This is the basic definition of The Animation Age Ghetto. Note the use of the misguided. Is it really true that people are misguided? I believe so, especially in America. If anything is animated, people are most likely to assume that it is for children. There are few examples of shows that avert this notion of thought however. Yet there are people who still believe that thanks to marketing.
A fellow classmates curiosity towards the same phenomenon.
Animation is cheap, dirt cheap compared to live action television (the other part of the equation).
Early television didn't have animation, there wasn't any point at the
time. Live action westerns and the like were what kids watched, and
advertisers looking for kid dollars (parent dollars, technically) had to
pay bookoo bucks to have time slots near the expensive live action
stuff. So they demanded something cheap.
In comes stuff like Looney Toons, which were originally made for movie
theaters, before television. By then, however, people didn't go to the
movies as much as they used to, and the film studios were scrambling for
every buck. So Warner and others sold the old cartoons to the
networks, who, since they were cheap, put them on the air in the
And kids loved them, as well they should. Eventually, advertisers and
the networks got the bright idea of making their own, cheap, cartoons
and selling toys based on the shows. It's been like that ever since." ~ A post from that forum explaining why Animation and cartoons began to market towards children.
Is that an Academy Award in the intro credits? I noticed this a lot when watching old cartoons. Now this doesn't exact prove that cartoon's aren't necessarily for children but it shows that once, these cartoons were shown in movie theaters first before the move to television and the eventual marketing for children. Looney Tunes, Disney, and MGM Studios animated were shown before or between feature presentations. Movie going was not a children's activity. It was mostly for Adults in the first place. Now This Tom and Jerry cartoon is not the the best example of why these cartoons were not for Adults. This next one should.
Now this one you may have seen a lot when you were younger but not as much nowadays. This is because this cartoon alone has a large amount innuendo and adult references(even a suicide!). This cartoon stretched the core fabric of the Hays Code and tried to get away with as much as possible. As you can see here, it was successful and one of Tex Avery's most successful shorts.
While not as Hays Code pushing as Red Hot Riding Hood. It still would not be considered something for children to watch. Most of them would not understand who these Stars of the 40's are. Even then there are various innuendo and "The Bubble Dance" to really prove that this really wasn't for kids.
Around this time, Cartoons began to appear more and more on television. While the Flintstones was viewed as a more family oriented show (primetime time slot), other Cartoons such as other Hanna Barbara classics and Rocky and Bullwinkle were shown during the mornings. Taking the place of the more expensive to make Westerns which were originally considered children's programming. This and marketing towards created what we like to call the Animation Age Ghetto.
*Warning this clips has scenes of explicit sex, racism, violence, and drug use* Now if you watched this trailer without reading this first, you're probably shocked. If you haven't watched it...you will be. This is probably the crowing example of a "THIS IS NOT FOR KIDS" cartoon. Now I do not know if there were any cartoons before this but this was probably only x-rated cartoon out at the time. I'm assuming Parent missed this one but there are a lot of cases of a Parent thinking that a cartoon is for kids just because its a cartoon. Given this example and the example I'm about to show you. It's not a good assumption to have.
This is another example of a movie that was misunderstood as children's cartoon by Parents who didn't pay attention to trailers. Heavy Metal was chock full of sex, violence and breasts. It was also very trippy. As the 20th century went on less of these films were shown in theaters because of the Moral Guardians complaints about the subject matter. Movie's like these are now on a straight to DVD basis and rarely get any attention....until a unsuspecting parent picks it up for their child....
Let's fast forward about a decade to the original Toy Story. At this point, seeing animated films such as the two above were not comment beyond the discount bin at Blockbuster. Now most if not all animated films at this point were marketed towards children. In the same vein as the Hay's Code Era Films, adult humor finds its way through writing and even some plot points are very dark considering the core audience. Since children won't understand most of the adult content, its kept in the film by release. This is one of those jokes that only adults would catch and even then a lot of people didn't get until it was pointed out to them.
A short reference to the Exorcist here. Humor can expand to a simple reference of things Adults Usually Watch/have watched.
See the all of the references? Cartoons are made this way so that the adults who are viewing the film can enjoy it on their own levels. Let's take more examples from Shrek 2 because they get really adult.