By Loryn Stone
There are fewer experiences more impactful than the ones that happen to us when we’re growing up. Children are sponges, and all memories and pivotal moments are imprinted in our psyche, reading to mold and form us into the men and women of the future. Children are renegade warriors, and what they learn will march the rest of us into a bright and (ideally) progressive and wonderful future.
Unless of course, your children are anything like me and their brains are a conglomerative rot, housing TV commercial jingles, Simpsons quotes, and harbored confusion about childhood cartoons. None of these are more important than the last, especially when out in the real world we’re facing a world of snowballing terror. Therefore, we’re going to focus on cartoons today.
As kids, we often easily accept the story we’re given, as long as it’s easy to understand and simple to digest. But as we age and we re-watch some of the shows we love…we realize that they sometimes just make no sense. And even worse is when they leave us reeling with questions that the move/franchise in question just doesn’t bother to help us answer! Such as when…
Care Bears the Movie 2
The Question: What the hell happened to Dark Heart after the Care Bears and Cousins healed him?
In Care Bears the Movie 2, a horse and a bear are put in charge of a whole mess of care-babies. As they’re sailing across the sea, they’re attacked by an evil red dragon. After they bravely protect all the care-babies, who will grow up to become the Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins (though the cousins are not bears, just roll with it), they are granted special caring powers by the moon. Easy to follow, right?
The bulk of the story takes place on earth, in a summer camp. We follow a girl names Kristy and a set of twins (what did I say about twins last week?) named John and Dawn. Kristy is upset that she’s not the “Camp Champ”, a cute name used for the kid who is the fastest at sports, running, and all activities camp related. The Care Bears head down to earth to give the kids a pep-talk about being true to themselves and all that trash. However, the evil spirit Dark Heart, is still holding a grudge from the last time the Bears kicked his ass and is vowing to get them and all their bogus caring power.
Dark Heart spies on Kristy and is attracted to her angry attitude. He shapeshifts into a boy her age, and together the two of them work together to trap all the Care Bears. It works, and by the end of the movie, we not only see Dark Heart in about a billion different forms, but we see that he’s managed to capture all of the bears and cousins in individual crystals. In the end, he accidentally blasts Kristy (who is trying to save the bears) with his power and feels as guilty as a dude who just punched his girlfriend and doesn’t want the cops called.
With the power of the Care Bears, and endless chants of “We Care!”, Kristy is not only brought back from the dead, but the evil power leaves Dark Heart. His eyes turn blue and he declares himself a real boy. He leaves behind a life of immortality and unlimited shapeshifting power, heads down to summer camp with Kristy and the bears, and enjoys a lazy summer of swimming in pond water and very likely, Care Bear poop.
But now what?
As every kid knows, summer vacation doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the fun stops, you strip off the tee-pee shirt, ride that bus back to the suburbs, and kiss your summer romance goodbye. So…what in the ever-loving hell is going to happen to Dark Heart? Does he even have a regular kid name? He doesn’t have any parent, does he? Does he at least have a benefactor or a trust fund set up so he can travel around the world like a baller? Will he get dragged back to the real world will Kristy, John, and Dawn and get forced to go to school? Wouldn’t you kill a dude just to get your evil powers back? Does Kristy plan on bringing him home and hiding him in her bedroom?
(I will totally write this fan-fiction, friends. Say the word.)
The Question: What sort of trauma is Brian going to experience once his Rainbow Land access is denied?
Rainbow Brite is the story of a warm-weather and color spirit in the form of a child. Once a little girl/chosen one named Wisp, she singlehandedly freed the spites, turned a horse back from stone, found a magic baby, saved the world from darkness, wears the coolest belt in the history of fashion, and was transformed into Rainbow Brite. And while the ultimate evil shadow in a hooded robe was vanquished, there are foils along the way that will keep Rainbow Brite on her toes and make her (and the color kids) work their hardest to ensure that the power of color and love prevail.
Time passes, and the audience is introduced to Brian in the episode “Peril in the Pits”, an eleven-year-old boy who is super bummed that he didn’t make the baseball team. With a glum look on his face and his head hung, he manages to walk his depressed self into a rainbow. The colors stick to him, and Rainbow very willingly rides down from the sky to meet him.
From there, Brian is taken to Rainbow Brite’s home world, Rainbow Land, and is essentially shown all the secrets of the chocolate factory. In fact, in the episode “The Mighty Monstromurk Menace”, Rainbow gives Brian a literal key to Rainbow Land. All he has to do is stick it in a closet door and a rainbow will appear. Brian can then ride the rainbow to Rainbow Land and see Rainbow Brite if she so happens to be home, and if Brian so happens to have the spare time to be bothered to go.
Spoiler: He uses the key five seconds after getting it and almost falls out of the sky.
The show paints the picture that Rainbow Brite, her friends, and her foes are immortal and on an endless loop of bringing color to the world and stopping those who try to oppose her goodness. Just keep those color crystals and star sprinkles safe and everything will be okay. But what about Brian? Will he also become immortal by hanging out in Rainbow Land? Or will he grow up while the girl he cares about never does? And in the movie Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, the cast experiences a long winter that rivals Game of Thrones when Spectra, the diamond planet, is covered with a giant rope so the color can’t come through. Brian learns all of this- everything he’s learned in school about weather patterns and the rotation of the earth is completely contradicted by the magical truths he’s learned.
And he’s not allowed to tell anyone about it. I’m not even sure he realizes that in the end of the movie, he sees a princess blow up in the sky.
