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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Celebrating Cartoon Moms

Today is the day before Mother's Day, and I thought that I would take the opportunity to prematurely wish everyone who is a mother a very happy Mother's Day.

And, because this weekend is all about celebrating mothers, grandmothers, and stepmothers all over the world, I thought that I would make today's blog entry mother themed as well.

Truth be told, in the world of cartoons and animated series, there have been dozens of cartoon moms introduced into our living rooms through the television set. Many of them are zany, crazy, kooky, and have voices that may appear as though they like to suck back the helium whenever nobody is around. But one thing that they all seem to have in common is the fact that they happen to be great moms.

Sure, each of them may have their very own distinct methods of parenting, and some of them might appear to know more about how to raise a child than others, but you know what? They did their best. And, as far as I could tell, their kids were all the better for it.

So, I thought that for this, the Saturday before Mother's Day, I would put some of these cartoon moms in the spotlight, talk a little bit about their personality traits, and how they were at raising children. Sometimes they slip up, and sometimes they might not have the right answer, but most of the time, they were heroes to their children.

So, let's start with one of the earliest animated moms of all time.

Wilma Flintstone was originally designed after the character of Alice Kramden from The Honeymooners (played by the delightful Audrey Meadows), and as a result, Wilma was portrayed as being strong-willed and level-headed, and is often chastising her husband Fred every time one of his schemes blows up in his face.

But when baby Pebbles is born, Wilma's personality softens somewhat, and she instantly becomes engrossed in her new role as stay-at-home mother. She also has help from her next door neighbour and best friend, Betty Rubble (who herself becomes a mother to Bamm-Bamm). Throughout the series, we see Wilma enjoying being a mom to Pebbles from infancy all the way to adulthood. And when Pebbles becomes a mother herself, Wilma embraces the fact that she has become a grandmother.

Really, Wilma Flintstone is the perfect example of a cartoon mom. She's passionate about making a happy home for her family, she is completely devoted to Pebbles, all the while maintaining her strong exterior and never back down attitude.

Next, we have the character of Mary Andrews. And many people might not know who Mary Andrews is. I can tell you that she happens to have red hair, bakes a lot, and these days balances a career with her homelife. But she wasn't always this way.

When her son, Archie Andrews came along, Mary doted on Archie...maybe sometimes a little too much. I mean, think about it, Mary Andrews always made sure that Archie was well-fed, she struggled (and more often than not lost) with Archie to make sure that he got to work on time, and in the early days of Archie comics, she was perfectly content with being the happy homemaker. It's only in recent years that Mary Andrews re-entered the work force as a part-time employee.

But here's the thing with Mary Andrews. Even though having a son like Archie Andrews can't be the easiest thing in the world, she really does love him. After all, he is her only child. And, Mary is also a great mom because she will usually be the first one to call Archie out on his bad behaviour (mostly treating Betty Cooper like yesterday's leftovers whenever Veronica Lodge batted her eyes). She's loving and caring, but at the same time not afraid to issue a dose of tough love every now and then. I think Archie was probably the better for it, anyway.

Since we're on the topic of Archie comics, I also want to single out Betty Cooper's relationship with her own mother, Alice (and, yes, Betty's mother's name really is Alice Cooper) for being one of the most touching mother-daughter relationships ever presented in comic history. There's one particular story that can be found in Betty's Diary #2 that showcases this bond brilliantly. It may seem like a typical mother-daughter day at the mall, but it evolves into something deeper.

Another brilliant example of a cartoon mother is the blue haired pork chop making lady known as Marge Simpson. And, to be completely honest with all of you, my own mother reminds me a lot of Marge (well, minus the blue hair of course...though my mom did rock the beehive hairstyle back in the day. No pictures though, she would kill me if I did post one!)

Seriously, Marge is one hundred per cent devoted to her family. And, you have to give her a lot of credit. Not only does she have to rear three young children, but if you take into account that her husband Homer has done some questionable things in his own life, it seems like Marge has four kids to keep an eye on!

But, she does it all. She makes sure that all of her kids have their lunches without pimentos. She microwaves their underwear on cold days so that they are comfortable. She even manages to find a way to cook an entire four course meal in just minutes! This is a woman who loves her family.

The only negative thing about Marge is that more often than not, her family doesn't seem to be appreciative of everything that she does for them. Marge literally bends over backwards to want to spend time with her family, and more often than not, they give her the shaft. I mean, granted, sometimes Marge goes a little bit overboard when it comes to protecting her family, but her intentions are always good.

And, whenever someone has the audacity to mess with her family, the claws come out! Bonus points for Marge in that regard.

Another woman who really deserves a medal for motherhood was Alice Mitchell, the mother of Dennis the Menace. It's a wonder that her hair didn't go prematurely gray with all of the antics that her son got into.

Thing is that Dennis the Menace was not a bad boy. He was really one of the sweetest kids in the whole world. He would do almost anything for anybody. The problem was that more often than not, his solutions ended up creating more problems...especially for next door neighbour George Wilson!

Regardless, Dennis was always the apple of his mother's eye, and although she did have to dole out some punishment for his worst behaviour, most of the time, she kind of overlooked it, believing that Dennis would eventually grow out of his mischievous phase.

You know, sometimes a woman doesn't necessarily have to be a mom in order to show motherly tendencies. Does anyone remember the television show, “Muppet Babies”? In that series, you saw the junior versions of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Animal playing together in a nursery. And, the head of the nursery was a woman named “Nanny”. 

Of course, Nanny's face was never seen. All we saw were great big green and white socked legs. But, that was all that we really needed to see because we could use our imaginations as to what we thought she looked like. I always saw her as a grandmother type figure, but for all I knew, she could have been a Muppet!

The fact that Barbara Billingsley (who played one of the first sitcom moms, June Cleaver on “Leave it to Beaver”) voiced her was an added touch.

Nanny was cool though. She popped in every now and again just to see how the toddler Muppets were doing, but she also took care of them by bringing them snacks, listening to them talk about things. She even went out of her way to repair Gonzo's stuffed chicken when it got torn accidentally. What a great lady!

Of course, sometimes there are instances in which the mother figure is not around. In most cases, we're lead to assume that they live in another town, or they are just simply never seen. It was a bold move to actually kill off a cartoon character for good, especially a mother figure.

But yet that was exactly what happened in the television series, Jem, when the mother of Jerrica and Kimber Benton was killed in a plane crash. Of course, those of you who were regular watchers of the show know that the likeness of Jerrica and Kimber's mother was programmed into the supercomputer known as Synergy (designed by their father Emmett). And, as many people know, Synergy was the machine behind the creation of Jem and the Holograms.

But Jerrica really wanted to do something special to honour her mother, especially since the last conversation they had was one filled with anger and hurt feelings. She tried to get the master tapes of a live performance that her mother did just before she died, but when Eric Raymond destroyed them, she thought everything was lost. But then the Holograms believed that Emmett had programmed the concert into Synergy's memory banks, and when the accessed Synergy's memory, they found the video of the concert, which they then released on a record.

I guess you could say that “Starlight” was the first example of a YouTube video! Not bad, considering that it predated YouTube by about fifteen years!

Those are just a few of the cartoon moms that I can recall off the top of my head. Now, I turn the discussion over to you.

Who are some of your favourite cartoon moms? Is it one that I already mentioned, or is it someone else? I'd love to hear from you!

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