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Cartoon Friday Watercooler: Magic Meatball


It’s Cartoon Friday, again!

Tonight’s cartoon is a fictional retelling of the bank crisis and the mortgage bubble, showing how incompetent lenders got ahead while the economy collapsed.

A close up of a magic 8-ball which reads "My Reply Is No"

Outlook not so good. Neither is Internet Explorer.

Actually, “Magic Meatball” is just an episode of Rocko’s Modern Lifea classic cartoon which aired on Nickelodeon for four seasons during the early 90’s.

We’ve visited with Rocko before, though the episode I selected, “Wacky Delly,” seems tragically unavailable online. Last year, I wrote:

Although Spongebob lives on his own and has a job, his attitude is deliberately childlike. The concerns of Rocko’s Modern Life seem more adult, or at least they begin in the adult world before inevitably devolving into surreal madness. The title character is a wallaby trying to make it on his own, with a troublesome pet dog (‘Spunky’) and a soul-deadening job at Conglom-O, the major employer in his city (‘O-Town’) — their motto is ‘We Own You.’ Rocko has everyday, grownup concerns like paying the bills or wondering if kinky neighbor Bev Bighead is trying to seduce him. The Bigheads are often a source of conflict in Rocko’s Modern Life, and today’s Cartoon Friday selection is no exception.

But in “Meatball,” the action actually focuses on Ed Bighead, Rocko’s toad neighbor, and his meteoric rise and fall within Conglom-O. It first aired in July of 1996 as part of the series’ fourth season. This episode and others set in the workplace stuck with me after the show went off the air, reminding or perhaps warning me of the arbitrary meaninglessness of adult employment.

The AVClub recently wrote about Rocko’s Modern Life as part of their “Memory Wipe” series, which questions whether the shows, games & books my generation grew up enjoying are worth revisiting as an adult.

[T]hese kinds of trials were the rule, not the exception, on Rocko’s Modern Life. If anything demonstrates the maturity of the show, the way it never talked down to its viewers, it’s this: The reminder that you can’t always get what you want.

[…] That’s a tough lesson for kids to learn, and it’s hard-wired into much of Rocko’s Modern Life. It’s the medicine that goes down easier thanks to the slapstick, the goofy voices, and the spectacular colors. Paradoxically, it’s all of those things that make coming back to Rocko’s Modern Life such a hoot. At a time when I’ve dealt with all of the annoyances Rocko has dealt with—and then some—it’s nice to be reminded of the simple pleasure of a good bug-eyed-exposed-brain sight gag. On the days when you’re feeling more like the hare than the tortoise, Rocko[‘s …] defeats are a welcome reminder that you’re not alone in that regard.

Rocko’s remains funny to this day.

Tell me about what you’re watching on TV, what books you’re reading, cartoons you love or whatever entertains you right now in the comments below.

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The Watercooler is an open conversation. Ask questions, share links and Friday thoughts. Cheers!

Photo by Waifer X released under a Creative Commons license.

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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and