The 80’s cartoon is yet another reminder of the epitome of commercialism, conjured role models and outrageous sense of style. OK, maybe the style is arguable. It’s still not surprising that yet another Facebook imperative focuses on childhood cartoons. In honor of another worthy cause, Facebook users ask each other to change avatars. This time it’s favorite cartoons to support child abuse awareness. The message I received says childhood favorites, but most Facebook users seem to look to the 80’s cartoons for their latest avatar. Here’s a group to spark some 80’s cartoon nostalgia.
This one borrows from Gatchaman, an old Japanese team show. Like Gatchaman, Voltron featured five young people striving to save the planet. This planet wasn’t Earth, but the images remain very similar. The 80’s music failed to hide the similarities between the multi-piece Gatchaman Godphoenix and Voltron, the robotic superhero formed when all five robotic cats came together. It’s amazing how the princess in this 80’s cartoon (note the nickname is the same as that of the girl in Battle of the Planets, another Gatchaman knockoff), manages to remain at once helpless and potent behind the controls of a giant mechanized cat. No wonder we’re all so confused…
According to Wikipedia, the Smurfs originated in Belgium as a 1950’s cartoon strip. Americans remember the Smurfs of 80’s cartoons as odd blue creatures with a very limited vocabulary. They ran from the evil Gargamel and his wicked cat, Azrael, both of whom seemed intent on eating the Smurfs. Gruesome!
What would the 80’s have been like without the Thundercats? Humanoid – feline hybrids with incredible powers, this 80’s cartoon also took place off planet. Even today, fan fiction centering around the Thundercats abounds. According to MTV, we can expect to see an updated version of this 80’s TV show soon.
Who can forget He-Man, who had the power to toss his mighty – boulders. One wonders about the underlying message there. Still, who can forget the off planet – again – adventures of the blonde hulk, so reminiscent of Hercules stories, and his green fraidy cat companion. Not just an 80’s cartoon phenomenon apparently, because to this day he’s even got his own Web site.
80’s cartoon watching girls needed a heroic role model as much as the boys, and She – Ra may have fit the bill for some. Being a character written to please the ideals of young girls, she rode a horse that morphed into a Pegasus. A Pegasus with a horn. Ok, so maybe the mythology was a bit confusing, but we can’t say they didn’t try.
Go go Gadget … lunchbox? Ok, it worked for Matthew Broderick. This 80’s cartoon was popular enough to warrant a live action movie. It did so-so at the box office and was panned by movie critics. Maybe if David Kellogg had maintained the easy going, fun nature of the original carton – but I digress.
A lesser known, but still fun 80’s cartoon, The Littles were tiny people who lived in the walls. That’s kind of a creepy concept, but it left plenty of room for cute recycling jokes. Maybe they weren’t intended as recycling jokes, but what else can you call it when bottle caps, tooth picks and match boxes find such interesting uses?
No one, absolutely no one I speak with remembers this 80’s cartoon. It did have a short run. It featured a group of kids who’d formed their own garage band – when does that ever go out of style? – who are sucked into an alternate universe, where music videos play a large part in the Yellow Submarine-type world
Looking over this list, there’s one thing that jumps out. Most of the better known cartoons featured settings off Earth, or portrayed Earth characters that were, at best, quite strange. It could be just my crazy tastes as a kid, or maybe, just maybe, it’s a commentary on the 80’s mindset.
Just think of Rainbow Bright.