It strikes me as a simpleton mind-set when someone insists if you show a cartoon character with a gun, then kids will grow up shooting people. The people that say such things are, of course, those who saw cartoon characters with guns when they were kids. Maybe they even had their parents buy a toy one (as seen on TV) when they were a child. And they grew up just fine in spite of it. Well, except for their ridiculous grasp of deductive logic.
That’s the basic message contained in this story in the Hutchinson News of Saturday, July 2, 1960. It’s unbylined, but a chap named E. Lawson May was the paper’s TV Editor.
The early Hanna-Barbera cartoons only come in for a mention at the end of the article. But because the writer is full of common sense (and declares Huck and Quick Draw as being more than suitable for children’s eyes and minds), it’s worth printing 52 years later.
Capt. Kangaroo Helps Care for Youngsters
Educators, psychiatrists and do-gooders have been shouting louder than usual for the past year about how the younger generation is being breast fed by TV rather than books.
The optimists among us, however, are aware that the learned gentlemen assembling all these frightening statistics received their own primary education over the radio perils of Buck Rogers, Tom Mix, Flash Gordon, Omar the Mystic and well-informed criticism from another generation of analysts.
The simple truth is that TV, properly used by a parent, can offer child some delightful entertainment.
If the set’s prime function, however, is to get the youngster out of the way, the parents never should have had children in the first place. A preschool child would never be sent out on a busy city street alone, and there’s no reason why they should be expected to function in the channel-jungle without guidance.
Thanks to an easy-going, heavy-set young man named Bob Keeshan, the young mother’s first experience with television is generally quite encouraging. Keeshan, along with his friends Mr. Green Jeans, and Mr. Moose, conducts the “Captain Kangaroo” show via CBS six mornings a week.
At one time the network gave up on “Captain Kangaroo,” but a storm of protest, plus the fact that the show was outdrawing Garry Moore’s expensive morning variety show, bought Keeshan a new lease on life. Today the Captain is SRO with sponsors and mother knows she has at least 45 minutes every morning when the little one is in good hands.
“Be Good To Mother”
Bob Keeshan is not a great educator or a child psychologist, but he understands his audience. He appreciates their short attention span and never keeps any game, song or cartoon running too long. At no time does the Captain talk down to his little viewers or does he patronize them. He stimulates their imagination without frightening them, and good taste guides his every move. He closes each show by reminding the kids that “it’s another be-good-to-mother day,” and nobody is “gooder” to mom than captain Kangaroo.
Once the Captain closes up his weekday Treasure House, the television industry chooses to ignore children until around five o’clock. This is a sad mistake, because mother needs more than 45 minutes to finish her chores.
No Steady Diet
From 5 to 7:30 in the evening and on Saturday morning TV caters to kids. Some of the successful shows are little more than old movie shorts which were condemned as harmful to children a generation ago. Among these are “Our Gang,” “The Three Stooges” and
“Popeye.” Actually they are as harmful as they ever were, but kids adore this type of comic violence and, provided they’re not permitted to watch it as a steady diet, it’s a good bet they’ll survive.
But TV has developed its own cartoon empire and can point to the product with pride. Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera, who created “Tom and Jerry,” have come up with three of the most delightful and entertaining cartoon shows imaginable. They are such superb shows that the parents can laugh hysterically al the antics of the characters while the little ones are spellbound by the adventure.
Many a big city office is deserted early so pop can run home and enjoy “Ruff and Reddy,” “Huckleberry Hound,” and “Quick Draw McGraw” with his kids.
Perhaps “Huckleberry Hound” and his associates are the answer to many of TV’s critics. Because they are fun the parents are able to share them with the kids, and the shows are mature and intelligent, thus easing parental consciences.
Unfortunately, do-gooders today would complain about Quick Draw. He’s got a gun and shoots himself. Think of the kids imitating, blabbety, blah, blah. As it was, do-gooders manipulating studies and data managed to do a pretty good job of emasculating cartoons on Saturday mornings by about 1970. They guilt-tripped (if not pressured) networks and sponsors into filling the screens with cartoons with unsubtle (and therefore unentertaining) messages of doing good which, as we all know, ended racism, pollution, and violence forever because kids imitate everything they see on cartoons.