5 Childhood Favorites That Did Not Age Well
Part of being a father is wanting your kids to have all the same experiences you had that made your childhood special. Even though scientists are dragging their asses on creating a time machine I can use to take my son back to the 1990s with me, I still want him to learn about, and appreciate, the things that made me into the man I am today. The problem I keep running into is that I can’t think of a single thing from my childhood that I believe my son will appreciate now that we live in the terrifying future. Every time I come up with a scenario in my head of some amazing thing I had as a kid, reality stops by to slap me in my stupid face and explain to me why a child born in 2016 would not give any shred of a shit about the things I had growing up. Things like …
Flintstones Chewable Vitamins
Flintstones Chewable Vitamins
Just as soon as he has teeth, I plan on giving my little slugger some multivitamins so he can grow up and get the biggest set of biceps in town, or whatever vitamins are supposed to do for you. And when it comes to multivitamins for kids, nothing was better than Flintstones Chewables, the pill you could trick your kid into eating because it looked like candy but only kinda tasted like candy.
I can picture it now: Every morning, I’ll give my son his breakfast, a glass of apple juice and one of those little colorful vitamins with Barney Rubble or Bamm-Bamm on it. He’ll pick up his Flintstones Chewable and say to me “Hey, Dad, why are these called Flintstones vitamins? What’s a flintstone? Are these actually just little rocks? Is that why they’re called ‘stones?’ Essentially, Dad, I’m asking just what the hell is up with these things?” And that’s when I’ll realize that to explain a “flintstone” means to describe a fifty-year-old cartoon that hasn’t been relevant for at least two decades now.
The only reason I plan on giving him Flintstones vitamins is because they’re the gold standard of kid’s vitamins. They’ve been used exclusively since Nixon was in office, and nobody has bothered to change the characters to something more pertinent. So, I’ll have to collect my thoughts and explain to my son that Flintstones are actually a family of cave people who lived like modern people only they used dinosaurs as household items. Like, sometimes a baby woolly mammoth was their vacuum, get it? All of the wildlife in the world lived in a depressed state of workforce purgatory. And there was a catchy theme song, a laugh track for some reason, and … you know what? It’s easier to just say they’re stones. Eat your goddamn stone, kid.
I didn’t enjoy The Flintstones when I was a kid because by the time I cared about TV, cartoons were so much better. But at least my generation had a regular rotation of the Hanna-Barbera reruns and Fruity Pebbles commercials to explain just what the Flintstones were about. Any kid born today will have no fucking clue why their vitamins are called “Flintstones” or who the character shapes are supposed to represent. To a child, your daily diet includes consuming a small token that’s grotesquely carved to resemble a man wearing a sack. Fred and Barney basically went extinct years ago, and now only exist as mascots on a cereal box, like Lucky The Leprechaun or Jeff The Frosty Flake Lion.
Disney’s Cartoon Movies
Disney’s Cartoon Movies
Disney movies were a huge part of my childhood, and one that should be a cinch to share with my kid, since Walt Disney Studios still makes about seventy trillion dollars for every film they release. My son currently enjoys watching anything that features colors or movement, but I am biting at the bit to show him my favorite Disney movies from when I was a kid. I just have to wait until he’s old enough to appreciate them.
I can see it now: I pop in the Aladdin disk, hit that play button, and watch his little face as the sand-tiger pops up out of the desert and opens his mouth to the entrance of The Cave Of Wonders. Or maybe try to record his reaction when Genie starts singing his “never had a friend like me” song, and all the fanfare and magical imagery send my son into a delightful fit of Robin Williams-inspired glee. With wide eyes, my boy will turn to me and say, “Dad, what … is … this shit? Is this movie a hundred years old? Could you put on Frozen or Wreck-It Ralph? Or, you know, a real-life movie?”
Walt Disney Pictures
“Why have you doomed me to this, father? What did I do?”
You might not have realized this while you were caught in the throes of sharing “WHAT 90S’ DISNEY PRINCE ARE YOU?”, but Disney hasn’t had a hand-animated film since 2009’s The Princess And The Frog. Every animated feature they’ve released recently has been CGI, and the kids eat that beautifully mastered shit right up. Fucking Zootopia made a solid one billion dollars at the box office last year, and the characters in it looked an uncanny amount like real, live animals that wore clothes, dealt with sexual tension, and spoke to each other almost entirely in metaphors. Next to that kind of presentation, our old, hand-painted Disney cartoons look like very musical cave drawings.
It’s not to say our kids won’t enjoy them, but at some point, they’re going to ask why the movies we grew up with “look so weird” because they’ll know they don’t look normal. They just won’t be able to tell you why.
I want my boy to be a gamer, and with the video game industry being what it is today, that’s not a difficult goal. The most exciting part will be pulling him away from Call Of Duty: World War III Cyber Ops: Zombie DLC so I can show him how I have all of my old, classic game systems set up and ready to play. And is there any better reason to go through with childbirth than to have a fresh, new Player Two to relive your childhood with? We’ll start with Halo 2, the game that turned me into a gamer back in college.
Before the announcer can even start the match, my son will start complaining. “Uhh, Dad. Is the game broken? Why can you see what I’m doing? And I can see what you’re doing! Are you cheating? Did you install a cheat on this game?” After a few moments of wondering what he’s bellyaching about, it’ll hit me: This kid has never seen split-screen before. He’s never had to separate the sections of the television with a piece of cardboard or a blanket so his opponent can’t see what he’s doing. Halo 2 went offline years ago, but every single game my son plays with people will be online, and every interaction he has will be with a screaming stranger on the opposite end of a microphone.
