LOS ANGELES, February 6, 2014 — Now that the Super Bowl is over, Mother Russia hosts her version of the Super Bowl. The Olympics are like the Super Bowl, but without the entertainment value and honesty. Many adults find the Olympics boring because they are boring. Children ignore the Olympics because they are not in cartoon form. The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are no exception.
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This is not a new phenomenon. Efforts to get a friend’s six-year-old to appreciate the Wall Street Journal program on Fox News have failed. Apparently, it comes on the same time as something called Doc McStuffins.
If network television executives want young people to watch a bunch of people run around and engage in unfamiliar sports or games, it needs to be animated. The solution is so simple that anybody with an I.Q. higher than a network television executive should figure it out.
Bring back the Laff-A-Lympics.
One of the great cartoons of all time, Laff-A-Lympics was sheer lunacy. It had cartoon characters of virtually every popular cartoon at the time competing in Olympic-style events.
Long before Miller Lite brought the world luge bowling, full contact golf and the great lawyer roundup, the Laff-A-Lympics combined the ridiculous with the inane to produce good, Olympic fun.
The three teams consisted of the Yogi Yahooies, the Scooby Doobies, and the Really Rottens. Yogi Bear and Scooby Doo were team captains, while the Rottens were led by Mumbly. Mumbly and Dred Baron were based on Dastardly and Muttly.
Other cartoon characters competing included Grape Ape, Captain Caveman, Blue Falcon, and Dyno-Mutt, who was fearless, scareless and a little too careless.
Mildew Wolf and Snagglepuss (Exit, stage left) provided play by play and color commentary. They were even dressed like sports personnel wearing the appropriate jackets. Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble were guest judges long before American Idol tried that trick.
Kids even learned about corruption because every once in a while the Rottens, despite cheating, would win, but usually they lost.
The original Laff-A-Lympics only lasted two seasons from 1977 to 1979, with only 24 total episodes produced. They have been rerun over the years as part of lengthy cartoon blocks, such as the USA Cartoon Express.
For those who complain that the characters are all American, there is nothing stopping other nations from offering their own version of Laff-A-Lympics. Great Britain brought the world Dangermouse.
Dangermouse, the incomparable, and Penfold, the incompetent, could be on one team with Colonel K. Villains Baron Silas Greenback and Stiletto forming another. A third team could be led by another British hero, Bananaman. As fun as Dangermouse was, every once in a while the bad guys would win. Other bizarre villains included Count Duckula and J.J. Quark. Quark had a robot sidekick named Grovel who would fall to the ground and beg, “I’m sorry master,” every time his name was called. A frustrated Quark would say, “Get up, Grovel,” and Grovel would quickly rise up and then collapse back down and beg for forgiveness.
There are so many gems out there, and the madcap adventures of Laff-A-Lympics and Dangermouse were every bit as bizarre as anything one would find at the real Olympics. One funny Dangermouse scene had a British Beefeater standing still as an actual gorilla yelled as gorillas tend to do. After the gorilla got frustrated and left, one Beefeater turned to the other, shrugged, and said, “Americans.”
The world is a crazy place, and cartoons are one of the last places where honesty still exists. This excludes adult cartoons, such as “Family Guy,” which traffic in vulgarity and filth.
Bugs Bunny cartoons were very patriotic, and kids learned good values. Greedy Daffy Duck never got to keep the treasure. Wile E. Coyote never got to eat the Roadrunner.
Children watched these characters run, jump and play all over the world. Is that not what the Olympics are supposed to be?
Bring back the best cartoons and show the kids the Olympic spirit. They have plenty of time as adults to realize the worthlessness of the Olympics. Let their childhood fantasy that these games have meaning be nurtured before some spoilsport adult, such as this writer, corrects them.
Let the kids have fun. Bring back the Laff-A-Lympics.