Are cartoons made for children?


For many parents, cartoons have become a trusted television element for their children to enjoy without the concern attached to other television genres. Parents have entrusted Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and The Disney Channel with their children’s spare time, and many parents have turned these channels into the babysitter on many occasions. The cartoons displayed on these channels are considered children’s cartoons, but the emergence of a genre of adult cartoons has slowly infiltrated television and has captivated audiences. These cartoons are not meant for children, but their presence and popularity among television audiences has influenced the content of current children cartoons.

The cartoon “Family Guy”, which airs on TBS is one of the most popular adult cartoons currently out. Its content deals with subjects such as sex, drugs, and even violence, but while pushing the envelope it has still abided by the FCC guidelines. Following the road paved by cartoons such as “The Simpsons”, “Family Guy” has maintained a healthy audience of all audiences. The adult topic matter can be viewed in clips such as these.

The clip shows “Stewie”, the child of the family, beating “Brian”, the family dog, for owing him money. The scene slowly gets violent, and demonstrates the extreme violence used to induce laughter from an audience. This genre of adult cartoon is so popular that Cartoon Network has devoted an entire lineup of programming meant for adults. The channel, which is primarily viewed by a children audience, switches instantly to adult programming without much of a warning. The children being entertained previously while watching Cartoon Network could possibly be exposed to graphic and violent content the next, without the parents even noticing. Mature content is not only being seen in the genre of adult cartoons but also in children cartoons such as “Spongebob Square Pants”.

The show “Spongebob Square Pants” is made for a children’s audience, but has recently been used in other genres such as commercial advertisements for Burger King. During a promotional series for Burger King the cartoon character SpongeBob Square Pants is seen rapping to the song “Baby Got back” by Sir mix-a-lot. Though the words have been changed to the song, the song is popular enough for many audiences to make a connection between the content of the actual lyrics to the cartoon character. The actual lyrics are describing the female attributes of women who are well endowed in the area of the buttocks. Below is a video of the commercial.

The song describes Spongebob Square Pants as having a buttocks with phone book implants. This description leaves a child wondering, what are implants? A topic which may or may not be appropriate for a child depending on the age, but because Spongebob Square Pants is being used a hook to reel in both adult and children audiences, the child suffers as a result.  The video was removed shortly after it appeared on network television, but my question lies on why the creators of the video found it appropriate to link this cartoon character with such an adult song. The falsely assumed likeability of the commercial lie possibly with the rising increase of adult cartoons, and the inability to create a barrier between adult and children cartoons.


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