|Twinkle Hope by dreamcicle19772006 on Flickr|
There has been a trend over the last few years of making new and updated versions of cartoons from the mid-nineties and before specifically for today's children. I don't really get this. I would guess that the theory is that the kids who watched these cartoons back in the day are now grown up and have kids of their own. These parents, upon seeing something from their own childhood will immediately warm to the newer versions and want to share them with their children. But this is actually not the reaction I get from these newer cartoons at all. Instead, I get mildly irritated (sometimes more than mildly, I'll admit) at the tremendous waste of time of this whole idea. As a parent who is actually watching most of the cartoons my daughter watches right along with her, I find these modern versions are usually a very poor substitute for the original thing. Often, they are rehashing original story lines with new animation and voice-acting, and I find that just lazy as well. I know in some cases it is honestly a matter of expanding the existing number of episodes, and both are being offered up to today's children, with new actors and animation a requirement because the originals are no longer available. But a lot of them, in my opinion, are just plain rip-offs, intended to cash in on parents' nostalgia and sell new toys without actually trying to produce a quality product. What these cartoons do is leave me disgusted with the new offering and hungry for the originals.
Take, for instance, My Little Pony.
I have been peripherally aware for some time that there has been an updated line of these toys available for some time now. The My Little Pony toys, television show, and movie were a firm fixture in my childhood in the eighties. I am not ashamed to admit I owned more than my fair share of the pretty ponies. I absolutely loved them, and do still harbor a soft spot in my heart for the memories of that part of my childhood.
That being said, however, I find the new line of toys just a little bit off. Something about them just doesn't sit right with me. They are too stylized. I know, I know, the original line was definitely stylized too. But these new ones are even worse. I think it's because they made them skinny and gave them ridiculously oversized eyes (even more so than on the originals).
When I was buying the first tube of trainer toothpaste for my daughter to use with her first real toothbrush (after she had enough teeth that the little finger mitt was definitely no longer an option, which meant no more buying the kit that came with the toothpaste included), I did end up going with the My Little Pony toothpaste, despite my issues with the new version of the franchise. Mostly this was because the other tube, with Thomas the Tank Engine, was either blueberry or bubble-gum flavored, as opposed to the Pinkie Fruity Flavor of the MLP tube. It just sounded better. It's not like my daughter is the one applying the toothpaste to the brush yet, so I wasn't too worried about it.
Last night, however, I gave in to a mild case of the Mondays and decided to pick up dinner from McDonald's rather than cook anything. I forgot to ask for the toy for ages three and under (okay, that's not entirely true, I may have forgotten on purpose, because McDonald's three and under toys are kind of crap, at least Chick-fil-A has board books for the little ones), so she got a My Little Pony toy. (I think it interesting to note here that as I was just typing "My Little Pony" I first typed "Phony." That is not the first time that happened in the course of researching and writing this entry--not even the second or third. Guess what that says about how I feel about the new line.)
Most of the time, I actually don't let my daughter have the toys out of her kid's meal. But when I do (always after a thorough inspection for small and/or hazardous bits), it isn't until after she's done eating. So during dinner last night I was looking at this toy, and reading the happy meal box trying to figure out her name and "personality" (her name is Pinkie Pie, she's fun loving and friendly, and has balloons on her butt, that's about it). I decided to go ahead and let her have it, and she played with it for a little while after dinner (I actually didn't hand it to her straightaway, but set it down with her other toys and she stumbled across it later) and then moved on to attempting to demolish my crochet project.
As I was giving Baby Girl her bath last night, though, and putting the toothpaste on her toothbrush, I looked at the tube and realized that the pony pictured on it is the same pony she got in her happy meal, balloons on the butt and all. Go figure.
The whole thing got me remembering my own childhood experiences with My Little Pony. Looking around online, I see that several straight to DVD movies have been made featuring the new ponies, but even if I do concede and let my daughter have more of those to play with down the road, I think we'll be sticking with the original cartoons, thank you very much. Amazon has the movie for only about thirteen bucks, so I think we'll be adding that to our collection pretty soon. They've also got the first season (which looks like the bulk of the series) of the television show on DVD as well. Might be a worthy investment. With a few exceptions, I have been pretty disappointed in what passes for cartoons these days, so I have been stockpiling some old school stuff (sadly, some of it well before my husband and I even started trying to have a child) for Baby Girl to watch. We've got the entire series of She-Ra and Powerpuff Girls, as well as a season and some random episode collections of Fraggle Rock, and a few other cartoons as well.
I'm gonna raise my kid right when it comes to cartoons. She'll watch the good stuff, and I'll be right there watching it with her. There won't be any of these crappy updated substitutions if I have anything to say about it. I mean, don't even get me started on what they've done to Strawberry Shortcake...