potentially traumatic imagery in cartoons

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Friendly Stranger
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A friend was telling me that she remembered a scene from an episode of "The Magic School Bus" in which the main character, Arnold, takes off his helmet in the midst of outer space and promptly freezes to death.

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This image worked its way into her head as a young child and she considered it mildly traumatic. We were talking about subtly horrifying imagery in cartoons and this prompted me to plumb my own internals and dredge up several instances of this from my younger days. For instance, the deformation of Aaron Herbst in the Batman Beyond episode "Disappearing Inque" -


or whatever the fuck was going on with this episode of The Scooby Doo Show:


I've spent a fair amount of time reading about Elsagate and that whole world of cartoon evil, and while this isn't nearly as overt as an image of Minnie Mouse with a syringe in her stomach, it feels like a similar world of experience - short, terrifying images that make their way into a child's psyche. I've talked to a few people since that initial conversation and every one of them has been able to reference at least one example from their own past. This is interesting to me as a cultural phenomenon and I want to look more into it.

Does anyone here have experience with this sort of sudden shocking imagery in children's cartoons? Do you think inserting this type of thing into children's media was a case of adults not knowing what would make an impression in young kids, or of something more sinister? Maybe some kind of conditioning?

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Dayvan Cowboy
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The entirety of Ren and Stimpy.

Me and the girlfriend were discussing this yesterday actually, so it is interesting that it comes up.
I think certain people who work in children's entertainment, but more recently they have access to children via youtube, they seek to have a level of emotional control over children. If they can traumatize the innocent it provides them with a similar kind of rush a sexual abuser would get. It seems to be a strange power-trip on the part of some people.

I don't like it. Thank you for bringing this up, though.

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Courage the Cowardly Dog scared me into oblivion. I grew up across the street from a cemetery and when I was three years old I saw one of our Halloween decorations in the yard. To this day, I swear it was standing up straight and walking. I went to tell my parents and each time they told me to check on it again...each time I went to check, the decoration was in a different position until it was seated back on the porch. A lot of the antagonists in Courage are presented at the doorstep or in the yard of the protagonist's property, so I think my mind embedded them in connection with that incident.


There was something in Roger Rabbit that scared me as well. I can't find a picture of it, but when I saw it, I'd be filled with dread. It was during the climax, I think. I never properly watched the movie as an adult, but always wanted to because I'm interested in seeing what terrified my mind like that.

EDIT: it may have been these freaky eyes. But, I remember at one point Roger's eyes go crazy like this and that's what scared me.

Don't get me started on some of the visuals in Goosebumps or Are You Afraid of the Dark, however, those are just children's shows, not cartoons.
747Music wrote:dont go up there!!! the music is down by the truck!

Forest_Opal wrote:Mexicolas a spooky person.

Josh wrote:Sometimes I would pay money for 1:46 of silence.

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Sherbet Head
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Young children shouldn’t be exposed to screens at all if you ask me. There’s no way to do it in a safe way, which is pretty obviously inherent to the concept of something that instantaneously displays an endless stream of new visual content without running everything by the parents first. Childhood is a good time to establish what reality is rather than letting a kid grow up not knowing what’s real and what isn’t.

But I’m not a parent and have no immediate plans to become one, so forgive me for speaking outside of my authority.

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