Viewpoint — What you can learn from cartoons

We all grew up with heuristic Saturday-morning cartoons that took little or no effort to enjoy. We used to watch Bugs Bunny run/hop around saying things like “Eh, what’s up, doc?” We used to watch little talking babies play in a sandbox in Rugrats. We also viewed classics like Doug, Hey Arnold!, Arthur and Scooby-Doo.

Those shows are no longer mainstream television, which is extremely unfortunate. Today we have shows like Spongebob Squarepants and Phineas and Ferb. It does not matter what cartoon it is; cartoons can teach us valuable life lessons.

Let’s focus more on Phineas and Ferb right now. For those of you who don’t know, Phineas and Ferb is a show about two brothers on summer vacation. They use their imagination and come up with something new, different and exciting adventures every day. They have a pet platypus who always disappears to go fight an evil villain with all his evil devices. Their older sister Candace is always trying to get the boys in trouble and is always obsessing over her dream boy, Jeremy.

Phineas and Ferb, on initial viewing, will be seen as slightly annoying and pointless. It might take some getting used to. It might be viewed as a child’s show, and many people might not give it a second thought. Those people are correct. It is a child’s show. But because it is a children’s show, it is trying to instill important values in children at young ages so they can take those values with them for the rest of their lives.

Phineas and Ferb needs to be watched by adults so it can continually remind us to keep our imaginative thoughts flowing and remind us to believe anything is possible.

There is one episode where Candace (Phineas and Ferb’s sister) changes how she acts, speaks and dresses to impress Jeremy (the love of her life) because of one simple comment he made. Then, when Jeremy realizes what she has done, he points out to her that he liked her exactly the way she was before the changes were made. What can we learn from this? Obviously, it’s that we need to be ourselves and not conform to impress other people.

Scooby-Doo taught us that things are not always as they seem. The characters came across a different mystery everywhere they went. The culprit in each mystery always seemed to be the least-expected suspect (why the gang never caught on to that is a mystery). But still, the gang also taught us to never give up until we’ve found the correct answer.

The show Rugrats featured a little kid named Chucky. He had crazy red hair. This little dude was terrified of everything. He had hundreds of irrational fears and hundreds more rational fears. Every once in a while there would be an episode where Chucky’s friends would help him overcome his fears. From this we should learn to take chances and not be afraid something is going to wrong. Fears are a part of life, but they are no excuse for holding ourselves back.

The show Arthur featured an aardvark and other talking animals in elementary school. They did a musical episode before musicals were back in the mainstream media. In this episode they sing about homework, Jekyll and Hyde (don’t even pretend you don’t know the song — apologies for getting it stuck in your head), and library cards. “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card,” the cast sang. This teaches us that reading books is fun. Reading should be done by all youngsters because it’s fun and makes you smarter.

The point is that cartoons, new or old, teach us valuable life lessons. Whether those lessons are blatantly obvious or you have to dig a little deeper to find the lessons, they are there. Don’t be ashamed if you watch cartoons as an adult; you are just reminding yourself of the lessons you learned when you were little.