Joseph Barbera is dead and Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson is dancing on his grave.

Although everyone born in the last 60 years might imagine that they have happy childhood memories of The Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound or, God help us, Scooby-Doo, the truth of the matter is that they're crap. Complete and utter crap. Worse, they're shoddily made crap, after Hanna-Barbera devised what they called "limited animation", more than halving the number of drawings from 26 per second to 3000 for five minutes, the better to fill the empty moments on TV between the ads. And thus they effectively destroyed animation for at least two generations, before it slowly began to claw its way back to respectability in the mid-90s.

Those 1990s—the age of Batman: The Animated Series and the good episodes of The Simpsons—were my introduction to animation. So I'm inclined to agree. But the shoddy Hanna Barbera cartoons of the 60s, 70s and 80s are directly responsible for some of the more interesting animation of the moment, starting with Space Ghost Coast to Coast and continuing through Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. The tropes of crummy comic books and rotoscoped animation are the grist for The Venture Brothers, for my money the best animated show since the launch of South Park.

I'm fascinated by this, because the Mike Judge view (maybe he doesn't completely agree, but I'll assign this to the director of Idiocracy) is that people who drink deep of dumb commerce and dumber culture will, in turn, produce even dumber commerce and culture, their inspiration being so bad to start with. Why, then, are animators and writers weaned on Scooby-Doo producing smart, learned and referential stuff like South Park and The Venture Brothers?