Retro Pop Media Exposure

One of the best things about being a mom is getting to expose my children to all of the pop culture I grew up with when I was a kid. Sure, the TV programs of today are certainly more educational – with the exception of the always educational Sesame Street – but the nostalgic side of me still fondly remembers the cartoons and movies of my youth.

And thanks to Netflix having nothing decent from the past five years available in its instant streaming collection, I’ve been having regular flashbacks to the days of neon clothing and non-computerized animation. Some things haven’t changed: Jim Henson Studios is just as awesome as it was back then. But I’m realizing that some of my memory may have been clouded now that I’m watching all of these cartoons and movies with an adult’s judgment. Yet some of them are just as fantastic now as they were in the eighties.

What have I been forcing…umm…encouraging my daughters to watch recently? Glad you asked!

He-Man and She-Ra – The animation is very heavy on stock footage, and you can tell each voice actor has at least 6 characters on his or her credits, but the storylines still hold up today. The moral of the story at the end of each episode (just in case you didn’t pick up on that episode’s theme) is still cute, too.

But I especially love the girl-power message in She-Ra, and will gladly let Cordy and Mira watch this whenever they want.

Fraggle Rock – I never really watched Fraggle Rock much as a kid. I liked the original Muppet Show and Sesame Street, but for some reason I wasn’t that interested in Fraggle Rock. Now that my kids watch it, though, I wish I would have seen more of it when I was younger. The green-screen effects are ancient, but muppets are timeless.

Scooby Doo – This one I take no credit for. They’ve both seen Scooby Doo at school, and then asked to watch it at home. I didn’t like Scooby Doo much as a kid, and I still don’t care for it now. I like the idea of solving mysteries and proving that most scary things are explainable, but the humor just isn’t for me. If they ask to watch Scooby Doo, I use that time to catch up on email or clean. In another room.

Labyrinth – I loved this movie as a child for the fantasy storyline and the beautiful scenery. As an adult, I can’t stop staring at David Bowie’s package on display in those tights throughout the entire movie, which I guess means I’m still enjoying the beautiful scenery. Still a great story, still a fun adventure, and muppets are still timeless.

Jem – (Damn, I shouldn’t have put this right after Labyrinth – Jem & the Goblin King apparently have the same hairdresser.) I loved Jem as a kid. Had the dolls (with the cassettes that came with each of them), knew all the songs, and watched every episode. Watching it now, I wonder how brainwashed I must have been to like this show. Truly outrageous? More like truly baaaaaaad. The animation is awful, most of it features stereotypes of shallow, catty behavior in women, and how did I forget there was so much kissing in this show? Of course, I forgot all of this until AFTER I showed an episode to my kids. Now they love it and want to see more. Oops.

My Little Pony – OK, so my daughters aren’t watching the original My Little Pony that I watched in the eighties. There’s a new series on the Hub network now, and all of the reviews I’ve read say that it’s much better than the original. I have vague, fuzzy memories of being enamored with the original, so I’ll just have to take their word for it. The new series is fun, the ponies have a lot of attitude, and the new animation style is slick.

The Neverending Story – Admit it: you cried when Atreyu’s horse sunk in the swamp. I did every single time I saw this movie. And Cordy proved yet again to be a younger version of me – while watching it for the first time, all she could think about for the remainder of the movie was, “What happened to his horse? Will the horse be OK?” Forget the Nothing swallowing up all of Fantasia, or the creepy-yet-pretty Southern Oracle with the laser eyes, or the Empress dying…it’s all about Atreyu’s horse. Cordy wasn’t able to get a close enough look at the horse at the end of the movie to tell if it was the same horse, and even today she’s still worried about that horse sinking in the swamp. We may wait another year before attempting this movie again.

Care Bears – Care Bears can burn in a smiley rainbow fire if I had anything to say about it. Maybe a little harsh, but I find them annoying now. I think I liked them as a very young child, but I can’t remember. If I did, I’d like to take this chance to apologize to my mother for being forced to endure the Care Bear Stare.

Voltron – This was one of my favorites as a kid. (The Voltron with the lions, not the one with the cars.) I still like it, although both Cordy and Mira are unimpressed. Heathens. I’m sure I’ll be able to convince them of the stellar quality of this cartoon someday.

Beakman’s World – This was actually from the nineties, but it was amazing. Beakman was the more guerrilla-style, gross-em-out and keep-em-coming-back-for-more science teacher to Bill Nye’s more straight-laced version. But it worked, and it made science really cool.

Cordy has watched every episode of this now and can tell you how antibodies work and where rain goes when it dries up, as well as several other impressive science facts. The more she watches, the more science she absorbs, and I’m happy to contribute to that addiction.

So that’s what we’ve been watching lately, and I’m sure it’s just the beginning. After all, there’s still Thundercats. And Gargoyles. And The Dark Crystal. Then all of Star Wars, then all of Harry Potter, then…

What about you? Are there any movies or TV shows from your youth that you’ve exposed or can’t wait to inflict on your kids?

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  1. The Addams Family and the Munsters.

    And someday, we’ll all sit down and watch Blazing Saddles. 🙂

  2. My kids love Beakman’s World, too. They also watched HR Puffenstuff obsessively for a while, which makes me feel like I win at parenting.

  3. Of course, my lovely wife neglects to mention that the nineties Spider-Man, X-Men Evolution and the much more recent Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are all also on Netflix, and our girls have been watching those as well.

  4. We rediscovered Beakman’s World on Netflix about a month ago, and my kids are loving it! They also really like Sid the Science Kid and Bob the Builder. I like that my kids like shows that actually teach them things!

  5. MN RN Mom says:

    My daughter has been watching the Muppets (show and movies) since she was 4. We recently watched the original (our version – Christopher Reeve) Superman. She was so mad at us for not warning her that Pa Kent died! Hadn’t even occured to us, honestly, but she said the rest of the movie was “ok”. She’s decided that she’s too young for Star Wars still “too scary” (we’ll keep working on that). Work up to the X-men movies, Labrynth, maybe The Last Unicorn will be next. We watched The Neverending Story a couple weeks ago, she loved it, was scared by the laser shooting Southern Oracle, but didn’t even blink at the rest. Oh, and she saw The Wizard of Oz earlier this year.
    I love the cartoon GI Joe and Thundercats when I was growing up (and had to sneak over to a friend’s house to watch them). I’d love to have her ck those out too. The 80s version though, the new version looks terrible.

  6. We love Labyrinth in this house regarding the “scenery.” I love the never-ending story too but I don’t think the kids are ready for it yet.

  7. So fine. I’ve posted the most embarrassing story of my life. And I promise not a single person on here can top it!

  8. My son LOVES the original Transformers, Smurfs and Inspector Gadget. But his absolute favorite is all the old Mario cartoons.