to be obscenely ridiculous.
2. They are not so preoccupied with aspirations of meaning that they miss the whole point.
The ambition of greatness often gets in the way of actually obtaining greatness. If one sits down with the intent of creating some great and masterful work, it is inevitable that the aspiration holder will never reach that end.
I find it is always the case with me. I am only one person and can therefore only speak for one of the billions of people on this planet. But it has proven infallible that if I ever set out with the goal of creating something that will stand the test of time and resound throughout the ages, I always, and I mean always, end up with a useless, ungrounded, piece of less than esoteric garbage.
It’s my theory that this is the case with many forms of television (and all forms of entertainment for that matter).
A person sets out with the Herculean task of creating something that will suit the pallet of the masses and ends up forgetting what they set out to do in first place.
That’s just it.
Many artists set out with no other goal than to conform, which is a recipe for disaster in itself…Either this actually leads them to disaster or…to rampant success simply by virtue of suiting the mutual meaningless goal of the majority.
But that’s an entirely different blog post.
In any case,
I think that cartoons (specifically when speaking of the television medium) have an advantage over the rest, because from the outset they are not expected to produce any form of revelational wisdom. When one thinks cartoons, they usually think children. And when one thinks children, they usually think of the ignorant bliss of nonsense which permeates most forms of child play.
I think that the mistake we make there is that we underestimate the purposeful potential of a child’s mind and inflate our own just because it’s been around longer.
I was talking to a friend’s children this afternoon (ages 8 and 14), and I was amused at the fact that it felt like the most purpose driven conversation I’ve had all day. Granted, I haven’t actually spoken to many people today. After all, I’m the type of person who sits happily locked in their room, typing away at a keyboard for long periods of time. But still, the fifteen minute conversation I had with those children seemed like the most refreshingly honest conversation I’ve had for a long time.
What was the conversation about? you may ask.
Well, cartoons, of course.
The conversation started off direct and to the point with the question of “What’s your favorite cartoon?”
No small talk necessary. No setting of the stage. No veiled meanings. No aspirations to the politeness of indirectness.
The conversation was so unpretentious and obvious.
It just was.
It sat in the air and reveled in the sheer purity of its existence.
I feel like with a lot of adult conversations or the lofty dreams of television shows, there’s this constant question of whether or not what is happening is actually happening. And in addition to that, is it happening well.
“Am I succeeding at this conversation?” the conversational partner seems to ask at the end of each measured sentence.
“Am I impressing you with my wittiness and astonishing modern relevance?” the television show asks.
With cartoons, because the expectation is lower by default, the people creating them seem to have more freedom of expression. I think that’s why things like anime and Adult Swim have managed such a booming following. People are tired of failed attempts at wit and meaning and have slumped into the staticy arms of the cartoon industry.
Having abandoned the primary aspiration of societal significance, content creators have managed to attain the very thing they have dodged by focusing on the vapidness of simply creating what they feel like. The amused masses coming pouring in as a side of effect.
Some of the most consequential and successful people seem to have the same general answer to that thirsty, desperate question:
“How did you do it?’
“Well…I just did what I love most in the world and believed in the value of that love enough to dedicate myself wholly to it. The idea that others might love that I love it never really occurred to me. But, hey, what do you know? Apparently they do, and that appreciation has assisted me in continuing to do what I love. So I thank them for that.”
Have you ever noticed how celebrities, whether they be international pop sensations or adored small town graphic novel artists, always go out of their way to thank the fan and how it’s all thanks to little ol’ you?
Do you really think they had you in mind when first creating their work?
Do you think that your amusement was at the pinnacle of their concern when they produced whatever service they were producing?
No, I think you are all much smarter than that, but sometimes just choose not to be.
You know that you are not truly the center of their universe.
They are simply acknowledging the fact that you are acknowledging them in the field of their choice. They are simply appreciating that your appreciation allows them to recklessly do what they are best at.
I wonder what kind of place the world would be if we all produced with such creative abandon instead of producing with the masses in mind.