Episode 59: Environmentalism in Cartoons

Captain Planet

Captain Planet - He's a zero!

This week in Animation Aficionados, we’re talking about environmentalism in cartoons. What’s good. What’s not. What’s downright condescending. It’s all here. So get out your Planeteer rings, cut up some soda can rings, and dig out your NiCad batteries. We’re giving a shout-out to Mother Earth!

Widget the World Watcher


The Hitler-Stache

Hitler's mustache is SO OFFENSIVE, that they turned him into Triple-H.

Stuff we talk about:
Captain Planet
Toxic Crusaders
Widget The World Watcher
Yogi’s Gang
Tiny Toons
…& more!

Bonus! Bonus!
Download Ben Heckendorn’s Possumus Woman!

Possumus Woman Poster

Toxic sludge creates a monster... and there are no condescending environmentalist messages anywhere! YES!

Click on image:
From Ben Heck's "Possumus Woman"

"One of only 3 left on Mother Earth. The Marcupoflias Plant blooms once every 30 years, is ingenous only to this area, and can cure cancer."

5 thoughts on “Episode 59: Environmentalism in Cartoons

  1. I talk too much -_-; Sorry.

    1. Ferngully is the WORST offender. I encourage everyone to watch it, just so they can share in my rage. It came out when I was 6 or 7 years old and even then I called BS. I feel like the writers dumb down environmental issues SO MUCH, that the message itself becomes dumb. Ok, we shouldn’t destroy rain forests, but Ferngully’s message is “if you cut down a tree, no, if you even BUMP INTO A TREE, you’re a fairy killing DEMON, and God probably hates you.” Meanwhile, me and 90% of a America lives in a house made, in some part, of wood. So we’re all living in a fairy coffin. Plus, Robin Williams is a deranged, mentally challanged bat — that doesn’t do much to help me take their message seriously.

    2. Captain Planet. OMG. Let the massive rant begin:

    – This show came out a few days before my 4th birthday. I started watching it and never stopped. I started recycling because of that show. As a little kid, I found a recycling bin, put out my plastics once a week and waited for the recycling truck to come around. I was the happiest kid in the world when they came by and got my stuff. (more on recycling later)

    – Heart is the best element. Ma-Ti could control emotions. Anyone who can say STFU to a tiger or calm a mob gets a thumbs up in my book. His power was awesome and they never, ever, EVER used it to it’s full potential! His power bought the Captain to life. I think his power should have been life. That way, he could communicate with any living thing, not just something with a heartbeat. That way, wouldn’t he be able to talk to the Earth and help it heal or something? I’m probably over thinking this, but someone who could soothe emotions should have been able to do more to pacify the villains in the show. I’m just saying. I also thought Wheelers power could have been split in two. Heat and light instead of just fire. Lasers anyone? Would have been so awesome.

    – Half of the episodes were about environmental or world issues that kids have NO control over!

    Example: There was an episode where Wheeler dreams of the future. He and Linka are married and have about 9 badass, wild, Bebe’s kids (I can’t be the only person who’s seen that movie lol), and the other Planateers are shopping at Wal-Mart, buying big screen TV’s and dumping chemicals into the river water. Long story short, it talked about over consumption, over population and needlessly wasting resources. I first saw this episode when I was 7. What am I going to do about any of this?! I, the 7 year old, appologize for taking up space on the Earth. I promise not to buy a big screen TV, dump radioactive waste in a sewer, start a nuclear war, pledge my allegiance to Hitler or have any babies. >_>

    – And then there was the episode about drugs where Linka’s cousin gets pills from a diseased mutant man, overdoses on glowing mind-control pills and dies. I could write a book on that episode ALONE! I hate shows about drugs aimed at very young kids (anyone under 7), because they raise the issue then pussy foot around it. When I was a kid, DARE was popular. Everyone was on the “don’t do drugs” kick. They came to my classroom, we went on field trips but NO ONE ever told me what drugs were! So everytime my mom went to the drugstore to buy my Flintstone vitamins, I’d tell her, “drugs are bad! I can’t do drugs!” I didn’t know what cocaine was. I didn’t know about meth. I just knew drugs = bad. Tell me why they’re bad. Kids aren’t idiots and they can handle the truth. You don’t have to go into vivid detail about how you sold your body for an ounce of crystal, just tell them this stuff will f_ck them up and kill them. Show them what that stuff looks like and tell them to avoid it like the plauge. Don’t show them glowing nuclear pills that don’t exist.

    – ROFL their jet. ’nuff said.

    – Captain Planet destroyed his own message. The power is yours? No. The power belongs to a mythical flying man made of diamonds who punches bad guys into submission and you can only access his power if you have a magic ring and four friends who ALSO have magic rings. Oh, and you need a flying jet so you can help the entire planet.

