Sunday, March 8, 2009

How many of you were hit on the heads with mallets last week?

My daughter's really into Donald Duck right now, so I've watched about five thousand Donald Duck cartoons on youtube in the last week or so. Believe it or not, they all seem to follow a similar formula: Donald does something to piss off some kind of woodland creature, then they get revenge on him.

In the past week, I've seen Donald fall from a 30 foot tree, plummet from several cliffs, and be exploded countless times. As I was watching him run his sled into a tree stump masked by a snowman, I couldn't help but think of my patients who ended up with serious brain or spinal cord injuries because they hit a tree on the ski slopes. As Donald made impact with the tree, I winced as I thought about broken bones, halo vests, intubation, central lines...

But none of that happens in the cartoon. Obviously. Slamming into a tree at 60 MPH definitely is an annoyance to Donald, but the only thing he appeared to damage in the accident was the winter coat he was wearing. (The winter coat was destroyed virtually beyond repair.) When a bunch of ants pushed him off a 100 foot cliff to get at his picnic basket, he yelled out in fury and climbed right back up the cliff to get revenge on those ants. When ten sticks of dynamite explode in his face, he just adjusts his beak and moves on.

Yes, I know cartoons are not supposed to be realistic, but this is really beginning to bother me. It disturbs me not just as a mother who wants my daughter to know the consequences of violence, but also as a doctor who has seen countless veterans with severe permanent brain injury from IED blasts. I need to see Donald experience the consequences of his actions in some way. I mean, they don't have to show him on a ventilator, but if he falls off a cliff, at least show him limping a little in the next scene.

And for the record, a second head bonk is NOT a cure for brain injury.


  1. Some limping would be good. Were older cartoons just more violent? I'm trying to think of current shows Joles loves to watch and I don't think there's any physical humor or violence...

  2. I totally hear you. The older cartoons are pretty violent. Even the original Disney cartoons, back to the black-and-white charcoal pencil days, are just as bad if not actually worse.

    In our home I've tried to stick to PBS shows or mellow library finds. Sound of Music is his all-time favorite and current cartoon fav is Dora. The shows aren't as 'exciting' as Sponge Bob or Donald but at least there's no screening required.

  3. My daughter loves Dora, although I don't know how she even knows about Dora, since I never put it on for her.

  4. Yeah, in the 50's and 60's we watched these shows and never once believed that we could get away with that type of behavior. Then again, they were only shown for a few hours on Saturday morning and before the "Beach Blanket Bingo" flick at the drive-in...come to think of it, those movies were violent too. No wonder we grew up and sent our sons off to war.

  5. I grew up with all the more violent, less "politically correct" cartoons rather than the saccharine, sanitized, oft-condescending fare you so often see today on TV, yet somehow I feel my peers during childhood were LESS obsessed with violence, MORE polite and respectful, than kids I see today, on the whole. Am I imagining that?


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