Are You Sure These Cartoons are for Children?
I had a very interesting childhood. My mother used to read me all kinds of odd stories, by that I mean that she used to read me the original Brothers Grimm stories. She also let me watch some pretty interesting movies. While I wasn’t too fond of cartoons, there were some that were sort of dark and more mature movies that were aimed at children. Going back and watching these shows as an adult makes me question why some of these shows were targeted at children. These ten stood out to me the most as somewhat questionable in some of their content. For this list, I am limiting it to movies that are mostly animated. Sorry The Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal, as dark and disturbing as you are, since you aren’t animated you don’t make the list. Maybe some other time.
Number 10: The Brave Little Toaster
It would seem strange to have this cute kids movie about appliances on this list, a couple of things stand out to me as being slightly disturbing. The first thing that stands out to me is the scene with the air conditioner. I mean that air conditioner scared me when I was a child. I wanted to unplug every appliance after watching this show. There is also that horrible song at the end that is called “Worthless”. The magnet is a bit freaky, yes, but it is how depressing this song actually is that makes me question why that is even in a movie for children. An earlier song called “It’s a B-Movie” that makes so many horror movies that it isn’t even funny. Then the main characters apart from Kirby gets thrown into an oven with the door closed. While it isn’t horribly frightening, there are just a few instances that are bit unsettling for me to think it should be aimed at young children.
Number 9: Rock-a-Doodle
This one I debated on putting it as Number 10. However, because of the stories that it is based on, this makes number on the list. The basis of the story is that Chanticleer the rooster thinks his crowing makes the sun rise. He runs away to the city to sing. A couple of the other farm animals with Edmund, who has been turned into a cat. If you’ve never seen this movie it doesn’t seem that bad from what I just described. However, the Grand Duke of Owls is the villain that changes Edmund from a farm boy’s son to a cat. He is evil and the scenes with him in it are dark and sort of scary for children. The characters come from the stories about Reynard the Fox. The movie is based on the play Chanticleer by Edmond Rostand. While not entirely dark, the stories that it is based on have a tendency to be dark and depressing which is why I put it here on the list.
Number 8: The Secret of NIMH
This movie is awful on so many levels. First off, the name is this movie, and the children’s book it’s based on, has the acronym NIMH in it. If you don’t know what NIMH is, it stands for National Institute of Mental Health. That should give away a big part of the plot, however, since this stories has been out since the 1970’s, I’m not marking the spoilers. If you haven’t seen it or read it by now you’re out of luck. The rats that in the show, they are lab rats. While the Great Owl isn’t evil, the imagery around him and Nicodemus is incredibly dark. It isn’t that this movie is frightening that makes me sort of cringe and wonder why it was made for children in the first place. The thing that gets me is that the whole thing revolves around NIMH and the testing that is being done on these rats in the film. Part of me thinks that Jeremy the crow is only there to lighten the mood of the film. Honestly, as a child I didn’t really understand the darkness of this film. I don’t think that any of children will get the darkness of this film. I just loved that there were animals in it. Overall, it is a good movie, but can really only be wholly enjoyed by someone that is an adult.
Number 7: The Ren and Stimpy Show
Children wouldn’t understand half of what is going on in this show. The humour is questionable at best. I mean, they have a spin-off aimed at adults that is pretty much the same show. It has pretty much the same form of humour that Beavis and Butt-head have. How this even made it onto a children’s network is beyond me. There was heavy censoring done to this show. It is amusing, I’ll give it that much. Just not for children. Looking back on it, some of the it is sort of gross. Why my parents let me watch this show growing up is a mystery to me because I wouldn’t let children watch it. Oh well, I guess some people are just weird like that.
Number 6: Fantasia
Let me clarify on this, most of this movie I don’t take issue with. It is a couple of the pieces that make my skin crawl. The piece The Rite of Spring isn’t necessarily bad, a bit graphic, but I who expects semi-realistic dinosaurs to be innocent enough that carnivorous ones won’t try to eat a herbivore? That particular piece has always weirded me out a bit. It is the Night on Bald Mountain that I couldn’t watch. That just flat out terrified me. I still cannot watch it without getting freaked out. I had to have my parents fast forward through that part. Growing up in Oklahoma surrounded by all the Indian culture and raised in the superstitious household that I was, I knew what the Chernobog was. I knew that it was an evil demon and it scared the ever-living daylights out of me because it is basically the Devil. I still can’t watch that section at night or play that part of the Kingdom Hearts games with him in it at night. Dang it Disney! Way to ruin classical music for me.
Number 5: The Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons
There are so many of these cartoons that it’s ridiculous. These two are some of the most recognizable and well-loved characters of animation history. So, why are they so high on the list? Well, my reason is this: the Road Runner is a jerk. That isn’t to say that Wile E. Coyote is completely off the hook. He is listed as the antagonist, but who is the one that gets almost killed in every episode? Yeah, the Road Runner literally tries to kill him. Were it not for the wonder of “cartoon laws of physics” Wile E. Coyote would be dead. He would have been dead in the first cartoon. You can’t survive a fall from a cliff. You won’t survive a bomb to face. You won’t just knock out teeth from running into wall in a car. You would die. Why are cartoon characters such jerks to each other? Also, roadrunners are a lot smaller than coyotes in real life. Not at all to scale.
