Ah, the phrase alone is filled with memory and meaning. And of course, cartoons. What adult born after 1950 or so doesn’t have some type of relationship with the cartoons and shows airing on Saturday mornings? On , I posted about an animated/puppet show I’m working on called that is a love letter to the pop culture of my childhood. Today, I’d like to dig in a little more on the topic of Saturday Mornings, and how the meaning of that has changed for today’s kids.
First, it is important to point out that while cartoons still air on Saturday mornings, they air ALL THE TIME, so Saturday morning is not a very special treat for kids anymore. I remember the first time I discovered Cartoon Network in 1992. It was 11 o’clock at night, I was living in my first apartment, and could not believe my luck when I saw cartoons during a time slot usually reserved for Johnny Carson, news, or sitcom reruns. Even Nickelodeon had “Nick At Nite” at the time, which was basically reruns of shows that used to be on after school. It never occurred to me that this beautiful new thing, 24-hour access to cartoons, would be the beginning of the end of “Saturday Morning Cartoons.”
Maybe it is a commentary on human nature, that the desire for something is more important than the experience of HAVING something. Sometimes possession of something robs you of that sweet longing for it to arrive, for the anticipation. My kids and their friends probably anticipate different things than we did, but there is a clear difference in their media consumption habits. Everything is instant. Everything is accessible. Thus, everything is boring.
Saturday mornings in September had a Christmas-like feeling to them. In late August during the 1970s, it was routine to read comic books to find ads for what new shows the big three networks were offering on Saturday mornings in September. What show would be my new favorite? What new gimmick would they foist on us to ruin Scooby-Doo this year? Who is this Blue Falcon guy? When are they going to give Super Friends actual bad guys to fight? (Ah, the Legion of Doom! Finally! Thank you Saturday morning!) When they announced a cartoon about The Fantastic Four I nearly vibrated cosmic rays with excitement. I’d be looking forward to school starting because it also meant new cartoons were coming. On three networks!!! Wow! THREE!
I remember being six years old, like it was yesterday. At 6 AM, I snuck out onto the terrace in our apartment, where there was a black and white TV. I remember struggling with white snow to get reception. When the opening bars of “Josie And The Pussycats” burst through the static, it was like Christmas morning. I was the beginning of five to seven good uninterrupted hours of cartoons. Heaven.
“I’ll go outside after Fat Albert, Mom!” Yeah, at like, 12:30!
When the Avengers opened last weekend, it was the first time in years that I felt “Saturday Morning Fever.” My wife and kids wanted to see it, I wanted to see it, EVERYONE I know was talking about it. Since I don’t really enjoy sports the way my friends do, Super Bowls and World Series are just not the same thing as that common bond you get with a piece of pop culture like “Avengers.”.
And what is the moral of this story? Sit with your kid, or nephew, or niece, or grandkid, or ring the neighbor’s bell if they have kids, and tell them that “Saturday morning cartoons stink now.” And then go “Nyah!” Then, skip away with the satisfaction that while they can watch a cartoon ANY TIME THEY WANT, you had the glorious pleasure of real Saturday mornings.
What was your Saturday Morning routine? What'd you watch? What'd you eat? What'd you wear? What was your favorite show?