Parachute pants, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Growing Pains, L.A. Gear, Breakfast Club....what do all of these have in common? They all helped define the 80s. Come take a fun "Journey" with me as we revisit the totally radical decade.
Back in the 80s, one of the things kids looked most forward to every week was Saturday morning cartoons. I'd sit plastered to the TV from morning until about lunchtime. My morning would start with Superfriends, followed by The Smurfs.
I was a big fan, but I'm not sure why. The stories of these little blue creatures with white hats who lived in mushrooms captivated me. You had your heroes, all led by Papa Smurf. And of course, you had your antagonist in the form of Gargamel, who is obsessed with capturing some smurfs for dinner and using them in some magic potion to create gold.
The smurfs all had distinct personalities, and were thus named as such. You had Brainy Smurf, Handy Smurf, Jokey Smurf, Grouch Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, Vanity Smurf, and of course, Smurfette (the only female Smurf). There's also another billion more nameless Smurfs.
Usually, there was a lesson to learn with each episode, but I can't recall any of them! Many people have speculated about some of the hidden meanings behind the cartoon, like the white hats was a nod to the KKK. Or that Gargamel represented Jews. Or how about the Smurf Village being one big Marxist Utopia. All of this isn't true.
Although, I did read somewhere that the Smurf creator, Peyo, was a sexist. Smurfette was created by Gargamel, originally, and she was the seductress of the group. She'd get any Smurf to do her bidding just by batting her eyes and throwing her curves all over the village.
But all that controversial stuff was over my head back in 1981. The Smurfs, to me, were cute innocent little beings that just wanted to live in peace. I also remember that a bunch of kids had Smurf lunchboxes (include me), t-shirts, and collected the little figures. Smurfs became a brand back in the 80s.
The show was a powerhouse for NBC until it was cancelled in 1989. Saved By the Bell took its place, and that was the death knell for Saturday morning cartoons.