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."
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
Arts & Ents blogs
- 2 California man brutally beat 82-year-old Sikh grandfather he mistook for 'one of those people'
- 3 School kitchen manager 'fired from Colorado school for giving hungry students free lunches'
- 4 Gay teenager 'forced to have sex with his own mother' to 'cure' his homosexuality, campaigners in India say
- 5 Charles Kennedy 'had better judgement drunk than many sober politicians' says Ian Hislop
Syd Barrett's inner visions
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Simon Cowell 'feels like an idiot' after Jules and Matisse scandal
Game of Thrones season 6: George RR Martin doing 'anything he can' to get new book The Winds of Winter out before next HBO series airs
Game of Thrones, Battle of Hardhome: 20-minute Wildlings versus White Walkers battle took a 'solid month' to film
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 9, The Dance of Dragons: Jon Snow returns to The Wall after epic Battle of Hardhome
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
Russian 'aggression' sees Poland rearm its military as minister warns: 'We must be ready'