70 Years of Tom & Jerry
The Loveable Old Tom & Jerry Cartoons
(Written for and first published at Delhilive.com on 5th April 2010)
If there is one TV show in my house that every member agrees to watch without argument or demur, it would have to be Tom and Jerry cartoons. I confess to having gifted my husband a collection of Tom and Jerry VCDs (DVDs had not fully arrived then) on our first wedding anniversary, so it is little wonder that when our kids (aged 6 and nearly 4) are watching the show, we happily settle down with them to share a few chortles.
The basic premise of natural enemies of cat and mouse (with the occasional bumbling bull dog thrown in) is explored in so many different and endlessly amusing ways that Tom & Jerry cartoons never seem to get stale. Some of the delightful characters from these cartoons have become the stuff of toon legend. Jerry’s little cousin who is unafraid of Tom, the little injured duck that Jerry looks after are adorable still! Thanks to these cartoons, I often find my kids humming snatches of Tchaikovsky and Mozart, because the sound tracks used for Tom and Jerry are often beautiful classical pieces (like the ice skating waltz pieces).
But Tom & Jerry have changed too
Like all good things though, these cartoon have also undergone the inevitable and lamentable changes to keep up with the times. So whereas you earlier had the feuding cat, mouse and dog content to battle one another, now they travel to space, there is the rather dreadful Tom and Jerry Kids and Tom and Jerry Tales and heaven known what else. The earlier humor and innocent idiocy as visualized by the original creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera seem to have disappeared.
Some of the 'modern' cartoons are ghastly
The classic Tom & Jerry cartoon do much to relieve the tedium of the plethora of Japanese-dubbed-in-Hindi kind of show that crowd children’s channels these days. With the same shrill voice overs and strangely chaste Hindi, these are fairly difficult to stomach. Even other shows that are supposed to be for kids, one has to wonder about the sanity of the creators: who are these shows made for!
Some of the ‘cartoon’ characters are so hideous as to be actually scary. There is violence, the characters are frankly sexually dressed; so really one wonders whom these shows are created for? And weren’t cartoons supposed to be funny and entertaining? They lost the plot somewhere it would seem.
Indian ‘mythological’ cartoons?
As for the Indian so called ‘mythological’ cartoons, that is another long lament that parents have: there is the execrable Chota Bheem which is supposed to be set in a time two thousand years ago, yet they play Twenty20 cricket, wear helmets, use plastic bottles write in the English script and are visited by people in time machines. Then there are the skateboarding Ganesh and Maruti my friend that bear absolutely no resemblance to the valorous gods that crores of Indians revere.
So in this sea of unwatchable ‘children’s’ programmes it is reassuring to find the cat that routinely chases the mouse and finds hundred different ways to get bludgeoned and misshapen and frozen and thawed and reconstituted after being vivisected. It is old fashioned cartoons that are silly and amusing and enjoyable even 70 years after they first made their appearance!