RFK's Assassination Gave Us ... 'Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!'?
Saturday morning TV cartoons were having quite a ride in the ‘60s. The ratings showed that all anyone wanted to watch were shows about secret agents, superheroes, and the space race -- as long as they were filled with non-stop action and violence. The more horror and bloodshed (as much as you can get of that in a cartoon), the better for the networks. Slapstick shows like Tom and Jerry were out, and action-packed cartoons like Space Ghost and Dino Boy and The New Adventures of Superman were all the rage.
Hardcore. However, that all changed following the assassination of Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in June of 1968. Anti-violence became the term of the time, and public pressure was put on media to stop airing “violence for the sake of violence.” Of course, the Vietnam War also had something to do with it. But instead of de-escalating any real-world violence, the government turned to people’s entertainment because apparently, it’s
easier better telling little Johnny he can’t watch any more Superman than it is to quit sending his older brother to war.
With the moral panic in full swing, the networks were pressured from all sides to fill their prime time and cartoon slots with anything that -- and let’s be honest here -- wouldn’t depict anarchy on people’s TV screens. Hanna-Barbera Productions was dominating the Saturday morning cartoon slots in those days, and the networks were all looking at them to come up with the next best thing. And so the gentle, good-natured, good boy Scooby-Doo and his goofy gang were born.
It was a clever creation by the H-B company because, while Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! was still filled with enough action, mystery. and adventure to keep kids entertained, the characters never faced any real big danger. Plus, there were no (real) monsters or aliens to give little Johnny nightmares, as the villains were always humans in disguise. A lesson Johnny would learn later in life, much like his older brother in Vietnam.
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Top Image: Hanna-Barbera/CBS