So it turns out the Thundercats reboot is definitely coming to Cartoon Network, and even has a trailer. But aside from the souped-up graphics thanks to CGI, we couldn’t help but notice a big change. Two big changes, if you will.
That’s right, Cheetara went up at least a cup size, got luscious locks, and is basically a tarted-up version of the perfectly acceptable Cheetara we knew from the ’80s. But more and more, those in charge of animated characters — be it studios, producers, or the animators themselves — have decided that “update for a new generation” means “make sexier.”
Nowhere was this more pronounced than when old and new childhood icons Strawberry Shortcake and Dora the Explorer underwent major physical changes. The companies behind these cartoon girls — American Greetings Properties and Nickelodeon, respectively — have reimagined the decidedly childlike characters as having gone through puberty and getting all the features that often come with it: A thinner physique with body weight more distributed, longer hair, a predilection for lip gloss and talking about boys on the phone.
In writing this out, I can see how it makes some sense; the animators have the characters literally grow up with their viewers, rather than keep them ageless for the next generation of five-year-olds. But it’s one thing to adjust the physical characteristics; these “new and improved” versions of Strawberry Shortcake and Dora both abandon the adventurous spirit that made them so endearing for more superficial things.
But these changes linked to puberty still make more sense than the Cheetara reimagining, or a similar shake-up that happened to Batman villain Harley Quinn. When we first meet the Joker’s equally deranged lover/sidekick in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series, she’s clad in what is one of my favorite costumes for that genre, a simple black-and-red costume reminiscent of the Arlecchino stock character in Italian theater. Her most reincarnation, in 2009′s Arkham Asylum video game, is downright appalling.
Disney, which subtly tweaks its roster of princesses very few years, has made them bustier but usually left all other details of clothing and accessories untouched. What gives?