A major portion of television images directed specifically at children is in the form of animated cartoons. Saturday morning blocks of network programming are dedicated to cartoons. The Disney organization, having grown from the creation of 1930s animated movie shorts and features into a giant multimedia consortium, now has its own cable channel devoted to "family entertainment" relying upon fifty percent cartoon programming from its sixty year film library - in addition to supplying blocks of programming in non-cable "syndication" to independent stations. In addition to Disney, entire national cable channels are geared to the family/children's market - notably Nickelodeon - or have blocked cartoon programming into major portions of their schedules: USA, TNT, TBS and The Family Channel are prime examples.
It can be easily remarked, then, that cartoons fill a major portion of a child's time when watching children's and family television programming. The question must be asked, "What type of influence - negative or positive - do cartoons have upon children?" The answer, as this paper shall attempt to illustrate, is colored in shades of grey.
Media philosopher Marshall McLuhan in the preface to his classic 1963 essay "Medium is the Message," recounts that prior to writing the cultural environment was primarily oral - an environment that changed dramatically during the era of Plato with the predominance of the written word as purveyor of the cultural mien:
The section on "the medium is the message" can, perhaps, be clarified by pointing out that any technology gradually creates a totally new human environment (this writer's emphasis, not McLuhan's). Environments are not passive wrappings but active processes. ... contrasts the oral and written cultures of the Greeks. By Plato's time the written word had created a new environment that had begun to detribalize man. Previously the Greeks had grown up by benefit of the proce...