Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Wimpy ( I mean witty) Generation

The other day I was having a conversation with a colleague whom I like because he’s funny and smart. He’s a get-it guy. But then he started telling me that the cartoon show SOUTH PARK is actually a relevant lens to our society and culture. I laughed. It’s official: I don’t understand adults who watch cartoons, whether it be SOUTH PARK, FAMILY GUY, ADULT SWIM, or Fox’s ANIMATION DOMINATION. Sorry, cartoon watching past the age of 18. Nah. To me it’s the same thing as grown men who play video games religiously. To me it’s another example of a generation that’s wimpy (I mean witty).

I understand that the writing on these cartoon shows can be clever, and I get that the show (whichever it is) is an ironical, witty look at society, via a talking dog or boy with hair like a row of flesh-colored triangles. I get that. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve watched some of these SOUTH PARKS or SIMPSONS on many occasions, and I’ve laughed. But I would just feel, physically, like a tub of soft ice cream if I was to actually work my schedule around ANIMATION DOMINATION. I wonder if my father or grandfather watched witty cartoons at 30 years old.

Then there are guys who have whole season DVD sets of these cartoon shows, and watch them marathon-style on a Saturday afternoon. It’s just too much and I immediately see you in a different light if you list THE CLEVELAND SHOW or THE SIMPSONS as your favorite TV show, or go around quoting one liners from a talking dog. I don’t really have a concrete list of arguments against this. I just don’t get it. As a grown man I could never stop myself long enough to sit in front of a TV set and find genuine entertainment value in watching a ‘witty’ cartoon. A few weeks ago someone tried telling me that she doesn’t watch THE SIMPSONS because it belittles women. Huh? That is either the falsest stance in world history or just another person who is taking the sketched tribulations of Homer & Marge Simpson (who haven’t aged in 21 years) way too seriously. It’s a cartoon!

Some people might read this and say, “You just like serious shows.” Others may say, “Get the stick out of your rear end.” There’s no secret about what shows I love: THE SOPRANOS, SEINFELD, CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, 30 ROCK, 90210 (the original). I like great comedy and appreciate groundbreaking television, you know the big moments like 'Donna Martin graduates.' Clever perspective on modern-day issues is always interesting. I just don’t need a cartoon character to serve it to me. And even now with TV being so bad, IDOL being 100% unwatchable, this recycled reality crapathon, and TV dramas that you and I both know will never, ever, ever touch THE SOPRANOS, I still haven’t thought about turning to the cartoon genre. In fact I think it’s safe to say my TV hasn’t been tuned to Fox’s Sunday night lineup since I was in 8th grade. And even then I knew it was probably a waste of time.

I blame Generation X for this cartoon phenomenon. Everyone just got so damn ironical, and witty, and clever along the way. And from this same age group came this witty outlook on everything, and I guess we love our wit transported through the mouthpiece of a talking dog on a cartoon show.

Let me tell you something: my dad would’ve never sat around and watched cartoons on a Sunday night, then talked about it with his friends down at the Plant. Are cartoons another element of this wimpy (I mean witty) generation who are entering their thirties? At 30, my dad and his friends had beards, and blue-collar jobs, and families. My friends have Facebook accounts, and post on it daily, and can’t live without their I-Phone.

My point: I guess I belong to a softer generation of men. Men who hit the gym regularly, wear t-shirts with funny sayings, and watch cartoons on Sunday night. Is that every 30 year old in America? Of course not. Is it many of them? I think so. I grew up in a basement apt. with no windows until I was 9 years old. My father wore the same pair of jeans for 10 years. He drove a 1978 Granada with rust holes the size of softballs. But not me: I blog, and read Tristan Egolf, and eat low-fat yogurt. And not us (Gen X). We tweet, and care about Khloe Kardashian, and watch cartoons at 30 years old. That’s who I am, what I belong to. That’s my legacy, my generation. Cue the ironical smiley face.

See more Gen X wimpiness (I mean wittiness) on Facebook @ the Cat’s Pajamas

Brian Huba

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