Examining The End of Saturday Morning Cartoons

When I was a kid, watching Saturday Morning Cartoons was an event. A reason to wake up early on the weekend. There was something that was just so exciting about turning on the TV and hearing the X-Men theme song, learning something from School House Rock, or watching a new episode of Spiderman. Yeah, those were the days…

Looking back now, I realize my mind was able to go to a different place and escape reality. It was fun, and something to look forward to.

However, that experience that I had growing up unfortunately will not be repeated with my children. Not because of my parenting, but because of the government’s.

Back in the early 90’s, a law was passed that basically set the stage for TV stations to phase out these weekend cartoon, and replace them with “Educational/Informative” content. That’s the whole reason for this whole situation.

I suppose they thought that the cartoons were dumbing kids down on the weekend, and to fix it, they needed to replace it. Unfortunately, they replaced it with content no one – especially kids – are ever going to watch. Which is fine – as long as they are doing something productive. But if they are just changing the channel, or picking up their iPad, I don’t really see the point.

A few years ago, I watched this Ted Talk about how school is killing kid’s creativity. This, too, goes right along with that.

Looking deeper into Saturday Morning Cartoons and a child’s psychology, let’s look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

When a young child is at home on a Saturday, watching cartoons, they clear the physiological and safety levels easily. They are home with their family, clearing the love/belonging and esteem levels. The cartoons stimulate the brain – the right hemisphere especially, which is responsible for creativity. In this moment, in this environment, you can make an argument that a child is in a “Self-Actualized” state, brewing up creativity in their heads.


Coupling this up with the TedTalks argument, we take a child out of the home and drop them in a classroom. Now, they are no longer in the “Self-Actualized” state. Their confidence is much lower, their family is removed from them, and all they have now is basically the Physiological level. In one quick move, you take them from the top and move them all the way to the bottom. I understand that most people feel that this is an introduction to real life – but my philosophy is that we should be aiming for the self-actualized stage as a goal for all of us in all aspects of life. If there is something we can do to help us get there, then we should do that instead of the opposite.

Now that the child is in the classroom, he/she first needs to be assured of safety. Once trust is established with their teacher, and then other students, they move on to trying to make friends with others, eventually moving them up to the love/belonging stage. Once their confidence gets high enough, and they gain the respect of others, their self-esteem will increase as well. This can eventually take us back to the self-actualized state – but it won’t for everyone, especially the ones who bully others and get bullied, and the ones who are not being taught based on their personality’s strengths.

Another problem that is present in this situation is that when the child is watching cartoons, the brain is immersed in the self-actualized state and the imagination is running wild. Contrast this with what the brain is doing in school. Instead of being fully immersed in learning – in a flow state – the student’s mind is instead concerned with fitting in with others, which unfortunately becomes most student’s number one priority. It’s easy to understand how this is by looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Due to the brain’s need to be accepted by others as a prerequisite to the self-actualized stage, it is a higher priority in the brain than learning or listening to what the teacher is saying. The mind is constantly going back and forth between the class subject and the other people in the room. Think about it: have you ever known the answer to a question, but hesitated to raise your hand because you didn’t want to risk being wrong in front of others? Of course, everyone has. That is because it is natural for the brain to prioritize self-esteem and being accepted by others higher than self-actualization.

The key in this situation would be to get to a point where you are so incredibly comfortable with those around you that you truly do not care if you say something wrong in front of them. This is a true self-actualization stage, but it can only develop over time. If every year – or every class period – you are with a different group of students, it makes it much harder to accomplish this.

I can’t say all of this without addressing the fact that hardly anyone is hand drawing cartoons anymore. Disney, which is famous for their library of hand drawn cartoon movies, got rid of all of their cartoonists in favor of digital animators. However, this is a story for another post.

Perhaps I’m just being nostalgic. Maybe I’m just venting my frustrations with what’s on TV lately. But I don’t think I’m the only one who feels like this is going to hurt children’s creativity further then it already is.

Live Life with Urgency: Remembering Clint Warren

Last summer, I attended a Meetup event at the Stamford Innovation Center. The topic was on Local SEO. The presenter would end up being a man named Clint Warren. I had seen Clint’s face before – when I was doing competitive research for my online marketing agency, Millermore. He had almost the exact same business, except he was a few steps ahead of me in terms of his business’ growth.

