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“You mad?”: On Adult Anger Over Rebooted Cartoons

“You mad?”: On Adult Anger Over Rebooted Cartoons

Why you so angry? Every time a cartoon series is rebooted, anger from adults completely overshadows the fact that these reboots and spin-offs are actually pretty entertaining.

Focusing mainly on the principle network, Cartoon Network, we can do a real deep dive into some of the more popular yet hated reboots or spin-offs of “our” cartoons.

Before we start here are three things we need to remember about cartoons.

  1. They are primarily created for the entertainment of children.
  2. You cannot own something you didn’t create, pay for or invest in directly. So claiming that reboots ruin “your” or “our” cartoons is out of control.
  3. MONEY RUNS EVERYTHING! Cartoons included.

While the target audience for cartoons is usually children, a well created and animated story can catch the imagination of adults as well. Steven Universe, for example, wraps powerful lessons on identity and kindness in a beautiful package. Never-mind the fact that its adult fans make up one of the most toxic fandoms there are. While cartoons are created for children there are no rules against adults enjoying them as well.

The issues arise when this idea of ownership comes into play. When we enjoy something and devote time to watching, learning and becoming a fan, we are given this false sense that we are the reason these shows exist. While that may be truer of the target audience, you, an adult, own no part of something just because you enjoy it. Baffling news, I know.

One would think that an entire generation being berated and belittled for being lazy underachievers who whine about everything would try to keep a low profile. But god forbid someone brings up “Teen Titans: Go” or “The Powerpuff Girls”. Many an embarrassing twitter tirade has come across our timelines picking apart any and every part of a reboot. Or how badly we miss “the good version”. There is never an attempt made to sit back and say, maybe this isn’t for me? Maybe I’m too old to be this triggered over a cartoon? (yikes) Most times it really is as simple as not watching something if you don’t like it.

Besides the sometimes valid arguments against reboots and spin-offs, there’s the fact that most are successful in their own right and stand apart from their originals. Behold exhibit A, Teen Titans: Go. DC released the gritty original, Teen Titans, on Cartoon Network in 2003. A year when the larger and older chunk of millennials were encroaching their teenage years. Teen Titans was sometimes fun but an overall dark cartoon pushing the maturity level in storytelling for younger audiences. When Cartoon Network announced a spin-off in 2014, the internet went up in flames.

Riding off the popularity of the original and the seemingly forgotten DC Nation Shorts, the spin-off allows the cartoon to behave as a cartoon. With a complete overhaul on art style, graphics, and story; we’re given the mostly plot-less but quirky and entertaining cartoon. It doesn’t rank very high alongside the original. No thanks to critics yearning for a complete carbon copy of the original setting the bar for its success obscenely high.

Despite no one giving the cartoon a chance to succeed on it’s own, Teen Titans: Go took their characters to the big screen and reformed even the most vehement of naysayers. The certified fresh ranking for Teen Titans Go! To The Movies proves that the cartoon is more than a fart joke pioneered and plot-less animation. They just needed more than twenty three minutes to prove it.

Cartoon Network set out with their pleasantly full pockets and their high from TT Go!’s success and continued rebooting shows. The Powerpuff Girls got the reboot treatment in 2016 complete with new artwork and voices. This reboot stayed much closer to it’s original but still didn’t satisfy the bitchiest of adults. Again looking into a cartoon that was rebooted for the enjoyment of younger audiences and dragging it through the mud.

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The list of rebooted cartoons that either sparkled or fell flat against its original is long and painful. Cartoon Network tried, failed and tried again, over and over. All the while raking in money and more or less ignoring the grating cries of thirty year-old’s who seemingly haven’t discovered adult cartoons or flesh and blood television shows. Let alone grasping an understanding of when something, like an entire network, isn’t marketed or even setup for them anymore. The world of cartoons has existed on a steady diet of new shows, reboots, and spin-offs for much longer than anyone can really remember. I mean, does no one remember the upwards of ten Scooby-Doo spin-offs we had? No generation is safe!

Rather than going red in the face arguing against reboots, that time would be better used helping fresh cartoons have their time. Networks understand the language of green, as in money. Getting them to see value in an original idea goes far beyond a good pitch and into the question of how much money will it bring in? There are hundreds of artists, animators and storytellers looking to bring us gems like Adventure Time, Steven Universe  and The Amazing World of Gumball. But it’s up to us to pull ourselves away from nostalgic reboots that won’t deliver and support up and coming shows with everything we have.

Now go forth and try not to think about how bad this Rugrats reboot will be.

What Cartoon reboots do you secretly love? Know an animator, artist or writer pushing for a new show? Drop some kickstarters and pilots!

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