Home > only slightly ranty, Random Musings, Stories from Childhood > Magic Unicorns, Hugging all the Animals, and Other Memories

Magic Unicorns, Hugging all the Animals, and Other Memories

When I was a kid, I was sick a lot. There were weeks spent lounging, pathetically, on the couch in the family room. There is pictorial evidence of how pathetic I looked when I was sick. No, that will not make it onto this blog. Suffice to say that once, I had pneumonia, and the medication I was given for it turned my tongue black and fuzzy. This was at Christmas. I resembled a small, brunette Crypt Keeper, whose tongue had turned into a demonic muppet. It wasn’t a good look for me.

Where was I? Right. Sick kid. So, my mom used to rent me a lot of movies to keep me occupied. When she wasn’t looking, of course, I’d sneak off the couch and onto the floor, where the cat (that I was allergic to) would lie on my stomach, purring contentedly. What? Try keeping me away from something cute and flurry. I dare you. *wink*

This was, of course, back before DVDs, during the Dark Ages of VHS and *gasp* VIDEO STORES. There was a local video store about five minutes from our house, run by a couple. Mrs. S was the sweetest woman alive. Mr. S, however, was a bit…off. He ran the register is the store section (it was a combination convenience store and video store). Imagine walking up to pay for your things and spying an adult man with a piece of printer paper TAPED to his shirt. He rarely used scotch tape, mind you, but favored duct or electrical tape (that latter did not stick well). Anyway, scrawled in marker on this homemade sign would be the lotto jackpot total. And the price of a lottery ticket. Without fail, Mr. S would ask, at least three times, if my mother wanted to buy a lottery ticket. Never in my life has my mother ever bought a lottery ticket. But let me tell you, it was really difficult to keep a straight face.

The point? Right. They had a variety of movies I could never rent anywhere else. One was The Magic Pony. Another was my favorite: Unico. Unico was a manga cartoon, before I even knew what that was, about a tiny unicorn. It is also the first appearance of Hello Kitty, which is pretty neat. Anyway, it is about as cheesy awesome as it sounds. Unico is all about being kind and making friends. I know this because I recently got the sequel on DVD. (Don’t look at me like that. I don’t care if I am twenty-nine. You can’t take away my cartoons.)

And I watched it last night. The little unicorn just wanted to be nice to everyone. He wanted to be friends with anyone who crossed his path. He was out to do good and get hugs. After watching it, I realized that between a childhood of that movie and the CareBears, it explains a lot about me. I can be tough when I have to be. I have a spine. I get angry.

But my default is always to be nice. It’s always to hug a lost dog or cat. (Rescued the neighbor’s dog TWICE last week. Poor old thing was tottering toward the road.) It’s silly to think that cartoons influence children in such instrumental ways, but I really think that affected me. Even She-Ra and He-Man had morals at the end of the cartoons.

Which got me to thinking about today’s cartoons. Admittedly, I don’t watch a lot of them, but I wonder if that moral-of-the-story bit has fallen by the wayside. If it has, it strikes me as a bit of a shame. I think kids need that, especially with the rampant lack of parental influence and presence that is so prevalent these days. (Sweeping generalization!)

Watching the sequel to Unico made me a little nostalgic. I kind of have the urge to dye my hair pink, slap on some star earrings, and sing. (Jem, anyone?) But I suppose if I do that, it’ll have to wait until Halloween. Until then, I’ll be over here, watching a tiny magic unicorn and remembering that time I had to walk twelve miles, uphill, in the SNOW, barefoot — just to rent a video. Which then incurred late fees.

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  1. October 17, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Some cartoons seem to still have that sweet moral added on. Though others have questionable morals. I’ve really limited the time spent watching SpongeBob after that episode where he killed a man. I would have banned it altogether but sometimes explaining to your family your child isn’t supposed to be watching that cartoon no one thinks is bad. I have successfully been able to ban Fish Hooks though, yay for parental controls.

    • October 17, 2011 at 10:51 am

      I can’t edit, but I forgot to mention that my daughter also likes a lot of older cartoons. She loves the Care Bears movies from the 80’s. She likes a lot of movies/cartoons from way before her time.
      Also just have to mention that there is nothing wrong with watching cartoons at any age. My 70-something grandfather still watches cartoons.

