Thursday, October 13, 2016
This Simpsons staffer totally gets Yellow Submarine. He pours his heart out about it. Even many Beatle fans, who really ought to have known better, dismissed the Yellow Submarine motion picture as “just a cartoon”, a phrase I’ve always heard and loathed.
New visually brilliant animated cartoons started slipping out of sight as early as the 1950s. The first (of two) closures of the Warner Brothers cartoon studios in the 1960s marked the end of an era, although Chuck Jones kept his crew together and moved to MGM where they continued to make great cartoons for a decade. Disney became unexceptional and even more irrelevant. UPA, Paramount, and Hanna-Barbera had seen their best days come and gone. Local TV stations were abandoning their after school cartoon shows which limited airtime for syndicated single-episode cartoon series. Jay Ward–Bill Scott Productions gave up making television series in the late 1960s, although they continued to make cereal commercials for another fifteen years. It just seems so weird that with their largest potential audience ever, the baby boomers, at its peak in size the animated cartoon industry just seemed to give up. It’s not that there was no new talent willing to come into the business. It is because studios chose not to spend money on cartoons anymore. For the next two decades you had two studios grinding out hours of dull, uninspired cartoons that continued to fill-up five hours on three networks on Saturday morning. Those were Hanna-Barbera and Filmation. These two studios produced so many series they would have two of their own series on at the same time on competing networks. They looked liked moving coloring books.
This is why I always felt that Yellow Submarine was a wonderful example of a then-dying art. It was the death throe of a once vigorous living creature. It was an inspiration for future generations beyond the coming Dark Age. It was a way to say goodbye.