Blog Post #2: Because Violence is Everywhere… Happy Tree Friends!

I believe most people remember a time when happy music and sweetly drawn animals were the focus of cartoons. Made for children, these cartoons usually had sweet little scenarios were the characters participated in harmless fun and learned a moral lesson at the end. But with the series Happy Tree Friends, created in 1999 by Rhode Montijo, Kenn Navarro, Warren Graff, and Aubrey Ankrum, it seems like one of those childhood cartoons but actually it is filled with so much violence and gore that many adults cannot bear to watch it. The series is supposed to only be for adults but because it is an internet sensation easily viewable on youtube, children everywhere are becoming engrossed in graphic violence and there is no way for their parents to protect them from it.

Each episode of Happy Tree Friends starts out with a certain forest animal doing a normal human task and ends with one or more characters dying violently by an accident.  This particular episode is called “Eyes Cold Lemonade” and as a disclaimer, if you do not like gore than you should not watch this clip.

Children should not have access to this, right? Wrong, they do. In fact, the internet has become so accessible to young people over the last ten years. Social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter make sharing information with friends instantly gratifying and its users are becoming younger every year. Videos, like Happy Tree Friends, have become viral because of social networking and so tons of people that are not supposed to be watching this cartoon are. In 2005 Kathrine Ellison, a Washington Post journalist, did an opinion piece on this very cartoon called, What’s Up, Doc? A Bloody Outrage, That’s What. In the piece Ellison complains about shows such as Happy Tree Friends being so easily accessible to her 6 year old son. She is even more outraged when she finds out that “…while watching the cartoon, to see banner ads for companies including Toyota and Kaiser Permanente (which has a new campaign they call “Thrive.” Thrive, indeed!).” Ellison is right to be so enraged. Even though the internet is not under censorship laws there should be some way of warning parents that there are corporately sponsored, violence filled, cartoons sitting right in front of their children’s noses.

I agree with Ellison when I say that Happy Tree Friends should not be ripped from the internet. There are people out there who enjoy such humor and know the difference between cartoons and real life. But when there are children out there who are impressionable and are internet savvy, there needs to be a way to warn parents so they can choose whether or not to block the cartoon. Youtube could make the cartoon only viewable by people with accounts aged 18 or over and another journalist could write blogs and articles about this cartoon in order to inform parents. Otherwise we are just sitting on a developmental time bomb waiting to blow. And if this bomb is anything like Happy Tree Friends, it will be bloody.

I commented on David Dinnison‘s and Brittany Alberry‘s Blog.

BLOG SPECIMEN: I edited a few mistakes and added a bit to the conclusion.

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Published in: on January 30, 2010 at 5:25 PM  Comments (6)  

Blog Post #1: Because I Love Religious Studies… Veggie Tales!

I love religion. Not because I am religious personally but because the way religion effects history fascinates me. There is something beautiful in how an idea about an unseen force can move hundreds of thousands of people to do, well, anything. In particular, evangelical Christians are very close to my heart. So I present the class with Veggie Tales for my first blog post. There really is no other animation that could present evangelical views quite like Veggie Tales.

Veggie Tales is a computer animated, straight-to-VHS, television show that targets young kids and teaches them certain Christian morals. Every episode has a certain moral theme to it and the animators use human-like vegetables to convey the morals to the children. This particular short is part of a continuing segment on the show called “Silly Songs with Larry” and is called, “Love Songs with Mr. Lunt: His Cheeseburger”.

My first thought about this video was, wow, way to bring kids to God through a cute, catchy song and video. The animators have made ordinary looking vegetables into cute, lovable characters. The characters are facially animated, the voices are exaggerated, and the colors are vibrant enough to keep a five-year old entertained. Also the song is catchy and is all about getting cheeseburgers. What more could a kid want? That’s where the religion aspect enters. The song has subliminal messages about loving and being together with God.  Some of the lyrics are:

Because he loves you cheeseburger/ with all his heart/ there ain’t nothing gonna tear/ you two apart

In short, God loves you so much that nothing would tear you apart. The writers are attempting to show children that God is not only fun but that he also loves you and wants to you to love him as well. Veggie Tales really is good at proving that an Christian children show can be fun and spiritual at the same time. And besides, who doesn’t want to watch singing and dancing vegetables?

Myca Taylor

ETA: I commented on: Katherine Danoy’s Blog and Samantha Francis’s Blog.

Published in: on January 21, 2010 at 8:47 PM  Comments (6)