Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kids' shows these days... Just what the hell is wrong!?

This particular blog is dedicated to Janine. She brought up some excellent points pertaining to all that is wrong with the animated children's show, Franklin. Yeah, the turtle. I had never noticed anything problematic about the little green bastard until she highlighted some of the issues. Franklin is now one of the MANY programs aimed at the kiddies that bothers me. Back in high school, I wrote an article for the school paper, showing some of the neglect, interspecies lovin' and all-around bad parenting evident in many of today's cartoons.

Some of this is word-for-word from my original article, some of it is new (since I can swear and make sex references now, huzzah!). Either way, prepare to be perplexed by just what today's tots are being "entertained" (Oh, I'm sorry - EDU-tained) by.


When I was young, I was basically brought up by cartoons. Mom worked, and my babysitter was my grandmother, and she was (is,still alive lol) old. TV became a comforting glow. I watched everything: Captain Planet, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stop the Smoggies, Samurai Pizza Cats, and Care Bears - to name a few.

The majority of these shows were obvious fantasy with far-fetched plots, characters, and superpowers, but each show managed to make some sense of why things were
the way they were. The Ninja Turtles, for instance, had an explanation right in the show’s title - Teenage MUTANT Ninja Turtles. The “Mutant” explained everything (at least, it did when I was 3-7 years old). The Planeteers of Captain Planet were trying to make the world a better place and save the environment, so one could overlook the fact that they had magical rings that
bestowed upon them elemental powers. This also explained their blue-skinned, green-haired, flying leader, Captain Planet. Stop the Smoggies was another show
about reducing pollution, which is likely why I never questioned its stars, the tiny, rainbow-haired Suntots. The Care Bears lived in their own magical kingdom; they weren’t even trying to pretend they were normal or governed by Earth's rules (dude, they slept in CLOUDS). The Samurai Pizza Cats were the same: they drove robot vehicles and fought evil.

Cartoons were weird, wonderful, and fantastic in the early 1990’s and late 80's, which is likely why we never questioned just exactly what the hell was going on in them. Cartoons today are a completely different story.

My brother was born when I was 12. By this point in my life, I was watching nothing on TV but Law and Order, Frasier, and bad reality TV (I was a precocious little bastard). Cartoons were a thing of my past, but with a new rugrat (hey, remember Rugrats!? No complaints on that show, personally.) in the house, it was natural that cartoons would now be viewed regularly. It was shortly afterward that I noticed just how strange the last 10 years' cartoons are.

Have you ever seen the show Max and Ruby? Max is a 3-year-old rabbit and Ruby is his 7-year-old sister ...and primary caregiver, it seems. Not once in the show do you see the parents. Ruby is constantly babysitting Max. She takes him shopping to buy clothes, she takes him with her when she looks after someone else’s bunny, and she takes him on her sleepovers, and Bunny Scout meetings. Once or twice during the series, you meet Max and Ruby’s grandmother, but their parents continue to remain conspicuously absent.

There’s clearly something very wrong with this scenario (actually, several somethings). First of all, who in their right mind leaves a seven-year-old in charge of a three-year-old? You can’t even get a fucking babysitting certificate until you’re 12. Max and Ruby are clearly latch-key kids. Everyone on the show is aware of this, yet no one has contacted the proper authorities. How the neighbours can stand by and let this neglect go unpunished is mind-boggling.

The same sort of negligence is evident in another animated show, Dragon Tales. The main characters are Emmy, who is about 9, and her little brother, Max.
I don't have a problem with the magical Dragon Scale that takes them to Dragon Land. Fantasy is fantasy, don't knock it if it entertains you. My problem lies with what's going on AWAY from Dragon Land...

- In the show, you see only Emmy and Max, playing alone in their room. They wish on a magical dragon scale to go to Dragon Land. Now, the parents are heard calling their children to dinner, but are never seen. It seems as if they lock their children in this room, because they are always in it.

-It also seems that Emmy and Max don’t have any friends besides themselves, which leads one to wonder – do they go to school?

-If you can get past the fact that the children are seemingly imprisoned and being deprived of socialization and education, you have to then contend with the question – do their parents ever check on them? They sometimes go to Dragon Land for days at a time. Wouldn’t the adults realize that their son and daughter are missing for extended periods?

