Sympathy for the Dysfunctional: the American cartoons that ate the world
Thursday 08 April 1999
Hank Hill may be a red-neck, but he has a heart of gold. He is struggling with traditional Southern values, modern masculinity and a son thicker than old molasses. His friends are paranoid survivalists and he is the world's most stubborn propane salesman. But like The Simpsons, this multicultural and confused vision of small-town America is more honest than anything you will ever see starring real Americans. Key Hank Hill quote: "I'd rather die with a burger in my colon than live and eat tofu."
Now they're major movie stars, claims that the Rugrats are subversives can be discounted. However, this low-angle, high-tone satire of adult hierarchy, venality, vanity, vulnerability and dinosaur-dependency is acutely observed, despite its mainly-for-kids feel-good vibe. The good guys are morally dependable, if shrill; the bad gal is incredibly shrill, manipulative and morally bankrupt. Post-Freudian America as it prefers to see itself. Key Angelica quote: "You dumb babies!" Key Chuckie quote: "Tommy, I'm scaaaaared!"
Only a cartoon as sick as this can do justice to the trash end of America's culture. It satirises all the fare of the supermarket tabloid, from alien abductions to diet plans, with crazy Vietnam Vets and C-list celebrities. Some of it is plain weird: one show had a dancing "Christmas poo" tackling anti-Semitism. Key quote: "Oh my God, they killed Kenny."
It's questionable whether MTV's two sniggering teens satirise anything at all, apart from sniggering teens. Beavis and Butthead simply portray the life of pubescent grunts, heavy metal and death worship. If cartoon dogs Ren and Stimpy are more anarchy than satire, Beavis and Butthead are their nihilistic owners. Key Beavis and Butthead quote: "Huh-huh-huh huh-huh-ahuh."
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 3 Dakota Johnson's 'It's only Isis' Saturday Night Live sketch sparks controversy
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
EastEnders may bring transgender character to Albert Square to challenge 'traditional' viewers
Spectre: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming James Bond movie
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how Corporation is funded