Meta: Care Bears Are Actually Awesome

carebears

I know what you’re thinking. “Quill, are you feeling all right? Do you need to lie down?” Hear me out. This is not clickbait. I’m dead serious right now. These little fuzzy-wuzzies are badass, and I can lay it all out for you. No, I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat. Just listen.

When I was a child, I had a lot of obsessions, as children do. I grew up in the eighties and early nineties, so there were a lot of usual suspects. Thundercats, Ninja Turtles, Batman the Animated Series. I tended toward the cartoons that boys watched usually, and they’re the ones I remember most fondly. But then there was Care Bears. I was completely devoted to Care Bears, and it didn’t seem to jive with my other interests. They were cute, and I liked cute things, but then I didn’t feel that way about My Little Pony or Smurfs or any of the other series that go hand-in-hand with someone who loves Care Bears.

nicholas

Nicholas fully corrupted by the spell book

Then I rewatched the films. There were two that I watched on a constant loop: The Care Bears Movie and The Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation. The former of the two was about a boy working at an amusement park as a magician’s assistant. This boy, Nicholas, finds a spell book that begins slowly but surely corrupting him, and the Care Bears, along with two kids by the names of Kim and Jason, must stop it. This film also introduces the Care Bear Cousins, who are everything except bears it seems.

Similarly, the latter film is about a summer camp wherein a girl named Christy makes a deal with an entity known as Dark Heart so that she can become “Camp Champ.” Again, the Care Bears are tasked with stopping this along with Christy’s friends, John and Dawn. This movie also serves as a prequel, since it shows the “origins”, and I use that term loosely, of the Care Bears and their Cousins.

They follow a formula, as you can see. Pretty similar stories overall. On the surface, the Care Bears are dealing with children who struggle with negativity and feelings of worthlessness, and the Bears give them confidence and show them love. It’s a very positive thing, and you’d have to be kind of a butthole to find fault with it. I get that this can be too saccharine for most people’s tastes though, and that’s where I want to point out that the sugary sweetness is often there to counter some horrifically dark stuff. The sort of thing that inspires the reaction of, “you know… for kids!”

Nicholas in The Care Bears Movie and his struggle with the seductive spell book mirror classic possession imagery. As the dark influence overtakes him, his facial features change. He becomes menacing and shadowy. The book itself spreads a green cast over everything it touches. Before he was practicing sleight of hand, and now with the power of the book working through him, he can use real magic, which always turns out to be mischievous or downright harmful. The only cure for his condition is the Care Bear Stare, which is when the Bears use the symbols on their stomachs in a blast of power. Considering the themes of the movies and shows, this could probably be thought of as the concentrated power of love.

darkheart

Dark Heart

Now let’s look at Christy. There’s no doubting what Dark Heart represents. He has pointed, wicked features. He dresses all in red. His eyes glow. His voice is menacing but wheedling. And she makes a deal with him for which he requires a nasty favor in return. Even Christy’s name is, well… take off the “Y”.

Then there’s where the Care Bears live. In a cloud-festooned paradise, where the major concern appears to be if people are getting along okay. If they aren’t, they zoom down to earth to intercede and spread love to all. If someone hellbent on taking emotion or care out of the world begins to rise up, they Stare them down.

Care Bears are angels fighting demons.

There I said it. Quite a build-up, but there it is. They don’t have wings but rather fly cloud cars. They don’t have fiery swords, but they have the Care Bear Stare. As far as the movies are concerned, their enemies are absolutely transparent, with their appearance, motives, and powers being purely demonic. And the saving grace always is the power of love.

Maybe Care Bears has a quiet, nudged-in religious agenda, but that’s not entirely how I think of it. In my mind, it explains why I was riveted whenever these movies were on the screen. Because the Care Bears were angelic superheroes who were actually fighting demons and saving children from demonic possession. The extremely light tone was masking the fact that they were basically The Avengers versus Satan. In typical 80s parlance, radical.

In realizing this, I’ve come to the conclusion that Care Bears is one of the most badass and awesome cartoons to ever emerge from the 80s. I challenge you to watch these two films and not see what I’ve just said. Try it. Let’s call it “Quill’s Crazy Care Bear Challenge”. Leave your thoughts in the comments below, and as always, happy geeking!

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3 thoughts on “Meta: Care Bears Are Actually Awesome

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