And who does Rainbow Brite ultimately choose? Is it Brian, the human boy? Red Butler, the cocky guardian of the Red Star Sprinkles? Or Krys, the warrior space boy of Spectra?
Hint: It’s not Buddy Blue.
The Princess and the Goblin
The Question: We beat the goblins…now what?
The Princess and the Goblin is one of those animated movies of the 90s cursed to the realms of forgotten children’s films. Made during Disney’s peak point of awesome, the American film (animated in Hungary) stood almost no chance of success. It featured stunning painted backgrounds, spectacular character designs, but choppy animation and a lackluster script that just couldn’t compete with the heavy-hitters of the era. It was quickly released to video quietly slipped away to the darkness.
The movie tells the story of a quiet kingdom with a dark secret- banished goblins underground. The goblins refer to the humans on the surface as the Sun People, and they’ve hatched a plan that their goblin prince will marry the human eight-year-old princess Irenie, and tie themselves to the kingdom. The goblins are planning a coup to attack the castle, only foiled by the discovery of a twelve-year-old miner named Curdie. Because Curdie is a peasant, his people are well aware of the stories of the goblins. They even see the evil goblin pets roaming the forests often and drive them away with their singing. But the people of the palace are blissfully unaware of the dangers roaming the kingdom.
I loved this movie so much as a kid and was so embarrassed to admit it. I loved Curdie with his lantern and his Spark Inside Us song. I loved Rick Mayall as the goblin prince Frog Lip, and his possessive mother The Goblin Queen (whose makeup is part Pearl Forrester and part Israeli grandmother). And eventually, years later, I read and loved the original 1872 book by George MacDonald.
But after a lackluster final battle that teeters less on exciting and more on creepy, Prince Frog Lip lurks up to Princess Irenie’s room and kidnaps her. The goblins flood the mines and in turn, the castle. In a cheap scene that’s only about two shots deep, Curdie gets into a fight with the goblin prince, pulls at his face, stamps on his feet (the goblins’ only physical weakness) and sends him off a castle wall.
And then…none of the goblins are ever shown again. For a movie called The Princess and the Goblin, this movie gives zero wrap up to the goblins. George McDonald must have agreed, because he wrote a mature post-puberty sequel to the story called The Princess and Curdie. But what the movie leaves us with is a flooded castle and a missing society.
But hey, underage romance- compromise is important.
Lady Lovely Locks and the Pixietails
The Question: What exactly is the conflict in this world?
Lady Lovely Locks is another one of those 1980s franchises that is a toy line, then a cartoon, as was a popular trend at the time. What with Rainbow Brite, Moon Dreamers, My Little Pony, Care Bears, and Strawberry Shortcake, these kinds of worlds were truly everywhere.
But while many other shows made obvious efforts to develop the world their characters inhabit, I was left confused by Lady Lovely Locks when I saw her as a child. In fact, the show always read less like a hero story and more like a lovers-spat.
Lady Lovely Locks is the blonde-haired princess of The Kingdom of Lovely Locks. She has three squirrel-like creatures that hang out in her hair, two maiden friends named Fair Hair and Curly Crown, a blind sorcerer, a dog friend and a horse friend (Think it’s time to roll call all the cartoon horses next?) and a cursed prince in dog form that can Tuxedo Mask into his human form and save her whenever Lady Lovely Locks is in trouble.
The antagonists in this story are weak at best. The only villain present is an angry black-haired girl named Duchess Raven Waves. She travels with her own version of the Pixietails called the Comb Gnomes, and a small ugly dude named Hair Ball, who once apprenticed under Shining Glory, the blind sorcerer. The only ongoing evil theme I remember from the show is Raven Waves obsession with cutting Lady Lovely Locks hair.See the scissors in the screen shot? This girl means business. She was somehow convinced that if she cut off a piece of Lady’s hair, she could somehow control the kingdom.
And do what, exactly?
Fortunately, there were only 20 episodes of this show made and I don’t ever remember it being on TV. The only place I ever saw it was in the bargain bin at Pic N Save, which is exactly where it belonged. Now, if the show had overt LGBT themes and there was some kind of sordid past between Lady and Raven, that’s a show I could excitedly get behind.
(I’m looking at you again, fan fiction friends. Let’s make things happen)
Stop the Smoggies
The Question: Does anyone else remember this piece of shit?
Stop the Smoggies is another anti-littering propaganda cartoon from the early 90s, without any of the charm and nostalgic feels of Captain Planet. It was a disjointed cartoon, (with a nearly 2 minute long opening theme) half magical utopia of immortal troll-smurf-creatures with a cute red-haired princess (ala Princess Peach, anyone?), and half “three morons trying to dump garbage in the ocean for no reason.”
THIS IS NOT THIS!
I was one of those 5am kids that parents hate, and therefore ignored until sunrise. That meant the TV was my bitch and alongside it, those weird cartoons that were aired before 6am. I’d written Smoggies off as nothing more than a fever dream. But once I realized that my memory didn’t fail me completely, I managed to piece together this stupid show.
Answer me this, Smoggies- what grown adults have a constant vendetta against the damn ocean? Like, why would you go out of your way to dump nuclear sludge in there? And if you made it to a strange eternal island where these troll-smurf creatures are using renewable energies to keep the world clean…why would you deem them your foils? Why are they your enemy? You’ve just seen magic at work? Why are you still shitting in the ocean?
I guess the Canadian studio Cinar couldn’t answer these questions either, not even after owning the 90s with Are You Afraid of the Dark? Because they folded in 2000 and went on to form Cookie Jar. And while the internet is jizzing for a Captain Planet reboot, let’s hope we can leave Stop the Smoggies in the recycling bin.
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