This week’s inductees into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” are … cartoons.
Last week the Sunday newspaper had a little piece devoted to offbeat (read: way too precious) ideas for first dates. These suggestions were beings sold as quirky and unique, largely because they written by a 25-year-old who no doubt thought these outre outings were being suggested for the first time. I think a picnic was one of her big ideas.
I was scanning this boring, innocuous list without feeling any of the usual Bitters bile rising withing me, until … one of the big, bold ideas was taking your first date to brunch. Fine idea, I know. Most of us like brunch. Brunch is not overrated. You don’t have to rise at some ungodly hour and you’re not relegated to eating only those shitty breakfast foods that help make America the home of the fat and the land of bloated. Brunch is good.
But it was the added feature of this brunch that had me hating a certain segment of humanity. (And, in my perverse way, feeling better, because I do love to hate.) Some urban bar/restaurant holds a cartoon brunch on Sundays. For adults. Cartoons. To be watched and actually enjoyed. By adults. Not animated porn. Not dark graphic novels set to celluloid. Kid movies, like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Ratatouille.”
If you are a grown-up and you still enjoy animation that was created for kids, it might be time to do a little self evaluation and perhaps seek professional help, because you are suffering from delusions of being a grown-ass adult. I’m not talking about watching animated movies with little kids. That is being a good parent or uncle or babysitter. But even then you should mainly be enjoying the kid’s reaction to the movie and not the movie itself.
To test whether or not you are a Manchild or Womanchild, see how many of the following apply to you:
a) You can eloquently explain why The Lion King is superior to “Shrek” in terms of plot structure and thematic development.
b) You can engage in passionate debate over the overall greatness ranking of the Toy Story movies.
c) You have quoted an animated movie. (Yes, “ironically” counts, because just knowing the line word-for-word and having it at the conversation ready is not a good thing.)
d) You tear up at any time while watching the following: Any. Fucking. Cartoon.
e) You are over 30 and own an animated movie but do not yet own a child. (If you are in your 20’s and own an animated movie, you get a pass, because many of the classics – as in “yeah, whatever” – came out when you were a kid. However, you should not be watching them now, because … they were made for kids. You are too old for cartoons.)
f) You have suggested the viewing of an animated DVD to a child not for the purpose of shutting his spastic ass up for 90 minutes but to, in fact, enjoy the movie with him.
g) You have a first date coming up and have already done a Google search trying to find out if there is a cartoon brunch near you.
If any of the above apply to you, then you need to, if you’ll allow this atheist to quote scripture just this once, put away childish things.
Yes, I know these movies have a sprinkling of adult humor and a few clever lines have been inserted throughout, but these are supposed to help you endure the movie, not actually enjoy it and crave repeated viewings. These movies are just well-made but very simple little morality plays for children. Any lines that are just for the big people are little thank-you’s from the moviemakers, no doubt parents themselves who know the pain of schlepping little kids to a theater on a Saturday afternoon to watch animated figures act out a tale that conveys the groundbreaking truths that meanness is bad and goodness is good.
Please note that this does not include all the brilliant animated fare that kids watch but that is really created for adults who appreciate acerbic wit and brilliant societal skewering, such as all-time great shows like Family Guy, The Simpsons and South Park. Sure, kids watch them, but they are not kid shows. Those are animated features that should be enjoyed by adults.
But any adult with a gram of self-esteem should not arrange a first date or even a marriage date that includes brunch, bloody Marys and Babar. How could you want to bang a person who considers 101 Dalmations a viable entertainment option, let alone a cool way to spend two hours of a first date? What do you do after brunch, head to the 7-11 for candy and then go play with dolls?
Then again, maybe that restaurant is doing people like me a real service. If they can hook up all the people who like to watch, analyze and talk about animated movies, then those people will have like-minded conversation partners and will no longer bore me to fantasies of suicide by gushing about how gooooooooood Wall-E is.
So, all you Peter Pan putzes who enjoy watching cartoons, go have a nice brunch and watch your little kid movies. I hope you find Mr. or Mrs. Right. But if you aren’t that lucky, at least there’s some consolation in finding freaking Nemo.
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.