The painterly style of Walt Disney’s feature films introduced animation to generations of viewers—but for decades, the cartoons that aired on American TV were a lot dumber and sloppier than their big-screen counterparts. Disney’s work was art; televised animation was broad, cheaply produced, and mostly aimed at an indifferent, younger audience. (The Flintstones may be a cultural touchstone, but it makes for a terrible viewing experience.) Even the best stuff often couldn’t escape the taint associated with the genre; Looney Tunes, the classic Warner Bros. theatrical shorts, were packaged as entertainment for kids when they started airing on TV, despite all those knowing winks from Bugs Bunny and the social commentary sandwiched into each segment’s inventive visual gags.
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