Gumby likes nothing better than to wrap those boneless toxic green colored arms around things and squeeze. Or so I thought. I have a confession. I wasn't born here. I moved to the US around the time I was 6, and wasn't fluent in English until about a year or so later. Due to the timing and travails of immigration, I missed a number of key childhood cartoons for my age set. Some I only saw pictures of on lunchboxes, others I only know from offhand references by friends. Lacking the time and the inclination to watch 80s and 90s cartoons for the preschool set as an adult for educational purposes, I simply filled in the details based on what the cartoon characters either looked like or sounded like from the titles.
This has led to some misunderstandings.
When I first saw a picture of Gumby, the strange, humanoid green creature with fused arms and legs like cancerous masses, I assumed he was evil. The flat, engorged head, the limbs bent at unnatural angles; it's the stuff of nightmares. Moving like one of those promotional wind powered flailing dolls outside used car lots I assumed he wrapped his boneless, gelatinous arms around victims before uttering in a deep and distorted voice, "Gumby kill. Gumby eat soul." I guessed there were other characters on the show, which spent their entire time running for their lives while chased by Gumby, an ever nearing green menace.
Rocko's Modern Life
Rocko paved the way for gay friendly sitcoms like "Will and Grace" and "Modern Family". The cartoon, a progressive import I figured, followed Rocko, a little dog-like creature, as he explored what it meant to be a young gay man/dog-like creature in the 90s. I am also pretty sure he was dating the cow. That cow seemed very flamboyant. Rocko was obviously the handsome twink on the show. There had to be a bear, was there an actual bear or a metaphorical one, I don't know.
These are clearly rats. I had a pet hamster as a child, so I figured rats were good people. The rats on the show lived in a rug, possibly some sort of 1970s shag number with extra long fibers. They built an entire civilization, with a complex social order, all in one living room rug. They had ratty adventures, saved the rug from the resident pet cat and everyone learned a valuable lesson about sharing and caring in the end. Like I said, good people.
I first learned of the illustrious Mr. Rogers in my late teens. This is not a good time to learn about a single man who likes to invite young children to his house to play. Curious, I caught the introduction segment to his show once on TV. The lonely aging Mr. Rogers, with his colorful cardigan and soothing voice set of all sorts of alarms in me. Years of stranger danger hammered into me by well meaning teachers reverberated through my brain like a manic fire alarm. Run. Run now.Before you end up in some courtroom, showing on the teddy where the bad man touched you, your mom sobbing into a wad of disintegrating tissues. Mr. Rogers was bad news.