To explain split-screen gaming to a child is like opening up an encyclopedia to the early 2000s to preach the history of electronic media itself. We had online play, sure, but if you had a dial-up modem, you couldn’t connect to shit. What’s that? You don’t know what dial-up is? Then forget I even mentioned it, because that’s a whole other can of worms I’m never interested in opening up. The Steam gaming platform existed back in the day, but the servers were complete garbage and couldn’t handle the influx of users trying to connect to them. In a nutshell, online gaming was an endurance test and frankly, I didn’t feel like dealing with it.
I went through all of these in the first week that Unreal Tournament 2004 was released.
I would simply invite people to physically come into my home so we could play a game on the same television like a fucking Flintstone. And do you want to hear some shit? We didn’t play on the 55-inch TV we have in our living room. The TVs we played on were 19 or 20 inches max! That may sound like some kind of diabolical hellscape, but at least back then, if someone hit our Mario Kart with a blue shell, we could physically reach over and punch them in the balls. Let’s see you do that through a microphone, you smug little bastard!
Silly, Campy Batmen
Silly, Campy Batmen
While the movie itself may have been poorly received, you have to agree that Ben Affleck makes for a pretty badass Dark Knight. I will take my son to see every Batman film that hits the theater, just like my dad did for me. But the real treat is when I finally get to sit my son down and show him my Batman films from the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher era. After watching Batfleck fuck a warehouse full of henchmen into the floor, it’ll be important for him to see Val Kilmer go up against the two greatest threats Gotham has ever seen in The Riddler and Two-Face.
How the hell do you convince a child growing up in the Bale/Affleck era of Batman that the superhero movies of my generation were presented seriously and with a straight face? I feel every scene needs to be prefaced with “Now, keep in mind, this was the ’90s, and standards were different then.” But even that doesn’t explain the constant string of bad one-liners or the neon-glowing architecture that provides a constant, direct contrast with everything my son has come to know about Gotham City. How do you explain to a kid that Selina Kyle gets walked all over by some cats and somehow comes back to life, and we’re just supposed to say “Yes. Just like that.”?
Basically a documentary.
My son’s first F-word will most definitely be when he turns to me during Batman And Robin and says, “Dad, seriously … are you fucking with me? This is a joke, right? A joke that isn’t funny?” And the answer will be “no.” Even though every actor on screen is completely hamming it up, and even though they hired Jim Carrey, and Schwarzenegger is spitting out cold-related puns every 16 seconds, no. None of this was meant to be a joke. And when it comes to Batman, my boy, this is all we had.
It can get exhausting being told by a kid that your childhood hero is a sham, so to put both of our minds at ease, we can just throw on an episode of the 1960s’ Batman TV show and laugh. Because that show was just fucking silly.
Don’t think I’m a hypocrite, though. This alien highway goes both directions:
It’s Saturday morning and my son is already downstairs watching another educationally informative episode of Sesame Street. I come down the stairs and sit next to him to watch the puppets I grew up with teach my own kid about shapes and letters. Oh, and how, sometimes, people live in trash cans, and nobody does anything to help them because the trash folk are just too grumpy.
As we’re watching Elmo be way too enthusiastic about a baseball glove or some shit, a little pink fairy girl glides in and joins the conversation. “Who the heck is that Muppet?” I ask my son. “Oh, that’s Abby Cadabby. She’s Elmo’s friend” he says, matter-of-factly. She must be a character they added after I got too old for this show, no big deal. As we continue to watch, I find myself asking who more and more characters are, all of which my son answers with confidence and a twang of annoyance. He tells me about Smartie, Elmo’s smartphone, Julia, a Muppet with autism, and Alex, a young Muppet whose father is in prison.
At this point, I’m trying to keep my head from spinning off my neck and bouncing around the room. There is a prison on Sesame Street? Muppets commit crime? Crimes big enough to warrant extensive jail time? Why doesn’t that Abby Kadabber or whatever just use her magic wand to bust Alex’s dad out of prison? What the fuck happened to Sesame Street since I stopped watching?
I need to drill a little deeper, so I ask my son what Bert and Ernie are up to, and am a little shocked to hear him ask “Who?” I frantically explain that Bert and Ernie are yellow and orange Muppets, respectively, they’re roommates and they get into an adventure literally every week. That’s when he tells me that Ernie really only comes around when they talk about baths, and Bert is just completely fucking MIA. Not only that, but Big Bird, Telly Monster, Snuffleupagus, and the Count have all basically been pushed back to secondary characters in favor of Elmo, his friends, and his parents. Oh, right, Elmo has parents now. His Dad even has a soul patch, because of fucking course the guy that raised Elmo to be Elmo would be going through a disaster of a mid-life crisis.
At some point, the creators of Sesame Street decided to cut the show down to a half hour and phase out most of the cast we knew and loved, and shine the spotlight on Elmo, Cookie Monster, and that fairy puppet Abby. The characters I try to describe to my son from when I was growing up may as well be from a completely different show, because he has no fucking clue who I’m talking about. Elmo has a smart phone, and this world is no longer meant for me.
I’d like to continue this conversation to find out what else changed while I was away, but it’s getting late and my son needs his vitamin.
Follow Erik Germ on Twitter so he can tell his son about how popular he is online.