In years before Disney, and certainly before Pixar and Dreamworks, cartoons were primarily a children’s affair. It is much more recent that adults began to tune in as well, and enjoy animation almost to the same degree that children do. 

A lot of this has to do with the soundtrack. The visuals of animation by Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks (and the like) are colorful and vivid, eye-catching and eye-popping. The graphics keep getting better and better, more lifelike and sophisticated. They capture the imagination and fascination of the young. Adults are much more in tune (pun intended) with the soundtrack, which often features adult voices, and humor (understandable to some degree to children but a lot of it) geared towards adults. These modern animated films are layered with the evident storyline and the inferred and implied sub-text, the former for the kids and the latter for adults. 

Chassidus would say that it is much the same with our world. You can view, engage and enjoy our world without realizing its hidden, deeper story. It’s all so much fun even on the surface. But if you tune in deeper with a trained ear and a listening heart you can tap into an inner spiritual message, we can grow to appreciate the story within the story, the G-dliness hiding in plain sight throughout our world.

The Rebbe explains (in a beautiful explanation of the flipped senses interpretation of Mt Sinai) that vision is more physical, listening more metaphysical. 

Here’s something to think about Shema. We close our eyes for a moment, turn off our visual take of the world, say the words “Shema Yisrael” which mean “Hear O’ Israel!” hear as in listen, focus on the soundtrack, on the world’s deeper meaning, on the world’s inner spiritual reality… and then we open our eyes and try to see understanding, that layer of depth, in the world around us.