10/29/2012 09:54 am ET Updated Dec 29, 2012

Old-School Cartoons: Animation Domination

Cartoons have taught me everything I know. Well, maybe not everything. But when I see parenting experts preaching about how fetuses should listen to Beethoven and infants should read Shakespeare, I can't help but chuckle. While the animations of today might be truly vapid, during my childhood they had a certain sincerity and honesty that I can still appreciate today.

Through the TV screen, I learned about a wide variety of topics. Arthur and his anthropomorphic pals showed me the importance of reading, especially through the public library. The urban community of "Hey Arnold!"sparked my interest in the world outside of my plain, suburban town. My feminist roots sprouted from the pint-sized superheros of the "Powerpuff Girls" and the tough, extreme sports-loving Reggie of "Rocket Power." I learned about boys and first crushes through the plight of Ginger in "As Told By Ginger" (unbeknownst to my mother, of course). As a kid who hadn't gotten the chance to fully experience the world, being exposed to so many diverse elements through cartoons allowed me to broaden my views from the comfort of my bedroom.

As I've gotten older, my favorite cartoons have taken on a different kind of significance, even before the show actually starts. Through my love of music, I can appreciate the creativity of something as simple as the theme song. Although they are usually overlooked by the average viewer, I believe they provide a glimpse into the musical styles of that era. The scat and jazz influenced theme of "Doug" and the R&B infused song of "As Told By Ginger" are both representative of '90s tunes. The theme songs of today's shows, in all genres, just don't have the same resonating power.

Aside from the music, I am still fond of my childhood favorites when compared with current programs. Popular media today, especially for teens, usually involves an element of fantasy. Teenage love triangles have been replaced with vampire-werewolf romantic affairs. Friendly competition between classmates is swapped for death matches in dystopian societies. Too often it seems that the actual lives of teens are pushed aside in favor of illusions for fear of being trite. These supernatural plots are definitely more sensational than my daily routine, but I want to watch something that I can relate to. Although the animations of the past weren't actually non-fiction, they were relatable in the sense that the characters' trials and tribulations paralleled my own. I have clearly outgrown the protagonists of my favorite cartoons, but I can still identify with their experiences; this is especially telling since most of these shows were created decades ago. This timelessness is a comfort that I can fall back on whenever the pressures of being a teen take their toll. Sometimes a bit of nostalgia is all I need in order to put everything into perspective and realize that I'm not the only one who's ever faced challenges. Occasionally, I'll wake up early on a Saturday morning to watch some cartoons. Childish? Possibly. Satisfying? Definitely.