Number 4: The Last Unicorn
This is quite possibly one of my favorite movies from my childhood in terms of cartoons. I also love the book. The animation is beautiful, the story can be enjoyed by adults and children alike, the music is pretty, the characters are complex, there is adventure and magic, and let’s not forget the nudity and black magic! Yeah, nudity and black magic in a children’s movie. I’m not joking about this. There is nudity in this cartoon. The harpy has full frontal nudity going on with it. Also, when the Unicorn becomes Lady Amalthea she is nude. Covered to keep her modesty, I mean you have to keep the literal symbol of innocence pure, but nude none the less. That black magic I was talking about concerns Mommy Fortuna. She gets killed by the harpy. There is also this weird scene where Schmendrick accidently animates a tree and that tree is a large breasted woman-tree-thing…Not quite sure what to say about that. You also have the creepy drunk skeletal guard called Skull that lays above the doorway to where the Red Bull is. Don’t drink kiddos. It does weird things to you. It also makes your eyes glow red and gives you a horrible “kiss my ***” attitude. This movies isn’t that bad, but when you stop to think that the whole Red Bull trying to kill the Unicorn is a metaphor for losing one’s virginity it gets a bit complicated on how to explain that to children…I’m just gonna stop there on this one. You’ll have to go read the movie review if you want more.
Number 3: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
This film has always worried me and in truth it isn’t that bad when compared to the original Brothers Grimm stories. That didn’t stop me as a child wondering why they heck the story was changed. My main worry with this film is that you have a teenage girl living in the woods with seven adult men. Why does this not bother anyone else‽ Also, in the original version of the story, true love’s first kiss isn’t the kiss of the prince. It’s the kiss of the first born son. What in the world was the prince doing while Snow White slept? The Magic Mirror is just downright scary for animation of its time. Now, when I was a child I was taught not to accept anything from strangers and to not open the door to people I didn’t know unless other people were home with me. Hmm…Who taught Snow White common sense because she obviously doesn’t have any and nobody taught her to not be an idiot. Oh yeah, let me bring this strange old lady into the house who just so happens to have apples in the middle of the forest and then I’ll eat said apple. Seriously? Who does that? Idiots, that’s who. Fun fact, in the original version of the story, the wicked queen is eventually punished by being made to wear hot iron shoes and dance around until she falls over dead at Snow White’s wedding. At least in the Disney version she just falls from a cliff.
Number 2: The Black Cauldron
The Disney Animation Company seriously needs to take a chill pill and learn how to actually animate things for children. A lot of their movies have a lot of questionable material in them. This one just takes the cake though in terms of Disney films. I have read the entire Chronicles of Prydain that Lloyd Alexander wrote. This story is the second in the series. It was awesome. Then I watched the movie. I was slightly horrified and, not gonna lie, it actually game me nightmares. Welsh mythology is kinda odd to begin with and this is full of it. The Horned King, which never bothered me when I read the books, really scared me in the film. This guy has glowing red eyes and is the literal incarnation of evil. Well, that is actually the Black Cauldron itself, but if you are talking about a being that walks around and talks then the Horned King is it. On top of it you have the Cauldron Born army of undead. That part of the film is just down right frightening. Gurgi also sacrifices himself and that is a bit difficult to for children to understand. Of course, he is then brought back to life. So, I’ll cut them some slack there. This film was also edited for being too graphic for children. Yep. It was edited for being too graphic. Good job Disney. This film is actually one of the lesser known Disney films. That being said though, the animation is amazing for its time.
Number 1: Watership Down
Ugg…where do I start with this movie. This was based on a novel of the same name. When you see the movie poster or the front of the movie case it has cute bunnies on it. That is where the cuteness ends. While the whole concept of the movie and the novel are interesting, the book wasn’t for children. It was for young adults. This has so many references to religion and mythologies that most kids won’t get and issues with gender roles it isn’t even funny. Even that doesn’t bother me though. It was the gore in it. There is an superfluous amount of blood in this for a children’s movie. Who, in all honestly, wants their children to watch a dog rip a rabbit to death on the telly with all that blood that it shows. Do not let your children watch this movie. Don’t watch it if you are squeamish at the sight of blood. You know what, just don’t watch it. The book is one thing, but this movie and the animated series that was made later, shouldn’t have made.
A good number of these movies and shows I had to watch for a class in college. It made me really question how they decided how to market films. Why they do this is beyond me. Part of me wonders if they think that if they animate it then children will watch it and it will be great and fantastic. Just because it is animated, doesn’t make it a children’s film or show. Perhaps if people paid attention to what was going on it wouldn’t be an issue. However, keep in mind, the Brothers Grimm wrote horrific stories and people read them to children whether they are toned down for children or not. In the end I think that ‘if a child wouldn’t understand what is going on in a show, what is the problem?’ seems to be the mentality of the world today. That shouldn’t be the case though. It might seem harmless at the time, but you can’t tell me that some things that children see on the telly or at the cinema isn’t going to stick with a child in the back of their head and affect them later in life. Thanks to some of these films, I’m looking at you Fantasia and The Black Cauldron, I can’t watch other films at night and I’m an adult. Come to think of it, Disney has made a lot of really disturbing and questionable films for children. Disney films have always struck me as odd and some of the more recent ones almost made it onto the list. I’m looking at you The Princess and the Frog. That Voodoo stuff isn’t particularly my idea of something that should be in a children’s film. Oh well, it almost made the list.