Thursday, March 23, 2006

Good little socialists...

I have a beef with children's programming.

Actually, to be more accurate, I have something against children's programming, movies, dvds, and music as a whole. I am one of those parents who pre-screens all of their kids' media input because I want my kids to be KIDS. While I believe in instilling responsibility and integrity at an early age, there are certain things (like cursing, sex, and violence) that are better left until they are old enough to understand facts vs. fantasy. Of course this leaves me with children's programming (via PBS and Noggin), Disney and Dreamworks-type movies, kids dvds, and KidStuff on Sirius.

Anyone who talks with me at length knows about my inherent beef with the Disney Princesses and other traditional fairy tales. I don't particularly agree with the story lines. I don't believe in teaching any little girl that they need someone to save them, so there goes Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. I can't stand Ariel, because she essentially leaves her family behind for a man she meets ONCE. The only one I really like is Belle, because she at least is smart and solves her own problems. I've noticed a lot of the older movies and stories are like this, and I've taken to screening all of them for the messages they might impart. After all, I've seen enough women who believed their "prince would come and rescue me". After all, I've seen enough women who believed "my prince will come and rescue me." Yes, it happens sometimes I'll admit, but not every woman is Grace Kelly, and even her recognition came before she became royalty. And in the end it is just a fairy tale, unfortunately one believed by way too many women.

But that's my beef with the more "traditional" kids movies. Now I have a whole different problem.

Do any other Gen-Yers remember shows like She-Ra, Rainbow-Brite, and Strawberry Shortcake? Or even My Little Pony? Yes, they were incurably girly, but I am a girl after all. I had all of the dolls and all of the accessories and used to play for hours on end. I'll admit that all of the above was unrealistic and in at least one case incurably annoying. I still enjoyed them because the good guys(girls, really) always won, and the villains always got what they deserved.

Now I've heard Chris complain (at length) about how the current school system indoctrinates kids to believe that all people are equal in ability and intention to the detriment of actual hard-working students (i.e. social promotion, lack of advanced classes, and the abolition of grades in many elementary and middle schools). In that world, as long as you put in an effort you succeed and no one is made to feel "bad" about sub-par performance. And discipline? Well forget about that, though that's another post...

He also has the same diatribe about children's television, which I thought was harsh for quite a while.

When I took my kids out of Canada and started living with my parents in a rural town (2K people) our lack of any television signal whatsoever precipitated many trips to the video store. Sure, we could have always bought dvds but the store owner was a friend of my mom's and we didn't mind helping support her business. She had all of the old videos of Strawberry Shortcake, the Care Bears, and My Little Pony which were quick favorites among my kids.

Well, Rosie has a Strawberry Shortcake fixation at the moment so I (of course) had to buy one of the "new" Strawberry Shortcake videos. Bad idea.

I never thought there was a true socialist revolution until I saw what they did to poor Strawberry Shortcake. The villains have been removed and been replaced with storylines about campfires and competitions where everyone wins. What the hell did they do to my childhood classics?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Simple. They "PC"ed them. They are so politically correct that every race is represented (not that it wasn't on the original but now it's obvious) and everyone does everything together and when something goes wrong, it's no one's fault. Nobody ever hurts anyone and nobody has to stand up to injustice.

And it's not just in the "new" versions of classics. Once I started looking more closely at what my kids were watching I realized there is absolutely no moral teaching left on kids' tv. Yes, there are all sorts of lessons about equality and that everyone is special and that if you screw up it's okay. But nothing at all about making right decisions or any kind of injustice at all. In fact, the only kind of injustice really mentioned is when someone has "more" than someone else. No working hard, no pride in something well done, NOTHING I was taught at all. And no villains, or even people who mean to hurt other people.

I'm sorry, but villains are a necessary part of kids' stories and teachings. In fact, anyone doing anything wrong at all is a necessary part of teaching a child to survive in this world. Because unfortunately there are people out in the world who want to hurt us, and it's not our fault that they do! There are people interested only in power, people who don't care anything about anyone else's "feelings" or ideas, and people more than willing to take from everyone else. And what's the proper response to this that our kids are not learning?

To fight. That the good guys, when teamed together or even alone, make a difference and can make things right. That's what tv shows and movies gave to my generation, the idea that when faced with injustice you make things right and you make the world better by working against those who would like to see it crumble.

NOT by taking into consideration the feelings of those wronging you, because they are misguided, hurt, or because you did something wrong. Not to make them feel as if they "belong". Belonging to a society and surviving in it is something that is a privilege, not a right, and while you can fight for it you can't necessarily assume it is there to begin with.

I do wonder what will happen to all of these other kids without parents such as myself and Chris, who are parked in front of the tv for 5 years and then handed to the public school system. Will they ever learn right or wrong, or what's worth fighting for? Because there's only one thing between these kids and a future as good little socialists, and that's parents who are actively teaching them what it means to be human and free.

To all the parents out there: Are you doing your job?


Just call me Mel, everyone else does.