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The Hollywood Insider Beauty of Old Cartoons Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse

Animation has always been a method of storytelling loved by many. It’s something new and different and looks unlike anything else you could see in the real world. This form has come a long way in the last hundred or so years. It was only 96 years ago that ‘Steamboat Willie’ came out and popularized sound cartoons, and look how far we’ve come since. Now, a lot of animation is computer generated, and with some of the technology that companies like Pixar use, it’s getting harder to distinguish animation from real life. So with that, I’d like to take a bit of a step back in time and focus on the cartoons from way back when.

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There’s something about these old cartoons that people just love to watch. I mean, why else would they still run them on TV, decades after they’ve already aired? Why do people still enjoy watching shows like ‘Tom and Jerry’ or The Jetsons’ all these years later when newer, more up-to-date shows exist now? As someone who grew up watching old cartoons and still does to this day, there’s so much to like about them.

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Simple Storytelling

One of the draws of these classic cartoons is their simplicity. Whether it’s Mickey Mouse trying to win back Minnie or Wile E. Coyote trying to catch the Roadrunner, the plots of these animated stories are always short and sweet. It allows anyone of any age to feel comfortable watching them. We don’t need a fleshed-out backstory as to why Elmer Fudd wants to hunt down Bugs Bunny so badly; all we need to know is that Elmer wants to kill Bugs and Bugs is too smart for him. A lot of these stories are short too, meaning they’re only about seven or eight minutes long. And as for the longer shows like ‘Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!’ or ‘Johnny Quest,’ their runtime is roughly 20 to 25 minutes, which isn’t too long for television. Because they’re short, these cartoons become easily digestible and instantly rewatchable. 

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Another great reason, they’re cartoons! These aren’t real people. In an animated world, pain is meaningless. All pain is temporary and a gunshot or a punch in the face can be shaken off in a matter of seconds. We can watch Tom the cat take a baseball bat to the head and know that he’s going to be okay in the end. That’s what makes these shows so great. Everything is animated, fun and colorful, with no worry of pain or real-world problems. Just talking animals and slapstick humor. It’s escapism, as most media is, and it’s really fun to watch.

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A Piece of History

Now, believe me, I love the shows I grew up on. But the cartoons from way back in the mid-20th century are just different. It’s like watching a part of history. I’ve always been interested in watching them as they reflect on the period it came out, and besides a few exceptions, it’s a fascinating peek behind the historical curtain. You get to see how far animators have come since the days of black and white cartoons, or when everything had to be hand-drawn on cells. Enjoy watching the original ‘Felix the Cat’ cartoons from the 1920s? Those were before most cartoons had sound! Or the aforementioned introduction to Mickey Mouse, ‘Steamboat Willie’? That was the first popular sound cartoon! Watching classic cartoons feels like you’re watching something old, something antique that has a novelty to it.

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Maybe it’s just me, but watching cartoons or television shows from a different period makes me feel a sense of wonder like I’m stepping into a museum. It’s always fascinating to think that these cartoons were considered cutting-edge back in the day. All that, with humor that still makes people laugh all of these years later, the classic cartoons of the 20th century transcend time and are still effective at comedy.

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The Power of Nostalgia

The real reason, however, why we still watch these decades-old cartoons from the past is because of one thing: nostalgia. Whether you’re a part of the boomer generation and grew up watching them as they came out or you’re a part of Gen Z and watched the reruns late at night, almost everybody knows these cartoons and a lot of people have an emotional attachment to them. It makes sense, after all, since some channels like Cartoon Network have shown them for years and still do so every night. There’s a channel specifically for Hanna-Barbera cartoons and the works of Chuck Jones, Boomerang. These classic shows can be found on DVDs or VCRs (if you still even have a player) or even on streaming platforms. They’re pretty much everywhere.

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And that’s a big part of what makes them so appealing. Everyone knows these cartoons, they’re widespread. I have many fond memories of being a kid and waking up early on sick days to watch old ‘Looney Tunes’ cartoons because I couldn’t sleep, or I remember going to my aunt’s house and spending the night watching reruns of ‘The Flintstones’ and ‘The Smurfs’ on TV. Those are the kind of memories that make me look back at these old shows and feel good. It’s a sense of comfort. 

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And I know people everywhere have this sense of nostalgia for these cartoons. Watching them now harkens back to a time when things were good, everything felt simpler. You might remember watching the silly, slapstick fun of ‘Looney Tunes’ and ‘Tom and Jerry’ when you were younger, or maybe you’re a Disney superfan and love to watch the old cartoons with Mickey, Goofy, Donald Duck, and friends. Maybe you’re a fan of mystery and love to watch Scooby-Doo and the gang solve mysteries, or you just like some good ol’ adventure and like Popeye fighting for Olive Oyl in ‘Popeye the Sailor.’ Regardless of whatever cartoon you like, watching them brings back a sense of pleasure and joy. They’re simple, good-hearted fun and what’s wrong with having a little bit of that in our lives?

By Ben Ross

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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