Thursday, August 17, 2006

Wherefore Art Thou, Anvil?

My uncle likes the Marx brothers and I had always heard that Yakko and Wakko of Animaniacs were modeled after Groucho and Harpo, so I decided to bring my new Animaniacs, Vol. 1 DVD’s to Sunday dinner so I could show him the Anvillania episode (which is suppose to be especially Marx inspired) to see just how true this was. His grand-nephew (who’s about 4) found the DVD’s sitting in a chair and, seeing that it was a cartoon, of course wanted to watch it, too. After quickly scanning my memory of the episode for any adult content that couldn’t also be found in your average Pixar movie, I said okay and we (my uncle, me, and three kids aged 4, 7, and 9) sat down to watch.

As we watched, it dawned on me that the most basic joke of the episode – the importance of anvils in the cartoon universe – probably escaped the three young’uns. Anvils were plentiful in old cartoons, but these days, not so much. Most cartoons today have too much plot for the utter randomness of an anvil. Spongebob is probably the only cartoon left that thrives on minimum plot, maximum surreality (okay, there are Adult Swim shows that fit this description, too, but they aren’t exactly anvil-friendly either).

So what happened? Did anvils just get old? Did society decide that dropping anvils on people’s heads was too violent for children’s entertainment? Has the Wheel of Morality taken over? (Or maybe the Wheel of Punishment?). Do they even show classic Warner Brothers cartoons anymore? [old voice] These kids today and their Nicktoons and their Animes. Why, when I was a kid, we had Warner, Disney, and Hanna-Barbera, and that was it! If a cartoon had violence, it involved guns, TNT, anvils, or other dangerous explosives or projectiles. None of this flying ninjitsu stuff. And no computers! You wanted computer animation, you tuned to MTV. Cartoons defied the laws of physics and common sense and we liked it![/old voice] Ahem. Anyway. We should bring back anvils. I mean, come on! Aren't there any modern icons you'd love to see repeatedly smushed by a heavy block of iron? Let's all sing the Anvil Song!

An anvil's black and shiny!
And very heavy, too!
So watch out, my chubby friend,
Or one might fall on you!

It's made of solid iron!
It weighs a ton or two!
We know you'd like to meet it.
It wants to meet you, too!


Blogger Jody said...

We're too far removed from a time when people actually saw anvils. Without familiarity there's no humor.

8/19/2006 7:05 PM  

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