CARTOON CAPERS by Maya Chandrasekaran

Tired? Stressed? Do you need a break from the routine? Well here’s the perfect solution. No, this is not a commercial for some energy pill or yoga classes. I just wanted to talk about one of my favourite forms of entertainment - cartoons.

Yes, I’m talking about cartoons, those moving pictured that are associated with kids, but what I want to know is, why? What is it that other programmes have that cartoons don’t? Humour? I’m not even going to dignify that question with an answer. Drama? High Tragedy? Have you ever seen a Captain Planet cartoon? Love and Grand Passion? - Popeye, Olive Oyl and Bluto, the quintessential love triangle. Horror, mystery and suspense? - The Scooby Doo Show. And for being downright weird and wacky, The Addams Family takes the cake.

So why not watch a cartoon? They have a number of advantages over your favourite soap opera - for one thing, they’re episodic, so even if you miss one episode, you needn’t start having withdrawal symptoms; for another, the characters and plot don’t keep changing every few months. Tom is still Tom, and Jerry is still Jerry, and the two still drive each other nuts; and finally, the characters in cartoons are simple to understand. Tom hates Jerry, and that’s that. There’s no need to analyze their motives. In a soap opera, on the other hand, one would be forced to ponder, "Why does Tom hate Jerry? Do you think that many years ago there was a bitter family feud? Or maybe Jerry eloped with Tom’s sister? Or maybe Tom’s long lost brother…?" and so on.

True, cartoons and soaps do have some similarities : in both , characters die improbable deaths, only to return to the screen in the next episode; and both of them are funny, though it is doubtful if the soaps were actually meant to be humourous.

And anyone doing research on criminal mentalities must definitely watch cartoons. Cartoon Bad Men are personalities. They’re evil, they’re larger than life, they’re cruel, and they laugh deep, wicked, sinister laughs, but other than this, they don’t seem to get much done. True, they threaten at regular intervals, to cause destruction and chaos, annihilate the human race, and take over the world, but they’re fairly poor at keeping their word (not unlike some politicians we know). For example, let’s say Hooded Claw (isn’t that a pretty name?) has finally captured Penelope Pitstop. Does he just shoot her and be done with it? No, he chains her to the wall, and attaches a string which is kept above a lit candle. When the flame burns through the string, a door will drop somewhere, and water will gush into the room until Penelope is drowned (didn’t I tell you it was complicated?). Anyway, by the time this complex apparatus starts working, Penelope has been rescued and the poor villain is back to square one. It must be fairly frustrating for them, but atleast they must be given credit - they’re a persistent bunch!

And ever notice how all cartoon characters travel around completely equipped at all times, with guns, bombs, chain saws and dynamite. They obviously prepare for all contingencies.

No, cartoons are not for the childish. They’re for the childlike - the people who can still enjoy the simpler things in life; the people who don’t need Dolby Sound and computer animated tornadoes and volcanoes to appreciate good entertainment.

And besides, laughing is supposed to be good exercise - it’s known as internal jogging. Everytime you give a deep belly laugh, or a guffaw, you can think smugly of all the calories you’re burning.

So next time you’re feeling tired or depressed, put on the T.V., suspend your disbelief, and sit down to enjoy some quality time with T.C. (Top Cat) and his world famous wisecracks.