I was born in 1961, which makes me fifty years old. My first great passion in life was Popeye. No one can say why. It gave me an affection for spinach. As a small child, I called Olive-Oyl Olive Water. Again, no one can say why. Watching Popeye at a more enlightened age taught me that Olive was a serious bitch, encouraging the boys to fight for no apparent reason.
During the sixties and seventies, hard as it is to imagine today, there were exactly five television stations to choose from. Three networks, an independent station and PBS. On those five channels, at any given time, there was perhaps a three-percent chance of seeing an animated television show, almost all of those occurring on Saturday morning during the four hours from seven to eleven. Ninety percent of those cartoons were crap. The rest were mostly Bugs Bunny. I watched intense amounts of television during my early years and always preferred the cartoons no one was showing. Despite their being shit and never being on, they were the best thing television had to offer.
With the advent of cable, video recording, computers, DVRs and Blockbuster, access to cartoons has improved more than I, as a child, ever dreamed possible. I have never stopped watching cartoons. If it weren’t for MST3K, I would watch almost nothing else.
Animation allowed television to be imaginative. Storylines were never limited to the possible and, in fact, embraced the fantastic. This, for me, has always been the greatest appeal of cartoons. Whatever can be dreamed can be realized. No amount of realism could ever compete with that freedom.
CGI has given realistic film the ability to add this fantasy component without sacrificing realism. It isn’t the same. It isn’t as good. Animation will always be my preferred video format. Realism is a limitation. I don’t need limits.