More glaring child abuse and neglect can be found in the cartoon starring everyone’s favourite aardvark, Arthur (seriously, how many of you remember the theme song? Don't fucking lie to me, it won't make you look cool). The “kids”, if you can call the hodgepodge of woodland creatures that, are in the third grade in the majority of the series. This puts them at about eight or nine years old. Now, when I was nine years old, I wasn’t allowed to leave my neighbourhood without an adult. In Arthur, the kids can be found downtown by themselves, always hanging
around a little diner known as The Sugar Bowl. They’re never accompanied by a parent or guardian, and you never see them calling to check in. I’m not a parent, but
in a similar situation, I’d be very worried about the whereabouts of my nine-year-old. When I found out he or she had been in a random diner downtown, they
wouldn’t see the light of day for weeks, because that’s how long they’d be grounded.

There’s also some weird interspecies business on the show. For example, it seems obvious that someday Arthur and Francine should grow up and get married, but Arthur is an aardvark and Francine is something ...else (how friggin weird is she.. *shudder*), probably a monkey. Both of Arthur’s parents are aardvarks, and Francine’s are both monkeys. Buster’s are both rabbits, Sue-Ellen’s are both cats, etc. It’s clear that this interspecies relationship would be frowned upon no matter what, not even taking in to account the fact that any children they had would clearly be sins against nature that wouldn't survive their infancy.[1*]

Another thing I could never understand about Arthur was pets. Why can a dog be a human-sized, English speaking being, or nothing more than a barking family pet? Fern is a dog, but so is Pal, Arthur’s puppy. This isn’t something new though; in the old days, you could find Mickey Mouse’s friend Goofy, who was a dog, with a pet of the same species, Pluto. How this works, I don’t know. Also, I'd love to see some revolution or protest from any of the humanoid dog or cat characters, fighting for the end of their people's oppression or something AHAHAHA. I think that would be pure gold.

The 3 cartoons that I’ve just mentioned are only a small percentage of the dozens of
strange shows that the nation’s youth are watching today. Kids are also being exposed to weird things like Boobah, the creepy ballet of Toy Castle, and plenty of useless cartoons with names in the title, such as Ben 10, Kappa Mikey, Delilah and Julius, and Atomic Betty. AND DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE PURE, UNBRIDLED TERROR THAT IS In The Night Garden. It seems the Care Bears and The Smurfs are no longer en vogue.

Some shows are just bafflingly bad examples to kids (in my opinion). As Janine pointed out, Franklin is a whiny little bastard, and along that vein - so is Caillou! Caillou is aimed a reeeeeeeeeeally little kids. My brother was (unfortunately) hooked on it when he was a toddler. The bald little weirdo whines, and cries, and ALWAYS has to get his own way. I know so, so many spoiled kids, and seeing examples like this on TV are not going to help them.

Everything on Dora the Explorer (which I will admit, from age 14-16 I LOVED, for some reason?) is SCREAMED AT ALL TIMES. ("I'M THE MAAAAAAAAAAAP!"), and also, the 7-year-old lead character is permitted to wander off on her own at all times, through the fucking jungle, with a fox stalking her. That would never, ever fly here in the Cape - we have COYOTES.

I could get in to the need to have one person of every race and creed in every children's show, but I won't open that can of worms. I will say that instead of promoting diversity, it makes you confused that everyone around you looks the same, not like the tv kids (depending on where you live, like where I do). And sometimes, characters of each various race or religion are terribly stereotyped in the shows as well... but yes, again, I won't ramble for years about that one.

I left my unfinished blog open and the boyfriend said, "That's just ONE entry?!" so I guess this is getting excessively lengthy. There are COUNTLESS other exmaples of various programming that probably does more harm than good to the children it's aimed at, and provides a lot of head-scratching confusion to us adults. If you can think of any others, I'd like to here about 'em, leave a comment!

[1*] Today, I actually did some research to update my information as much as possible since this blog was originally conceived and written nearly 4 years ago. It seems that on Arthur, DW's little rabbit friend, Emily, is actually the first and only inter-species character on the show; her father is a monkey, as seen in the only episode he appears in, "Emily Eats A Horse". I didn't see the episode, but I read about it, so... the more you know? lol.

1 comment:

* Anything intentionally antagonistic or misspelled to the point it would cause an educated person pain to look at will be deleted.