I usually turn on the tv first thing in the morning to check out the Weather Channel. But, since my lovely Comcast remote controller has issues right now, and needs to “warm up” or something before it allows me to change channels, I now just turn on the tv and walk away for a few minutes. I then sat down at my computer to check my emails…. And that’s when I heard it.
I heard whiney talking and when I looked up saw a few older teenagers with brightly colored faces as if they walked through a mist of chalky wonderment. They talked like they were pretending to be six or talking to an audience of deaf monkeys. (Sorry, can’t think of an animal right off the bat that “isn’t right in the head.”) I stood in front of the tv, holding the warmed up remote, ready to press the button to get the hell away from this madness, when I had a thought. All I could think of was if any one them had a college degree and if this is what they meant when they may have said, “One day I want to be on tv.” Well, pat yourself on the back; you have arrived….in lavender chalky body paint and a red Raggedy Andy moppy wig. Congrats!
Is this what Saturday morning programming has to offer the children of 2013? The Doodlebops? I remember enduring the pain of the purple dinosaur, Barney, and secretly hoped someone would push that annoying Baby Bop in front of a pretend bus. I know that is not nice, but seriously, where did Saturday morning cartoons go? Is it all because Mel Blanc is no longer around to voice these marvelous cartoon creations? Or does everything have to be “real?” Because, I’m telling you right now, these Doodlebops are goofy as hell.
When my kids were little, the cartoons I grew up with were replaced with Sesame Street, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chops Play Along, and my favorite of my children’s programming, Pee Wee’s Play House. Each one of these were geared to both the child and the parent who was held captive to watch them also. I did laugh at a lot of the things they were saying. But, then someone decided to add a purple dinosaur to the mix and everything went to hell in a handbasket.
Ok, now don’t get me wrong. There has been weird children’s programming all along….. H.R. Pufnstuf comes to mind. Anyone my age will remember Witchiepoo and “Oranges, Poranges, who said?” This demented children’s television show was the first ever live action tv show that debuted in 1969.
Of course, I was in 8th grade or so when this psychedelic show came out. I wasn’t an impressionable five year old. But, when I was impressionable, at least I had something that I took with me to adulthood. No, it wasn’t Wile E. Coyote or Bugs or even Elmer Fudd. It was Foghorn Leghorn.
Now this is what Saturday morning cartoons was all about. These cartoons were broadcast starting in 1945. Foghorn was a “good ole boy” with a southern accent and a penchant for one-upmanship. His target was usually the barnyard dog. I remember sitting in front of tv (despite warnings from my mom I was going to go cross-eyed if I continued to sit so close to the tv) and laughing at his antics. But, what I didn’t truly appreciate until I was older were his wonderfully wrong sayings. Here are a few of my favorites:
“This boy’s more mixed up than a feather in a whirlwind”
“Don’t, I say don’t bother me dog, can’t ya see I’m thinkin’
“That, I say that boy’s just like a tatoo, gets under your skin”
“Kid don’t quit talkin’ so much he’ll get his tongue sunburned”
“That’s a joke, I say that’s a joke son”
“Go, I say go away boy, you bother me”
“His muscles are as soggy as a used tea bag”
“That woman’s as cold as a nudist on an iceberg”
“That dog’s as subtle as a hand grenade in a barrrel of oat meal”
“Boy, you cover about as much as a flapper’s skirt in a high wind”
“Nice mannered kid, just a little on the dumb side”
“That kid’s about as sharp as a pound of wet liver”
“I made a funny son and you’re not laughin’
“That boy’s about as sharp as a bowling ball”
“Look sister is any of this filterin’ through that little blue bonnet of yours”
“I got, I say I got this boy as fidgety as a bubble dancer with a slow leak”
“Now who’s, I say who’s responsible for this unwarranted attack on my person!”
“This boy’s making more noise than a couple of skeletons throwin’ a fit on a tin roof”
“The snow, I say the snow’s so deep the farmers have to jack up the cows so they can milk’em”
“I keep pitchin’ ‘em and you keep missin’ ‘em”
“That boy’s as timid as a canary at a cat show”
“Nice girl, but about as sharp as a sack of wet mice”
“Nice boy but he’s got more nerve than a bum tooth”
“I say, boy, pay attention when I’m talkin’ to ya, boy”
“Pay attention, boy, I’m cuttin’ but you ain’t bleedin’!”
“Oh, that woman, got a mouth like an outboard motor”
“That boy’s as strong as an ox, and just about as smart”
“Stop, I say stop it boy, you’re doin’ alot of choppin’ but no chips are flyin’
“This is going to cause more confusion than a mouse in a burlesque show”
“You know there might, I say there just might be a market for bottled duck”
“Gal reminds me of a highway between Forth Worth and Dallas – no curves”
“Boy’s gotta mouth like a cannon, always shootin’ it off”
“Pay attention to me boy! I’m not just talkin’ to hear my head roar”
“That, I say that dog’s busier than a centipede at a toe countin’ contest”
“Now cut that out boy, or I’ll spank you where the feathers are thinnest”
The lessons I learned while watching Foghorn Leghorn was that there is a fine line between sarcasm, humor, and spite. Yes, I didn’t understand a lot of things he was saying when I was little, but I realized there is a way to say something when you don’t want to say it out right…like, “His elevator doesn’t go all the way up to the top floor.”
My whole point for this blog post is that Saturday morning cartoons are what got us up early in the morning. We never slept in. We didn’t have video games or an endless amount of channels to keep us occupied. We had the World Book Encyclopedia and three channels on our tv sets back then. Cartoons had an effect on us. We still remember Officer Dibble, Tooter the Turtle, Yogi and Boo Boo, Daffy, Sylvester, and the Tazmanian Devil. Perhaps today’s programmers don’t care because there are so many options for children besides television. I bet more kids sleep in on Saturdays in 2013 than they did in 1961 though.
In the end, our cartoon generation was much better than the Doodlebop generation.
Sure, the kids are learning letters, and songs, and how to be a good friend. But, we learned how to take Acme products and blow up a quick bird, how to insult other chickens in the hen house, and how to correctly make an introduction, “What’s up, doc?”
I really need to get my remote fixed.