When I got to the event and I first saw him in person, my initial thought was that he looked like he was on steroids. But then I heard him start talking about Bulletproof Coffee and the Grain Brain book, two things I had already been reading and hearing a lot about. I realized it probably wasn’t steroids, but he just did his research and knew what he was doing.

As I heard him go through his presentation, I quickly realized that he must be reading the exact same things I am. He knows the good sources from the bullshit. That’s a good measurement of how I judge other people’s intellect. I’ve almost never met someone who knew as much as he did up to this point in my life when it came to online marketing.

By the time the event was over, I said to myself, “I wish I was friends with this guy.” I asked him if I could take him out to lunch, maybe to my brother-in-law’s restaurant, The Fez, which happened to be one block away from where we were. He told me to shoot him an e-mail and maybe in a few weeks we can book something, because he was pretty busy at the time. I totally understood, took his business card, and kept this mental note.

For the next few weeks, I did a lot of research on Clint and his business. I read a lot of his writings, looked deeper into the notes I took from the event, and studied his business from a competitor’s perspective. I found that he would be doing another event. I told my wife to come, as well as my friends. It was another great presentation, filled with high-quality content. I knew I could learn a lot, and from a guy who seemed like I could really be friends with.

A few weeks went by again, and I saw that he was finally starting up his big “premium” event – The Six Figure Freelancer. It was a few hundred bucks, but I had a good feeling it’d be well worth it. I quickly signed up. When the event came, I sat right up front and tried to soak in as much as I could. I learned a ton, probably more in those 8 hours then I did in my entire college career. At this point, Clint and I had taken another step towards friendship, but still not quite there, and no lunch planned. I knew that along with this course, we would be having bi-weekly Mastermind calls, and that those would be enough for now to keep myself busy with his content. I had a feeling he was still very busy and it probably wasn’t the best time yet to book lunch.

Trenton Miller, second from left, along with Clint Warren, center, at the Six Figure Freelancer event.
Trenton Miller, second from left, along with Clint Warren, center, at the Six Figure Freelancer event.

The Mastermind calls were going really well, and I went to a couple more events at the Innovation Center. Based on what I learned from Clint, I took my business to a whole other level then I thought I could so quickly. I think that seeing someone so successful with almost the exact same business really helped me see that what he was doing was real, and that pushed me along.

Last month, in early February, I went to Clint’s event on blogging, along with my wife, Natasha, and a friend. We got in a couple minutes late. Clint had a friend of his presenting an intro. We sat in the back and waited for the intro to end. Clint came to the back to say hi to us, and asked us when we were doing lunch. I told him whenever he wanted. He told us that he was super-excited to be moving in with his girlfriend in the next couple weeks and it’d probably be a good time then. We agreed and left it at that. Clint killed it with another great presentation. Instead of taking up other people’s personal time with Clint, we walked out without saying goodbye.

A couple weeks later, I had my next Mastermind call with Clint. It was a Thursday. He seemed alive and pumped for future conferences he had booked and snowboarding trips he was going on. He ended the call telling he how excited he was for Valentine’s Day, which was two days away.

That Sunday, Clint took his own life in his apartment. I had no idea that he had Bipolar Syndrome. When my wife and I started seeing the Facebook posts, we were in complete shock, which continued all week. We attended his funeral, where over 300 people showed up to pay their respects to a man that helped so many.

A few months before Clint died, he made this video, called, “Living With A Sense of Urgency” which takes on a completely new meaning now.

Aside from showing who Clint is in a nutshell, this video teaches you that life is short, and you should live it with urgency. I shouldn’t have put off booking lunch with Clint. But I took time for granted. I thought I had all the time in the world – years, decades – to have lunch with Clint, but you never know what could happen. I wish I had the chance to have lunch with him, and become friends with him.

Instead of looking back, the only thing we can do is move forward, living life with urgency. Do what you want to do, with no excuses. Don’t wait, don’t put things off. Do them today. Do them now. You never know what tomorrow could bring.

I’ve been putting off starting a blog, putting my thoughts down in writing. Instead of putting it off any longer, this pushed me to start. My hope is that you too may be influenced through Clint’s story to live your own life with urgency. Feel free to post your own experiences here, or your own memories of Clint.