Cartoons: Secret Messages

86289690_7275d240b4_zKids’ shows aren’t what they seem. Most kids’ cartoons are annoying – you flick on the boob tube to shut Junior up for a precious half hour. But  do you ever really think about what he’s watching? Because it’s for kids, it doesn’t include the word “fuck”, graphic nudity, or violent situations, so you’re all good. Right?


If you analyze what’s really going on in these shows, you might find yourself longing to set your kid down in front of Seven.

Take Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Jake and his buddies work for their boss, Captain Hook, who’s tacitly agreed to be evil. The kids find the treasure, and deliver it over to ol’ Hooky, who gives them back a few gold coins. Jack’s a wage slave to the Man. And the Man, as usual, is evil. It’s okay for Jack to do whatever Captain Hook tells him, because he’s the boss. He’s just following orders … plus, aren’t pirates all murdering and raping? Like those real pirates off the coast of Somalia? Not something you really want to glorify.

Daniel Tiger goes the other way. In Daniel Tiger, everyone shares, everyone helps, and everyone has a cute song to go along with it. It’s a short step from “When a friend doesn’t want to play with you / You can find something else to do” to “Ending is better than mending.” Daniel  isn’t just training complacent children, it’s socializing them for the new world order. Ever see any unresolved anger in Daniel? Any civil discontent against an absolute monarch, King Friday? No? Wonder where those tigers went …

Then there’s Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s  mostly just confusing. It seems to be about shapes, colors, talking slowly, and living in a house shaped like your pants. Of course, it also preps your child to love the Disney corporation and all its trappings – for life. This might be the most sinister of all.

The Magic School Bus  seems great. It’s all about science, and who can argue about science? No one – except the one doing science isn’t a real person, but a wizard who teaches science concepts via magic. You can understand science, but you can’t do it unless you’re a red-headed wizard in weirdly themed dress. It actually undermines scientific education by placing it in the realm of magic. Not cool.

Speaking of magic, there’s Yo Gabba Gabba. Four monsters and a robot live in a weird boarding school presided over by an anorexic DJ (though he’s black, and it’s good to see a black guy in an authoritarian role). He turns  them into toys and back into animate beings, demonstrating a shocking control of other people. Monsters are people, right? Because then there’s the drugs. Foofa sounds like a walking Qaalude, and at one point, they tell her, “Don’t worry, little girl. Flowers would never lead you astray.” Let’s not even discuss the 8-bit interludes, the trippy music, or the “dancy dance time.” It’s all about the drugs, man.
Sesame Street,  though – Sesame Street is every liberal’s dream. It’s an egalitarian society where people hold real jobs, have babies, and do things like go to school. Denizens of the Street live in apartments, because that’s where inner-city children tend to live, and they are the show’s primary audience. It aims to help narrow the achievement gap between economic levels. Plus, it originally airs on PBS. Republicans should steer clear.

**This is mostly a joke. Mostly. **


(1) Patrische, Flickr: