OK, to cut the story short, I am now the proud, but somewhat gender-confused owner of the "My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic" series.
Accompanied by strong drink to steady my nerves and banish all thought of suicide from my head as I did so, I've seen about seventeen episodes so far.
Yeah, you know what? They're really good.
Basically, I didn't know that much of the same team who was behind "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" was responsible for MLPFIM - which I will from now on pronounce as "Milpfim." Because that sounds awesome.
The thing is, very few cartoons are actually amusing. Consider some old classics, like Thundercats or TMNT. Now take off those rose-colored glasses. Yeeaah, they're kinda crap, aren't they? Well, something more modern, like Sonic X (lol) or Ben 10.
Oh, wait, the ultimate example: Hannah Montana. TRY to watch that.
Remember those scenes where a character would make an utterly pathetic pun, but the whole cast erupts in laughter, usually just before the ending credits?
How many times did you actually laugh? I don't just mean now, I mean as a kid. Though a good cartoon should also be appealing to adults; or at least the humor should bridge the gap between adult and child, so it genuinely appeals to the older kids as well as guides them all to a more mature, subtle sense of humor.
This is true about everything to do with children's entertainment. It should all be about bridging that gap, especially given that gap is not as substantial as people seem to think. After all, the next generation is being raised on these shows, right? This is about the quality of the culture they will be growing up in. More on that some other day.
Besides, come on: when the movie comes out, the kids have to go see it with their parents.
"You're dead if you aim only for kids. Adults are only kids grown up, anyway." — Walter Elias Disney.
Listen to the man, he knows more than you.
But back on topic. Both MLP, and Foster's are genuinely amusing. Perhaps not laugh-out-loud hilarious all the time, though both shows have definitely gotten a few guffaws out of me. Simply put, this crew understands that you need to make the humor actually humorous, not just hope the kids will laugh when the cast bursts into its obligatory family-time bullshit laughter - because, here's a secret: they never do.
Japanese anime does this perhaps worse. Believe me, guys, seeing the lame "straight-guy routine" for the twentieth time in an episode, in every single god-damn shonen anime out there, is just not as funny as you think. By the way, the "straight-guy" is not what you think, folks.
There's this strange disconnect between real humor and what we see in a lot of shows for children - then we complain that kids don't have a refined sense of humor. In my experience, kids have a better grasp of humor than the people writing Hannah Montana seem to.
The teams behind "The Grim Adventures of Bill and Mandy", "MLP", "Foster's" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender" don't seem afflicted by this strange obliviousness.
Again, this is something I want to revisit later on in a properly written essay (again, lol), but basically: don't be surprised that kids are gravitating to asinine, possibly dangerous sub-cultures that advocate irresponsible drinking, drug use and worse. The "age appropriate" entertainment is NOT age appropriate, especially not for boys.
Definitely got a lot of respect for Lauren Faust and the MLP team. This is a great kids show, and it's with great irony that I applaud the creators, given the internet popularity of MLP is due to a treatise about "the death of creator driven property."
It's the skill and wit of MLP's 'creators' that makes it so many cuts above the average.
I don't consider myself a "brony" but I do confess I see where the show's popularity comes from. Frankly, if you like this, go watch the other ones I mentioned there, particularly "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends." There are some good shows out there if you're looking for some mindless entertainment like this.