April 22nd, 2021
I was brainwashed as a child to love and deeply care for my planet. And I couldn’t be more grateful.
If you’re my age, you might have been, too.
So how did this happen?
If you were a child of the 70’s and 80’s, you lived through what many consider to be the Golden Age of Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was the Wild West, lawless and a goldmine for the adults who were throwing the party: commercial after commercial directed squarely at children ran between shows that were also designed to be half-hour-long commercials. It was a candy-colored capitalistic dream.
Until someone at the FCC said, “Wait. Our kids are real stupid and all they want to do is just literally buy stuff. Is… is this bad?”
It’s not great.
So along came the Children’s Television Act of 1990. It required broadcast stations to air educational programming for a portion of every day, particularly when kids were likely to be watching.
Since America is very much so a place where people like to pretend to care about children but definitely care about money more, they had to find loopholes. And they did.
They started making the cartoon advertisements about stuff that was important, in an effort to kill two birds (make kids smarter, make more money) with one enticing stone.
The most notable example is Captain Planet, which has an amazing backstory (look up Toy Galaxy on YouTube for a great historical account on the Ted Turner-backed project, and a more in-depth look at how Saturday Morning Cartoons changed).
Since the shows themselves now contained “educational content” (which became a subjective phrase, and lacked accountability), they were free to also sell stuff to children — like Captain Planet toys.
This dude I’m holding is from a TV show called Biker Mice From Mars. How in the heck is a show about three person-sized alien mice, who drove motorcycles that definitely caused emissions, about anything but selling toys? Well, they’re refugees from Mars, which was attacked by another group of aliens who stripped the planet of its resources. The Biker Mice are trying to stop the same thing from happening on Earth.
Now this is the best part: it backfired.
We actually paid attention to this planet Earth propaganda, and it made some of us environmentalists, even accidently or subconsciously.
And you have a bunch of old people who are upset that we care about our planet so much that we want to change the way we live — and they don’t even see the irony that it’s their damn fault.
They wanted me to buy Biker Mice From Mars toys so bad that they didn’t realize I’d actually want to grow up to be one.
All of this to say: Happy Earth Day. I hope you love this planet as much as I have been brainwashed into loving it. I hope you see its unlimited potential, its boundless beauty, and realize how unique its existence truly is.