Crushin on Environmental Awareness in 1990

Still in the early stages of understanding life in 1990, pop culture was far from my radar. I was babbling words and apparently always asking “why,” a favorite word of mine both then and now. So I wasn’t aware of ‘Captain Planet’ when it premiered in September of that year. Thankfully though, we had yet to discover streaming and ‘Captain Planet’ lived on in syndication long enough for me to fall under its spell years later. With that, let’s talk about what a wonderful message this show delivered and how we failed this blue Adonis. 

All Captain Planet wanted was for the world to be a better place. Pollution, deforestation, and wiping out animal species. These were all lessons Captain Planet and his Planeteers brought to life for half a dozen seasons. And before we get into that, I’d like to point out that this show wasn’t just some rinky-dink cartoon – it was something someone put some effort into because the cast was pretty stacked. LeVar Burton and Whoopi Goldberg were two of the heroes of these stories alongside Kath Soucie who you’d know as Lola Bunny from ‘Space Jam’ or Phil and Lil from ‘Rugrats,’ and the villainsJeff Goldblum, Ed Asner, Meg Ryan, and John Ratzenberger rounded out such a stellar cast. So it’s no wonder this show was able to maintain itself for so long. Alas, the message seemed to fall by the wayside. 

In the years since ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ said goodbye to the small screen, the world has just been a hot mess on so many levels, but in particular…environmentally speaking. You’d think my generation would’ve taken that a lot more seriously considering we had not only this show but also ‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’ a couple of years later. We tried to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Remember those commercials? 

However, it seems like no matter how hard we tried, those above us didn’t care. Our world leaders seem to always have one thing in mind and that’s just how much they can collect during their term while doing the absolute least amount of work. Am I wrong to think that? I could just be upset by the past several years but that’s the picture politicians paint. So it’s the vision I have in my head. 

Our government aside, I think that as a whole we just failed to take care of the place we call home with very little regard for its future and the future of those who’ll be here when we’re gone. From “needing” to upgrade iPhones every other year leaving the old one dismissed to the number of cars on the road, especially in major cities where public transit is readily available. I’m looking at you people of LA. I lived there for almost two decades and lemme tell you, the bougie residents of that city would rather Uber for $50 down the street than wait for a bus. 

So it’s those things, both big and small, that we sort of got used to and in turn let the world around us slide to the back burner, and I’m no scientist but I’m not sure the damage that’s been done is as reversible as we’d like to believe. And while my generation didn’t do as well as Captain Planet would’ve wanted us to do, there’s hope thanks to young people making moves today like Greta “I’ll Get Your Ass Arrested” Thunberg. 

Alas, why ‘Captain Planet and the Planeteers’ is one of my favorite things about 1990 is that it wasn’t just entertaining, but it was also educational and as someone who grew up enjoying her days with Big Bird and her evenings alongside her dad watching ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Jeopardy,’ this show about taking Earth’s side appealed to me because of that. Plus, who didn’t want to get picked one day to be a Planeteer? I mean, that ring?!


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