(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
As a Gen-Xer, some of my fondest memories of childhood involved waking up on Saturday mornings, pouring myself a breakfast of chocolate frosted sugar bombs into a bowl, and then watching a few hours of Saturday morning cartoons. The Warner Brothers were my personal favorites and you can learn a lot by watching these cartoons. I still recognize pieces of classical music that I associate with these cartoons for instance. If you paid attention, Bugs Bunny was actually an outstanding role model: never initiating a conflict, but always finishing them. Wile E. Coyote Supra-Genius has made more than a few appearances here on the JPGB as a symbol of technocratic overreach in K-12. In fact, there is no doubt that education reform would have profited by more viewing of Road Runner cartoons to instruct on the possibilities of unintended consequences to complicated policy efforts:
Alas the institution of Saturday Morning Cartoons itself bit the dust due to social engineering from the federal government. In 1990, our august group of Olympians in Congress took time out of their busy schedules to pass something called the Children’s Television Act. The Children’s Television Act, sponsored by Texas Congressman John W. Bryant, required networks to provide three hours per week of “educational” programming to “meet the needs” of children age 16 and younger.
What unfolded was a slow process of the FCC bureaucrats fumbling over what constitutes “educational” programming, and the steady squeezing out of Saturday morning cartoons. The last minor network holdout gave up the ghost on Saturday morning cartoons in 2014, but the institution had effectively died long ago.
The three Ladner children never once in their lives got up to have breakfast (something at least a bit more nutritionally sound than chocolate frosted sugar bombs btw) and shuffled to the television to watch federally mandated “educational” programming. The federal government is mandating this programming, but I seriously doubt much of anyone is watching it. Meanwhile, an important American cultural institution has been destroyed. Make a reference to “Spear and Magic Helmet” or “Cook-Where’s my Hessenheffer?!?” to younger people and are likely to look at you puzzled.
For pointlessly ruining a revered American cultural practice in pursuit of bossing people around for “their own good” I nominate former Congressman John W. Bryant for the Higgy Inhumanitarian Award. If President Trump wants to “make America great again” he should repeal the Children’s Television Act. Where have you gone Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a half Century? Our nation turns its’ lonely eyes to you. The Children’s Television Act of 1990 is definitely obstructing my view of Venus.
We have a winner. All others abandon all hope.
TIL the correct spelling of “Hessenheffer.” I always heard it as something like “hossen-pfeffer” – but of course that might be Yosemite Sam’s garbled version.
Bonus points for capitalizing the German noun!
And don’t forget Scooby-Do! After eating a huge bowl of sugary deliciousness my sisters and I would map out our Saturday cartoon viewing plan. This exercise taught me both planning and negotiating skills. Scooby-Do, our consensus favorite, itself taught us about inclusion of diverse people into your social clique (including very shaggy ones), teamwork, and the value of massive sandwiches that could be consumed in a single bite, all without being preachy. Most importantly, Scooby-Do taught us empowerment. How many “old man ____”s declared “I would have gotten away with it, too, if not for those meddling kids!” For destroying Scooby-Do, I’m planning to vote Bryant for the Higgie.