It’s easy to write off cartoons as mindless entertainment for kids, but a new documentary series takes a look at the world of animation from a surprising perspective.

“Stay Tooned” is a six-part CBC and CBC Gem series starring Eric Bauza, a Filipino-Canadian voice actor who currently speaks life into iconic cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety, Marvin the Martian and others.

Each episode, the Scarborough, Ontario native takes viewers on a deep dive through some animated favourites to explore how these cartoons have shaped society while also helping to provide an understanding of the social and political worlds in which we live.

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“Cartoons at their very basic form are made for kids, and when you’re a kid, your brain is like Silly Putty. It’s still being moulded,” Bauza tells ET Canada. He adds that in the cartoons of yore, kids were essentially instructed how to look and act. “If you’re a girl, you can only wear a dress and have a bow in your hair and be a damsel in distress. You know, those were the olden days.

“Here we are in the future, in 2022. We’ve got to change the way we inform our younger viewers and not just [on] how they fit in society, but how they feel about themselves…. I think we need to change the way we tell stories, even in the animated world, for the better.”

The series sees Bauza speak with an array of fellow voice actors — including Tara Strong, Cree Summer, Lake Bell, Ken Jeong, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, Lamorne Morris and James Adomian — to explore race, sexuality, consumerism and political philosophy, all through the lens of animated storytelling.


I always watched cartoons growing up as — of course, I think as with everyone — a means of escape and entertainment,” says Bauza. However, he notes that many of these shows had themes “that may have been on the surface of the cartoon, or buried beneath — maybe something that they didn’t want you to catch.”

“Stay Tooned” explores these hidden themes to take a deeper look at what the cartoons of the ’80s and ’90s got right, and what they could have done better.

Bauza says today’s cartoons are doing a better job of giving kids the right messages. He points to “Space Jam 2” — which he lent his vocal talents to — as taking a step in the right direction by reimagining Lola Bunny to have “more of a backbone, and to be less of a damsel in distress and more of a hero. ”

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However, the negative social media reactions to Lola 2.0 tell Bauza that there’s still work to be done.

“[The Tune Squad] actually needed her probably more than any other character on that team because she’s so good at basketball. And the audience was actually kind of mad that we did that,” he said. “There was a backlash for that. And I’m like, ‘Guys, stop dragging your knuckles on the floor and join us in the future. It’s nice here.'”

Check out our chat with Bauza above.

All six episodes of “Stay Tooned” are now streaming on CBC Gem.

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Actresses Who Have Voiced Animated Characters