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.

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

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I agree that childern today have easy access to the internet, where they can find shows that seem innocent, but in reality there not. How do we stop this? Shutting the tv or computer off won’t help. But, being observant of what a child is watching could be beneficial. I remember Ren & Stimpy–my mom made sure we didn’t watch that show because it wasn’t humorous and it was a bit stupid for us to watch. Parents need to be observant of what their childern are watching both on the computer and the tv.

  2. While I agree that this is horribly violent and inappropriate, I do not feel it should be ripped from the internet. What happened to parenting? They now make software tracking where kids go an blocking sites parents don’t want them going to. When I was a child, my parents only allowed me onto certain sites. If I went elsewhere, I lost internet privileges. By removing these from the internet, I think you are taking away a chance for these animators to get their work out there, which they cannot do on television. People like my husband love cartoons like this. People need to stop blaming things like the media, television, and the internet for their lack of parenting and actually pay attention to what their kids do.

  3. I remember seeing these cartoons when a friend of mine showed it to me when we were both only around 13 years old. He thought it was pretty funny while I failed to see the humor in most of violent shorts. I remember when South Park first came out and so many people were appauled at what they were saying and doing in the show. I think the cute animation can be misleading for kids and parents should be aware of what is out there

  4. Any discussion like this inherently strays from the subject of animation and moves into the realm of parenting. You ask whether there is a way for parent’s to control what cartoons their children are watching. Oh course they can. I have an 11-year-old sister, and the only way she can get on the internet is if my parents log her in. When on the internet, any sites my parents find questionable are blocked. Plus, to follow up (if a parent is not watching over the child), they can simply not allow the child the ability to clear the history, so any online traffic can be viewed. You obviously don’t advocate widespread censoring, but you do neglect the idea that some new system doesn’t need to be created for parents to censor a child’s online experience; Parents should simply be attentive.

    • I don’t believe we always have to talk about the actual animation but what this animation in fact does. Parents also cannot always be that attentive. I’m glad that your parents know how to use the internet but my mother is glad to find google. Plus, not all parents have the time to sit and look through their child’s history and watch everything. The name of the cartoon is “Happy Tree Friends”, that doesn’t sound like anything malicious. If I was a parent and looking at what my child was watching, I’d be looking for names of porn sites and other questionable material easily found in the name of the site. Plus if you watch the first couple seconds of the animation it looks like a fun child’s show, not an adult humor short.

      Happy Tree Friends just doesn’t have these certain blocks. Like for instance, youtube has a way of making you sign in in order to view some material… why isn’t that applied to Happy Tree Friends? Its a simple matter of presentation and I wouldn’t blame a parent if they just didn’t know.

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