The Sadness of Cartoon Nostalgia
I sent my sister that link to the weird, 1974 Japanese animated version of Jack and the Beanstalk… and we started talking about some of the other cartoons we used to watch as kids.
When I think back to those cartoons – most of them were on VHS. And the distinct emotion that I have on remembering them is: sadness. They all seemed to be tinged with an unhappy association.
One video in particular was a animated version of Family Circus, where the kids set about creating Valentine’s Day cards for their parents. I think something happened with the youngest, PJ, and the other kids decided they would build some kind of epic Valentine for the mom and dad on his behalf.
When I say “build,” I really do mean build – they were down in the basement, constructing this large valentine out of nails and 2×4’s. And the thing that’s distinctive in my mind is that right before the parents return home and open the door… the family dog jumps through the valentine, utterly destroying it.
Another cartoon I remember is a live-action adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels, featuring Richard Harris. I vaguely remember this one, but as I was watching it on YouTube… I rewatched the ending, and it fits the same criteria of sadness for me.
The full film is available online, but it’s the end that gets me. After leaving Lilliput, Gulliver ges help from Blefuscu where the inhabitants there construct a boat to fit his enormous size.
I know it’s meant to be a whimsical ending, and perhaps a cliffhanger meant to tease the continuation of Gulliver’s Travels… but it’s just depressing! After everything he goes through, it just seems like he’s back at square one. And as a kid, that just filled me with a great deal of sadness.