This past week, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time holding a flaked out kid watching children’s programming. Here are some of my observations:
1) Dogs are not equal in the animal kingdom. In WordWorld, the only animal that doesn’t speak is the dog (oh – flashback to Sesame Street – giant talking bird, silent Barkley). In Strawberry Shortcake, Custard (the cat – and if you don’t know that, I envy you) speaks while Pupcake does not. She is given more responsibilities too while he is treated like a slow child and given token jobs. In Arthur, the family has a pet dog. That just creeps me out – animals owning other animals for companionship. What’s the message here? That dogs are lesser beings and therefore can be owned? Remind you of anything?
2) Franklin the turtle is, as the protagonist, the only character in his show with a name. His friends are Bear, Beaver, Goose, Snail, Fox, etc. Their parents Mr. and Mrs. Bear, Beaver, etc. What message does this send? Children undoubtedly identify with the protagonist and as we’ve empowered the turtle to the point that all the other characters in his world are nameless, minor players might our preschoolers do the same? Oh. Wait. I think that is the definition of a preschooler. Art imitating life. Well played Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. Well played.
3) Where are Max and Ruby’s parents?! Why has no one alerted FACS, er, the SPCA, er, the CRTC – surely there is a governing body to oversee this abandonment.
4) Doesn’t Dora risk shattering the illusion when she asks the children what their favourite part was at the end of each show? She may end up naming the exact same part of the story when it is her turn – this after saying “I liked that part too” to the child who has shared his or her reflection out loud. That child will then realize all the shouting he did during the show did not in fact help Dora, but fell on deaf ears. Worse still, the child might share with his father that people on the TV cannot hear people outside the TV and all his helpful comments to the refs, shouts of encouragement to his team and clever taunts to opposing teams have been for naught. Now 2 lives are destroyed. Thanks Dora, thanks.
Hopefully, as my child heals I will be able to consume less mindless drivel and return to the programming I normally enjoy — because there is nothing out of step with reality in sitcoms and dramas. All completely real, believable, and morally sound.