      • October 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

        My jaw just dropped. SpongeBob KILLED someone?!?! I…don’t know how to respond to that. Granted, Loony Tunes were always violent, but nobody died in them. *shakes head* That is a bit much for a kid’s show. As far as your daughter — she is awesome. Long live the CareBears! *grin* And I am now an official fan of your grandpa. 🙂

  2. October 17, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Anyone that mentions BOTH Jem and She-Ra in a blog post will has my undying support. I will have to check out Unico, though. Your story made me think of my own sick days, camped out on the sofa with a tissue box, a cup of Seven-Up, and four hours of Gone With the Wind.
    Some of today’s cartoons are just plain odd. I try to gear my kids toward the ones that I understand, such as the Justice League and Spongbob (ok, sometimes I don’t understand that either.) And there’s always PBS. Moral AND educational!

    • October 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

      Gone with the Wind was an EXCELLENT sick movie! Also, 7up! I used to drink that, too. The bubbles felt good, if I had a sore throat. Also, let me know how you like Unico. It is super-cheesy, but wonderful.

  3. October 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

    How did I never see Unico? I did, however, know the gal who did Jem’s voice. You know you’re impressed.

    • October 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

      I *am* impressed! 🙂 (I SO wanted to be Jem as kid.) Thanks for reading!!! 🙂

  4. October 17, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I think there’s a fear that if you put morals into stories (be they MG/YA novels, cartoons, or movies), you’ll end up being “preachy” and no-one likes being preached to (apparently). However, I say it can be done if it’s done well–and it often *is* done unknowingly. J. K. Rowling claims she never intentionally put a “moral to the story” in the Potter books, but those books are loaded with messages about behavior and attitudes.

    Speaking of modern cartoons, I’ve got to plug Phineas and Ferb. In my opinion, Disney can dump everything they currently show and just play re-runs of Phineas and Ferb all day, and it would make a 500% improvement on their programming. The show is funny (downright hilarious, actually), family-friendly, but also has important values. Phineas and Ferb are step-brothers, but there’s a strong sibling love between them, and they often acknowledge their reliance on one another. Even the “bad” guys are nice (Buford the bully is always willing to help out, and Professor Doofenshmirtz gives evil a bad name!). Anyway, my point here is that good messages and morals can still permeate cartoons, if the writers do a good job of couching them in entertaining ways. A spoonful of sugar… 🙂

    Another great post, Alison. Any post that provokes a couple of paragraphs out of me in a comment box has to be good! 🙂

    • October 17, 2011 at 11:52 am

      I think that when there’s a moral, kids just sort of…take it in. When I used to watch He-Man, the moral at the end didn’t even hit my radar. It was just part of the show. But you bring a good point, with Harry Potter. Whether or not Rowlings intended morals in her story, they’re there. And I will check out Phineas and Ferb. The name amuses me greatly. *grin* Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I’m glad that you liked this entry.

  5. October 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Wow, were we ALL sick as children? Mine was actually rheumatic fever, which meant they had to keep me QUIET for fear my heart would develop a murmur (murmer? mermer? damn they all look wrong today), which it didn’t exactly – more of a situational syncopation. What was I saying?

    Oh, yeah – sickness. I am oh-so-much older than you, there were NO VHS tapes. There were only 4 channels on the TV. Scary, yes? So I was kept quiet with books. The Secret Garden took me a long time to read, as I recall, although I blasted my way through The Call of the Wild and Black Beauty. And no furry friends to cuddle. My mom was anti-pet. I had a stuffed dog that I hugged.

    I must tell you, however, my 19-year old son is totally hooked on My Little Pony – Friendship is Magic. When he first confessed this, he swore me to secrecy, but I see him talking about it on Facebook, so the cat must be out of the bag.

    And SpongeBob didn’t really kill a man. He just thought he did. It was Mr. Krab’s fault for making him panic. Is it weird that I know this?

    • October 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      I remember that episode but there was another too. Though to be fair it was Bubble Buddy’s fault, SpongeBob buried the surfer guy in the sand, and Bubble Buddy was supposed to dig him out. Later in the episode the surfer’s ghost shows up to complain about Bubble Buddy with the crowd. He said “He made me experience high tide” and then floats upwards. I blame SpongeBob for it myself even though later on in the episode Bubble Buddy ends up proving he’s alive and walks away. Still though that is one episode that I always turn off if it comes on. It bothers me.

      • October 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm

        Arg, hate the lack of edit option. “technically Bubble Buddy’s fault”

  6. October 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Reading your blog made me smile! Thank you!!

    • October 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

      Right back at you! *grin* Thank you for the compliment, Ana!

  7. October 27, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Ali, I can SO relate to being sick all the time as a kid. Including the pneumonia deal. I had two favorite stuffed animals: a penguin and a bear. The bear was Misha – the official mascot of the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow, complete with the five-color belt and olympic rings.

    • October 28, 2011 at 7:41 am

      I love the name Misha! *smile* Thank you, Maria, for sharing a bit of your childhood. I appreciate you taking the time to comment!

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