I missed the Shockers game for this.

9:30 PM

First of all, I apologize for the long absence.  Needless to say, my life, as well as Joey's, has been extremely busy and it has been hard keeping up with my hobbies.  Joey has been using my computer to write his script, so we've been dividing time between the computer and his time takes priority at the moment.  He's done a beautiful job and I can't wait to see the finished product.  
This is a post that I began randomly and it turned into more of a paper, rather than a post.  So, random, I know, but apparently I had an itch to scratch as far as these movies are concerned.  It never hurts to write though, right?

Old cartoons.  There is such a sense of nostalgia, a strange sense of comfort, happiness, or sadness and bittersweetness, knowing what's behind us and re-visiting "the familiar".  When a bad day rolls along, or I find myself simply feeling blase, I know that I can always resort to my collection of old cartoons from my childhood that seem to bring me back to my original, most primitive self, and help me to re-align my mood.  Looking back, these animations were so extremely important to me, as they played a significant hand in guiding me into the life that I now lead, as well as into the person I have become.

Now, don't get me wrong, there are obviously many other factors that play into the development of a human personality, environment, society, family life, etc.  However, looking back on those specific animations that I so loved and still do to this day, as I'm sure many people would agree with, I have begun to notice a specific trend in the selection of animated movies and cartoons that I was shown and then personally chose to repeat watching over and over again due to their exceptionally relative and significant content.

For instance, Don Bluth films (Land Before Time, Secret of Nimh, American Tail, All Dogs Go to Heaven), in my opinion, are significantly darker and more insightful into human emotions than most Disney films.  However, I do NOT want to dismiss some of what I consider to be the greater Disney films, when talking about "darker" animations.  My favorite Disney films which I re-visit to this day and will for the rest of my life, I'm sure, are extremely emotionally charged. Dumbo, The Fox and the Hound, and the newer animations Tarzan and Lilo and Stitch are four Disney movies that I, and I would venture to say that most people, respond to emotionally, more so than most other Disney movies, through their themes of family and friendships and the explorations of what those relationships are and what they mean.  In my opinion, these specific Disney films as well as the Don Bluth films mentioned previously, and I might be excluding a few movies so forgive me if I have, are greater, due to the remarks on society and the walls that are built around what's normal vs. what's taboo.  E.G. the relationships represented in both Land Before Time (Little-foot and his circle of friends consisting of a variety of species of dinosaurs), The Fox and the Hound (Tod and his friend Copper, a fox and a hound), and the rest of the aforementioned animations, are all that suggest a well-functioning, healthy, and supportive relationship between inter-racial and/or inter-cultural relationships, whether in a family environment, or in a friendship.  These movies represent a message of tolerance as well as the importance of the relationships within families and friendships, no matter how they are built.  The point is that these relationships are necessary and important!

Little-Foot, after losing his mother in a tragic scene in the Land Before Time, would most likely not survive if he had not formed such a bond with his other dinosaur friends (Cera, Ducky, Petrie, and Spike).  This friendship/team, who would otherwise exist as possible enemies, or, in the least, strangers, persists in a long journey that could not, perhaps, been taken, without the support, guidance, and individual talents and personalities that each character brings to the table.  The same goes for Dumbo, with the replacement of Timothy Q. Mouse as his protector, when his mother is taken from him as a young child while simply fulfilling the role of mother and protecting her child.  Similarly, Tod in The Fox and the Hound, is taken in by not one, but two mother figures, Big Mama, the owl, and the Widow Tweed (the parting montage shared between Tod and the Widow Tweed tears my heart out every time I see it).  These extraordinarily significant roles in a person's life play a huge part in the foundation of our personalities, and these issues are not something, one would assume, that are typically approached as children's animations, making them that much more meaningful in their content.

Children are often darker-minded than we think.  Their imaginations may act equally as a doorway into an innocent and whimsical play world as well as a much darker and more insightful play world paralleling reality, but with more exaggerated features.  The boogie man is the unpredictable world we live in and our fears that controls us, personified.  According to this article from Iowa State University, "Several factors contribute to a child developing fears by age 2.  Children beween the ages of 2 and 5 have experienced real fear or pain from being lost, injured, or bitten.  They also have vivid imaginations and struggle with the idea of cause and effect.  A toddler knows something about size and shape, but not enough to be sure that he or she won't be sucked down into the bathtub drain or into a flushing toilet.  Older children also are aware of dangers that they hear about or see on TV.  It's hard to know what is real and what is not".  I'm often reminded of this reaction to unpleasant experiences in life when my students approach me with fears and or tragedies of life.  Often, I see hints of this in their art and will sometimes approach them about it and, more often than not, they really want to talk to someone about these issues.

These issues, when approached through the familiar and comforting form of children's animation helps children to grasp them in a more secure and confident way, not only by accompanying them through these dark moments, but also encouraging them to face life with more confidence, knowing that they're not the only one's who have dealt with fears, tragedy, and other life obstacles.  I believe that the wide range of tragedy transformed into hope and new love, bravery against the unpredictable and unknown, the importance of friendships when you feel most alone, and the imagination within these movies serve to build a child's abstract thought and understanding.  This is why, although, perhaps it's a silly point to make, I find these darker animations to be severely relevant and important.  I'm not saying that children should be exposed to scary cartoons, in fact, I've really just orbited around cartoons appropriate for elementary aged children, and I do believe that it would be unwise to unleash an emotion that has not yet been learned or exposed to by a young child, however, shielding these issues when they've already been introduced into a child's life, could be discouraging to their mental and emotional growth.

So, to round back to my original starting place.  Although I'm a sucker for almost any cartoon and enjoy them immensely as a mode of transportation to relaxation and a trip back to childhood, I believe that the animations featuring the heavier content is essential for the mental and emotional growth and support of a child.  To the deeper and more emotionally charged movies that Disney put out, "Well done!"  And, of course, a high-5 Don Bluth, I think you're the man.

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