Dr. Toon: 1968: A Lost Connection
Casper has nothing but amity and kindness in mind; it is no coincidence that his second, long-delayed cartoon appeared during the year of the famous Berlin airlift (1948). Casper is therefore an unconscious representation of America's self-image during the post-WWII era. It's not a perfect metaphor, but it is totally reflective. There is one moment in US history, however, where cartoons missed their connection with society.
It is difficult to summarize 1968 in a single paragraph when entire books have been written about that year alone. Race riots in cities large and small; campuses aflame in protest; King and Kennedy laid low by assassins; the senseless draining of blood and money into the morass that was Vietnam; a president who shied from re-election rather than face the humiliation of a disillusioned public; social engineering programs that seemed to inflame rather than alleviate injustices. A Democratic convention that exploded into spectacular violence; America's generations rent apart. Finally, there was the election of a brilliant but thoroughly demonic president whose paranoid and dishonest machinations eventually destroyed him.
The animation studios barely noticed. During some the worst social and political upheaval ever experienced in America, cartoons seemed to be heedless of the chaos, like fish swimming placidly below the ocean's surface while ship-sized waves raged above. The year 1968 produced virtually no response or reflection with what was happening in American culture. In present times, animation can present nearly instant parody or commentary (as the case may be). Why, in 1968, did animation seemingly turn a blind eye to shattering events that flooded the news almost daily?