Why the 1970s were the worst time for animation?
You know how animation has a tendency to have a worst time period in history? Animation has been through different eras. Disney was in the golden age of animation by releasing Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Flintstones kick started an animated TV sitcom trend in the silver age in the 1960s and Tom and Jerry/Looney Tunes cartoons were in the era where cartoons were aired in the theaters. The point I’m trying to make is that animation has been in interesting periods in history. Which will bring us to the 70’s known as the Dark ages of animation. If you like the cartoons from the 70’s that’s great. The reason why the 1970s were the claimed the dark ages of animation is because of three things:
- Actions for Childrens Television Act of 1968
In 1968, an activist named Peggy Charren established the Actions for Childrens Television Act, which came into fruition when she and a couple of “concerned” parents protested over the violence of cartoons in television. What they did was utilized a lot of strict rules for Saturday Morning Cartoons. 1. Obvious rule is No Violence or any action presented in cartoons. 2. More education content/diversity in cartoons 3. Remove any conflict in animation.
While all of these rules are not bad, these rules were the result of cartoons at that time being toned down in violence, having stupid plots/stories, and having pointless celebrity cartoons.
- “Animation is for kids”
The animation being for kids aspect has been used since forever, even to this day. However, this was more heavily used during this time period because before the 1970’s, animation was aimed both at kids and adults. The Flintstones and Tom and Jerry while children could watch it, they had writing and humor suitable for adults as well. But ever since the Saturday Morning Cartoons were established in the 1960s, it was aimed at kids who want to watch cartoons on a Saturday morning while parents are sleeping. In the 1970s, 95% of cartoons i.e The Brady Kids, Jackson 5, Yogi’s Gang, etc were made strictly for kids. People thought that because animated content was made for kids, they don’t have to try making quality content due to it being stigmatized as something only kids can watch. This is a battle that is still being fought by animation fans/purists like myself because Animation is a medium designed for everybody, not just kids. As this quote from Guillermo de Toro that made Pinocchio says….
- Walt Disney’s Death/Closing of Looney Tunes Studios
Walt Disney died on December 5, 1966. Before Disney died, the Walt Disney Company was making some of the greatest animated movies that spawned a generation. It was his input and vision that made these Disney Movies amazing, and for everyone. But ever since he died, the company was struggling to make movies without him. Which would lead them in the dark ages of the company. The movies that were made post Walt were rough in animation, aimed at only for children, and were playing it safe in stories and action.
Animation goes through various cycles and phases in each generation. While this was the worst period in time for animation, it is a reminder of people to appreciate not just cartoons that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to recognize animation as an art form/something to be taken seriously. If you want to look at the good things about 70s animation, look at Ralph Bashkis adult animated movies, Charlotte’s Web, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and more. I know some people dislike 80’s and even 2010’s cartoons, because they don’t really match the standards of the great 90’s cartoons as well as cartoons from the golden age. Well, whether you dislike 80’s cartoons or not, the 80s did have Ronald Regan deregulating the rules from the Actions for children’s Television Act a little by utilizing violence and action as long it has a message in every episode. While this result did lead to a plethora of cartoons based off toys, these cartoons did make profit and room for some action/actual plots in cartoons, i.e. Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Thundercats, etc. The end result of this has led to animation entering an renaissance in the mid-80s with Disney’s Gummi Bears, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and The Little Mermaid. And from then on, animation would dominate the 90s era with being in a renaissance having high quality animated films and shows again
1 thought on “Why the 1970s were the worst time for animation?”
You laid things out quite well and made them accessible. I honestly wasn’t aware of the Actions for Children’s Television Act. However, I think you could have gone a bit more depth into some of these aspects, such as how ACTA operated to have their demands taken into effect, and maybe provided some quotes from people in the animation industry who were impacted by these changes. Also there were a few formatting issues – the del Toro quote is missing and there’s nothing on the Warner Bros. animation department closing.