A study just published in the British Medical Journal indicates that cartoons may be hazardous to kids’ health. A pair of researchers, Ian Colman from the University of Ottawa and James Kirkbride of University College London, conducted a study of cartoons released between 1937 (Snow White) and 2013, and have concluded that they are “hotbeds of murder and mayhem.”
They assert that violence and death are particularly traumatic for young kids, and that the impact can be long-lasting. The heroic researchers point out that the carnage in cartoons more often involves an important character than does that in adult films, and they single out Bambi (the shooting of Bambi’s mom), Sleeping Beauty (a stabbing), Finding Nemo (Nemo’s mom eaten by a barracuda), and the animal attacks in Tarzan for especial censure. Their one bit of OK news is that the level of violence hasn’t increased over the past 75 years: In Snow White, the evil queen is struck by lightning, forced off a cliff and crushed by a boulder while being pursued by the irate seven dwarves.
Bambi was one of the first movies I ever saw, and I don’t recall being traumatized by the shooting of Bambi’s mother. Upset, yes, but I got over it. (The death of Old Yeller was much more long-lasting.) I watched a lot of cartoons on TV, and I found the mayhem in Woody Woodpecker and Quick Draw McGraw, to name a couple, to be hilarious, or at least far from disturbing. Even as a child I could see that it wasn’t real – after all, these were cartoons.
Besides, confronting death can be salutary at any age. When Mrs. Bambi dies, the point is that death is part of life, and that life goes on. The death was traumatic for Bambi, as every death is monumental from someone’s perspective, a point often lost in movies for adults.
On this day in 1972, baseball great Roberto Clemente was killed along with four others when the cargo plane in which he was traveling crashed off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente was on his way to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following an earthquake there. That season, Clemente had gotten his 3,000th hit, in the final game of the season, for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1973, Clemente was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Here’s something to end the year with. Poet Christina Rossetti died on December 29, 1899. Here is her beautiful poem, “Song.”
“When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing no sad songs for me;
Plant thou no roses at my head,
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet;
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
I shall not see the shadows,
I shall not feel the rain;
I shall not hear the nightingale
Sing on, as if in pain:
And dreaming through the twilight
That doth not rise nor set,
Haply I may remember,
And haply may forget.”