Grown Up Cartoons

There are two types of Family Guy viewers in my household. The first group is the two young adults who are fluent enough in English to understand the witty scenarios woven into a nonsensical plot (my brother and I). The second category of viewers is attracted to the visual element of the show. What they see is a baby with the enormous head and his talking dog. They watch—or at least try to watch before someone catches them red handed—because this show is a cartoon. The second set of viewers is my elementary school aged niece and nephew.

I had a hard time getting into Family Guy for the same reasons that drew the kids in my life towards the show. I even remember once putting it on for them when all other cartoons called it quits for the night. I also remember how both of them screamed at me when I changed the channel. Mixed feelings towards the show were bubbling when my brother invited me to watch Stewie’s mishaps with him one evening. Of course I declined and, naturally, he persuaded me to at least sit through one episode. Needless to say, I enjoyed myself and can now understand the large fan base—adult fan base.

A little while after my Family Guy revelation, I went to my brother’s room only to find him watching more cartoons. I gave him a disapproving look; he needed to grow up already. This time it was an anime called Naruto. Again I had to sit through an episode. I can’t say I was converted into a fan just as I was for Family Guy because the show is very serialized and I walked into the middle of the series. My hour was spent with my brother’s personalized narration and frequent pauses of the show for explanation. I ended up just being frustrated with EVERYTHING thrown at me in such a short period of time. Or maybe my brother was just extending an invitation to me to join the allegiance? Was he sharing the cultural capital he earned through months of devotion? Nevertheless, I did appreciate it for what it was. Anime (or at least Naruto) is in fact very sophisticated, well structured, and sets up a world that is easy to fall into. This is by no means child’s play.

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