In the 90′s two weird and wonderful cartoons (you sort of need to be knee deep in mushrooms to get it) took to TV screens to encourage our children to protect the planet and nurture their environment.
Most of you will have heard of Captain Planet, which ran on TV from 1990-96. When Gaia, the spirit of the Earth, is awakened from a long sleep to realise that we’ve messed up Earth real good, she sends five magic rings to five chosen youths across the globe. Captain Planet is the magical entity who, when summoned, possesses the combined powers of a team stronger than its individual parts. Oh, and he has a mullet. Much respect. Check out the no less surreal intro below.
Less likely perhaps, is that you’ve also heard of Widget the World Watcher (intro trailer above), which ran from 1990-91. It’s essentially the same premise as Captain, except with an alien. Widget was one of the first Alien Environmentalists to enter pop culture since Klaatu emerged from his ship announcing that he has come in peace and is on a good will mission, back in 1951 (The Day the Earth Stood Still). He is a 4-foot-tall purple alien from the Horsehead Nebula who can shape-shift. He and a group of young teenagers go through a number of adventures to protect the natural environment from those who wish to plunder or harm it.
What I want to know is, where are Ecological animated series of today? The issues concerning our environment are better understood than ever before, the audience is better informed and animation technology is leap years ahead, so why haven’t distributors picked up a Captain Planet or Widget the World Watcher suited to the 21st century? Are even our children too cynical?