The animated worlds and the characters that inhabit them, both in human and animal form, are often depicted ironically, immersed in a culture that feels surreal. The reality of the cartoon is a reality of real life represented abstractly in such a manner as to capture its essential essence, while not being inherently ‘realistic’ in the usual meaning of the term, like a novel or film.
We can’t see ourselves in a cartoon in the same way as other mediums, but cartoons force us to reach into ourselves and reflect on what the essence of our world and self is. Philosopher Julian Baggini has even gone as far as to say that cartoons like The Simpsons offer a post-modern truth about the human condition that goes beyond reflecting philosophical ideas, instead providing a philosophy of its own.
The Boondocks - "Why Are You Wearing A Skirt?"
The Boondocks - "Ganstalicious Fashion Line"
As sites of philosophical ruminations, Cartoon worlds, especially those within animated television series, are built upon extensive, encyclopedic references to art, politics, and cultural zeitgeists. When fashion and the garments of an era are depicted in cartoons, they are infused with meaning in a larger cultural context than the garments were originally produced in.
Fashion is no exception to the introspection that a cartoon forces upon the viewer. Cartoons frequently celebrate the satirical and use humour as a rebellion against the absurdity of the essences they depict, and in many instances, fashion is the most poignant and provocative example of this phenomena.
Sometimes cartoons even can depict the future – Ned Flander’s Assassin sneakers sure do bear an uncanny likeness to Raf Simons “de stijil” boots. Most say Piet Mondrian influences Raf’s boots, but the fact remains that the genius of the cartoon seems to always tangentially attach itself in some way to any culturally significant discussion.
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text: Aaron Gray