A Boy and His TV

Wait... Tails wasn't brown!
All the other boys in my kindergarten class spent most of the year making a 200 piece Ninja Turtles puzzle in a side room, but I opted out of it. Ninja Turtles were the biggest thing around at the time, but they weren't my thing, and the same went for that whole Transformers/ G.I. Joe/ He-Man programming group so intensely marketed to us. Maybe the cars, guns, explosions, and pizza did appeal to me on their own, but not with all the muscles. I was scrawny and therefore easily intimidated by anything burly, and I just thought all that chest thumping and general badassed-ness was too intense and not nearly saccharine enough. 

I didn't go hungry though, because the 90's served up so much sugar on TV it's a wonder I still have all my teeth. Let's just say, my brother and I had "less badass" interests on lazy Saturday mornings in 1990, and shows like Maya the Bee, The Littl'bits, Shining Time Station, Fraggle Rock, Eureka's Castle (sadly) and Sonic the Hedgehog made up the bulk of it. Anything clean, colorful, mindless, and utterly devoid of muscles was good enough. These shows didn't activate my urges to break into random sword fighting during commercial breaks, but they were sweet enough pieces of eye candy to chew down between commercial breaks. They may have been trying to instead stimulate that seldom-used thing called a brain, but then again probably not. If my brain couldn't be compelled by cars, guns, muscles, and pizza, then it probably wasn't going to be compelled by hedgehogs, stupid dogs, exploding eyes, and pizza, either.

I didn't like Ninja Turtles, Street Sharks, Dino-Vengers, Gargoyles, Transformers, or even the dang Cheetahmen. Did I watch them? Well, of course. Who didn't? Who doesn't know their Raphael from their Donatello? Who doesn't love Ripster and Streex? Who can't name T-bone's signature move? Come on. But give me Rocko's Modern Life and Pete and Pete any day.  I traded bulging muscles, Kung Fu turtles, and underwear being worn on the outside, for fuzzy puppets, claymation puke, and cartoon animals who don't even wear underwear, let alone pants. No, violence was too intense for this little dork, but I could stomach a good "Sonic Sez Says" whenever required. Give me BURPS ("Aw yeah!"), farts ("Awesome!"), toilets ("Elite!"), corn dogs ("Excellent!"), roller blades ("Radical!"), pizza ("Tubular!"). Give me cartoony Loony Tuney violence ("No DUH!"). Give anything that goes good with a couch, my butt on it, and the crunching of Cheetos ("Pferrrrrbp!").

So did I watch the girly shows? Of course. They were on TV were they not? When that box is lit up, you obey. I watched the Care Bears. I watched My Little Pony (the old one... the new one I currently watch of course). I watched Clarissa (what kind of name is that anyway?). At daycare I may have had to tuck certain parts in while these shows were going, you know, just to hope I blended in with the rest of the audience, but trust me, my mind was so zonked out by that point I never seemed to notice when the colors started going more soft, more pastel, and the animals started getting more cutesy, more plush and Lisa Frank-ish, with bigger eyes and high-pitched migraine-inducing voices... and the presence of such things like "kindness" and "sharing" and "friendship" and other things that corrode the Y chromosome, and the absolute banishment of all fart jokes, and then that strange conspicuous scene in the middle of every girly show where all the characters would just stare at you and say, in a robot voice, "Okay girls! Now that the boys have left the room, let's roll out plan 67B for world domination!" Always thought that was a little weird.

In the 80s and early 90s, children's television existed for the sole purpose of selling you toys. That was what it was all about, whether it was a new Transformer or a new Sonic game. And there are just two different types of boys wanting those toys... the "hoo-ra!" ones who dream of driving a jet across a desert at high speeds only to morph into a robot that can shoot lasers from its shoulders, and the "uber dorks" like me who just want a trippy comedy adventure complete with furry animals, toilet jokes, and morals like a sledgehammer. In the end, it was all good, because it was all cheese... worth biting into so long as you held your nose. And if you waited for the commercial breaks, you knew just what to pester your parents for. See? That makes it simple. 

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