    – Why couldn’t Captain Planet just get all of the worlds trash and throw it into the sun? Oh, that’s because:

    – Captain Planets weakness is polution. Yet his main purpose is to fight pollution. It would be like Superman only having enemies made 100% of Kryptonite. He’d be dead in 10 minutes.

    – I try not to think about Captain Planets weakness to nuclear energy and him getting his strength from the sun. Just like, as a kid, I tried not to think of the Green Lantern working on a planet with a yellow sun. (yeah, I know they’ve nixed the whole “yellow is my weakness thing” since my childhood.)

    3. Animals. I think if we can help a species survive, we should. We helped the Bald Eagles get off the endangered species list, let’s see if we can help the Tigers. Let’s cure Tazmanian Devil cancer, but let’s not forget the children in the hospitals who are also fighting cancer.

    4. Avatar. Meh. I don’t mind the fact that a race is content with nature and they glide on animals instead of driving a Hummer, I mind the fact that people think the story is so fantastic. It’s not. It’s a beautiful movie visually, but it’s Furngully for adults. That’s it. Invaders want to strip the the land for it’s resources. Wow, I’ve never seen a movie like that before. And what’s up with Pandora? Why are there only 800 people on the planet? But all in all, I did enjoy Pochahont… I mean, Smurfs in Space.

    5. I’m a recycling fan, but I wish that people (cartoons, movies, whatever) would take the time to explain what it is and what it can and cannot do. Also, remind people of the THREE R’s, not just the last one. Reduce – You don’t have to buy 5 cases of Dasani. Buy a water filter and a 1 liter bottle. Reuse – that bottle until it breaks. When it breaks, Recycle it. And be aware that you don’t just take a pound of plastic, recycle it, and return a pound of plastic to the grocery shelf. It’s a long, expensive process and some of the material is lost in the process. Plastic, unlike glass, can’t be recycled indefinitley. Eventually it’s going to end up in the trash anyway, becuase it can’t be recycled anymore.

    – Solar power has a lot of potential as a clean energy source, and I hope that in time we can develop a way to use it to it’s full potential. In the mean time, don’t guilt trip people because they drove to work, or didn’t buy a $6 light bulb.

    6. I’m suprised no one talked about Happy Feet! OMG! That one, more than any other enviornmental movie, really hit me upside the head. I had NO IDEA that a movie about a dancing penguin would turn into THAT. The penguin who gets his head stuck in one of those plastic soda can rings and slowly chokes through out the 90 minute movie? Seriously creepy. And the fact that it was aimed at kids? Grimey. None of the enviornmental stuff was in any of the commercials, so when a kid goes to the movies to see a dancing penguin, only to see a penguin dying on screen is just awful. I hope parents talked to their kids before taking them to see it.

    In the end, I think it’s great to raise these kinds of issues, and make it entertaining. Don’t make crap up though. Do – tell kids drugs, like meth, are bad. Don’t – tell them glowing pills sold by a talking ratman is bad. Do – teach your kids not to be wasteful, and don’t get 50 of something that they only need 1 of, like water bottles. Don’t – lead your kids to believe that a magical machine at the recycling plant will get rid of ALL of the Earths waste and turn toxic waste into drinking water.

    • I’ve got your answer on the Captain Planet issues that kids have no control over. It’s called greenie apologetics. Basically, it’s not intended to give children problems that they’re able to solve. It’s to turn them into nagging, finger-wagging automatons who complain about things that they know nothing about. Kind of like today’s environmentalist movement.

      And that’s not to attack ecological awareness, but there’s a short-sightedness that has really gotten on my nerves. It stems from the fact that people think that they’ve found the solution, and when someone brings up a casual objection, the greenies get upset and pout, because they think that they’ve already found the right answer.

      Ben brought up an interesting point, which is that there are possibly other things we could be doing with some of these used resources. It sounds silly and dreamy to even suggest that, but you have to remember that at one time, gasoline was a waste product. I’m dead serious! Petroleum companies used to have to find ways to dispose of gasoline. And now the world runs on it.

      And no, I don’t think plastic bottles are necessarily going to provide the same solution, but someone ought to look into what CAN be done with the chemical compounds in this stuff instead of just trying to make the same stuff over and over again, which is actually very costly.

      Oh, and that reminds me. You’re absolutely right! You don’t have to buy Dasien Dasani at the store at all. It’s TAP WATER. You’re paying Coke and Pepsi to turn on the faucet and sell you the water they get from the same source that you do in a plastic water bottle. You don’t even need a water filter. I drink water right out of the tap. The amount of toxins in ordinary tap water is so negligible that you can (and maybe people have) go your entire life drinking right out of the faucet with no ill effects.

      And finally… OH MY GOD… I can’t believe that I forgot to put this song in the show. I should be lashed for this.

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