Never too old to be young

Michael Mathis, Staff Writer

Of all the frightening aspects of growing up, none is more nerve-wracking than the prospect of having confidence. When you grow up, you start to see the slums beyond Sesame Street and how life is not as easy as “ABC.” Everytime Anderson Cooper’s beautiful jawline reports another downturn in the economy or another government demonstration in Syria, my stomach drops, because I realize that I’ll have to be the one to solve this problem. But frankly, I don’t believe I have the confidence to say that I can.

At the same time, I have no problem standing in line at a movie theater, alone, and being able to say to the woman at the counter, “One for The Lego Movie.”

Yes, I am a part of “Generation Y,” the generation that refuses to grow up.

We’re a generation in which only 28% of 16-year-olds in America have their driver’s licenses, in comparison to 44% in 1980 (University of Michigan). In a world where 80% of the population lives on $10 a day (World Bank), is it right that we’re using our good fortune to buy “Jake the Dog” hats and movie tickets for “Muppets: Most Wanted”?


While we are a generation that still has a bit of immaturity within them, isn’t that what the world needs? We used to live in a world where if you went to school, and got a college degree, you would have a job and a successful life. That’s no longer the case. Life is no longer a straight-line; it’s a mix of parabolas, jagged edges, and loop-de-loops. We need creativity, we need intelligence, we need the past.

On an episode of Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time,” brave adventurer Finn visits an isolated kingdom known as “Lemongrab.” Its leader, “The Earl of Lemongrab,” is an obese tyrant who abuses his people and his brother by hitting, yelling, and eating them. This may sound funny because it’s a cartoon, but if it weren’t for Earl’s signature scream, this whole episode would be as disturbing as an episode of “Law and Order: SVU.” The episode, through its reachable cartoonish format, can be viewed by both children and teens (and even adults) how a totalitarian regime is formed and how isolationism can have its downfall.

Remember, this is a cartoon we’re talking about.

Maybe that is why the cartoon is not only is the #1 show on Cartoon Network in terms of ratings for 2-11 year-olds (Nielsen), but also can have crowds of adults storm the halls of Comic-Con. Perhaps that is why Rotten Tomatoes reports that “The Lego Movie” has a 96% approval rating based on 169 reviews. Though it seems meant for kids, these cartoons are teaching not only us, but the generations before us, lessons we need to know. Real adult-lessons; love, loneliness, sacrifice, poverty.

So don’t be upset if your favorite part of “Saving Mr. Banks” was the “Muppets Most Wanted” trailer that preceded it. Embrace it. Because that is the good-hearted innocence that will guide us through the recession and the oppression.

Because maybe when you walk out of that showing of “The Lego Movie” you’ll have the confidence to know you can change the world.