Laying the Saturday Morning Cartoon to Rest

Credit: gfpeckThough many of us now sleep late on Saturdays, we all remember a little thing called the Saturday morning cartoon. Unfortunately the Saturday morning cartoon has taken a tumble in pop culture. If you were to actually wake up at a reasonable hour on Saturdays, you might not even be able to find one. The loss runs deeper now that Cartoon Network, a channel that is supposed to be dedicated entirely to the art of the cartoon, is loaded with live-action television. Actually, 60% of the station’s programming is now live-action, leading this post to become some form of elegy.

In fact, many bloggers have noticed this shift in Saturday morning programming and written posts decrying this variety of epic fail. So why are the cartoons disappearing? Fox claims, as documented by the New York Times,  that children’s programming is simply “no longer viable on network television – mainly because of competition from cable channels”. But if this is true, why is Cartoon Network headed in the same direction? Some blame it on the divorce rate, which could make weekend family and commuting time more precious, others blame it on the internet, and others still blame the fact that children’s programming was just never lucrative for many stations.

Gerard Raiti of Animation World Network claims “It’s the children that changed – Not the cartoons”. Combining live action and cartoons into the same block of programming allowed the block to fit a wider audience of both boys and girls over a wider span of ages. Raiti also attributes the shift to the uprising of “tween culture,” whether anyone likes it or not. So the combination of live-action and cartoon programming makes a better profit off of “more complex” kids. So I guess it’s too bad Cartoon Network chose its name a little too soon. Who knows what will become of our old weekend programming in the future as parents gather around in their jammies with bowls of Boo-Berry in hand to watch old cartoons while their pre-teens catch the latest dramas in the other room.

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