Monday, 19 October 2009

More Quality Less Quantity

I was an old school kid. We used to play hop scotch, made mud cakes, rode around on our BMX bikes and played old school Mario Bros on Nintendo. Those were the good old days when life was more about quality and spending your time being an actual kid. These days, everything is about quantity and kids are more like adults who don’t want to play unless it’s on a Playstation. I can’t pin point exactly when things became this way.

I was watching one of the older cartoons on television the other day, I can’t remember the name but I noticed how cartoons have changed over time. They used to be light hearted and innocent entertainment. Think back to old school Mickey Mouse and similar stuff. When I watch them today, they’re corny and tacky…back then life was about saving the world. I watch new age cartoons, filled with derision, sarcasm and adult humour and I wonder, do kids actually get this? I know an 8 year old Azra wouldn’t have understood. This tiny little change is indicative of how cynical the world has become. TV shows and cartoons are filled with sarcastic innuendos, disguised in a blanket of sardonic humour.

There are trace elements of this cynicism in Raphael’s character in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fast forward a decade and cartoons like Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, and Freakazoid were drenched in sarcastic humour. Not that I complained, they were my favourites, very entertaining and something I looked forward to when I came home after one of my horrendous days in high school. But still, I didn’t think it was meant for little itty bitty kids.

This change is not restricted to cartoons, and is also evident in television programs. These days Lassie would be viewed as the mother of all corny tv shows. And how many times have you watched a show or a movie a good decade since the last time you saw it and thought OMW, why did I like this again? Its happened to me with movies like Salsa and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

This theme of quantity trumping quality is evident in other areas of our lives too. Take men and women for example. I can’t describe the number of guys I know who want wives that resemble Barbie. And it doesn’t matter that she’s got no conversation skills, no personality, no humanity etc. And what about those women who only seek out wealthy men straight out of GQ? If he doesn’t have the cash or the looks then he’s worthless.

I’ve come to see contemporary men and women like contemporary cars. You know, back in the day, cars were sturdy, solid and reliable. You could climb on them and sit on the bonnet and nothing would happen, not even a dent. These days, every little gesture is sure to create more than a few dents. Back in the day, old school cars would come out of minor accidents with glorified scratches. Even the slightest bump will render a new school car completely useless.

To examine the full extent to which we've exchanged quality for quantity and the consequences thereof will take ages because of its almost limitless scope. We can delve into matters that include the global crises of incompetent parenting, resulting in some the worst generations this world has ever seen, to the genetically modified food we consume on a daily basis. But at the core, I think what we’ve failed to realise is that it’s better to have a little of a good thing then to have a whole lot of shit.


  1. i do feel that the level of entertainment has become faster and wittier. i mean i recently watched the Airwolf series and it could not hold me attention. it is far too lame seen through my adult eyes.

    and i am sure kids of today actually understand the shows/cartoons they watch. we were part of the pink puffy clods generation, oozing sweetness and corniness. :)

  2. I introduced my nephews to the old school cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny.
    I banned them from Cartoon Network.
    Unfortunately, when they started school that changed. They're now under the influence of other kids.
    Now it's all about Ben 10 and other violent and weird shows.

    I blame it all on Cow and Chicken.
    Since then cartoons have dropped in quality.


    This new generation scares me.
    I'm terrified of the generation after that.

  3. I loved Pinky and the Brain...but i watched that when i was a teenager. It wasn't around when i was at the official cartoon age. To me, it was more a grown-up cartoon.

    On the point of quantity, i remember way back - before DSTV - when i heard about places where they had over a hundred TV channels; and it was like "Wowwwww!". And now I see that, with so much quantity, not much is actually useful or beneficial.

    Perhaps the whole decline you speak of is related to the idiocy of materialism and consumerism. That must play a huge role in why things are where they are nowadays.

  4. Look at us all oldies reminiscing about Tom & Jerry and good ol' video games

  5. this might explain why old school cartoon wont hold todays kids attention sorry its hamza yusuf again but he talks alot about these kind of things and bringing up children. As far as possible I do not allow my child to watch TV especially if he is bored. I try to let him do things, colour in , paint explore. I know and it does worry me that when he starts school he will be exposed to various influences.

  6. Prixie - I definitely think its become wittier, more adult-like. Perhaps its because kids today are more like adults? I miss the cheesiness of our generation ;)

    Fatima & fatima - Thats the problem. No matter what parents do, there will always be that influence from peers at school.

    However, I've seen that when parents bring up confident children, children with a strong sense of self, they become leaders and don't succumb to peer pressure at any age.

    dreamlife - Consumerism plays a big role. So we can blame Capitalism :) I LOVED Animaniacs. And Tiny Toons. Animaniacs more though. But like you, I was already a teen when I used to watch them. Its still one of my favourite cartoons to date.

    Tazeen - There is something in the simplicity of old school that is so appealing..reminding me of a less complicated and aggressive time ;)

  7. What about adults today do not want to grow up?

  8. do you guys remember Ren & Stimpy?

  9. fathima - yeah that seems to be an epidemic too :P

    Mash - I remember Ren and Stimpy although I watched a few episodes in Jordan. I dont think it ever played on SA screens. I could be mistaken though.

  10. it's strange but I've actually written a very similar themed post but it's still in draft at the moment. slightly different perspective but same idea