Monday, July 12, 2010

What kind of message are they sending my child?

We spend a lot of time watching the Disney channel around our house. (I know - I'm supposed to limit my child's TV intake to 20 minutes every 2 years, blah, blah, blah. Totally beside the point here) I know the entire morning line-up (or I did, until they changed it last week). I even change to that channel at work so I can catch Shaun the Sheep before I have to start working. Today, during the 700th rerun of a particular Mickey Mouse episode, I can no longer hold it in. I think some of the messages that they send are dead wrong.

In this particular episode, Pluto is competing in some dog championship event against Butch the Bulldog. Everything is fine until the final event, which is a swimming competition. Pluto paddles across the pool, but just before he gets to the finish line, he notices that Butch is flailing in the water. So, Pluto goes back to save him. Mickey and friends throw a life preserver to Butch, and Pluto pushes him to the finish line. Butch, therefore, crosses the finish line first and wins the doggie games. But, since Butch is such a good sport, he splits his star with Pluto and they both win.

I don't know why I find this episode so disturbing. I guess it's because I have an over-developed sense of fair, and I don't think it's fair to Pluto. Butch should not be given a win when he didn't do the required work to get to the finish line. I guess they're playing on the Cars theme (where Lightning McQueen gives up the Piston Cup to help The King cross the finish line), but they missed it in this case. It's great that Pluto helped Butch - excellent your friends when they need it, regardless of the cost to yourself. But to let Butch win the swimming competition because he crossed the finish line first? Ridiculous. Also, for Butch to share his star? Half-assed at best. A good sport will give up his star when he knows that someone else did the real work. My perfect ending, I guess, would be Pluto winning the whole thing and then sharing his prize with Butch. That would show good sportsmanship.

I also don't understand why Special Agent Oso, Mr. Lopart from Handy Manny, and all of the Imagination Movers have to be so completely clueless all the time. I guess it's for comedic effect, but I think you can be funny and intelligent at the same time. I guess it's also to try and convey the sense of wonder that we hope our kids experience while learning new things, but again, I think this could be done a different way.

I just wish PBS would put on the pre-schooler programming during our TV watching time. Instead, they play the things I'd like my daughter to watch during lunchtime and nap time.


  1. You are making me appreciate Swedish children's programming. I have no idea what is happening and so I don't have to care. :)

  2. We've actually decided to shut off our cable...I'm not sure how I'll live but I'm going to try. So it will be Bob the Builder on Netflix for us. I catch alot of things I don't really like, it makes me long for the days of Bugs Bunny and Road Runner but apparently it was too violent. Seriously? Have they watched cartoons lately?

  3. I agree that this has that cloying saccharine Disney taste. Poor Butch, for one thing, wouldn't that just make you sick? So patronising! I'd be:
    Look, NEXT time, just let me DROWN.

    Pluto is a complacent twit who not only has to show he is a better swimmer but also a better - eh - "person" and not only that, he has to rub poor oul Butch's face in it.

    So yeah. Also, surely kids have to learn people are good at different things? There's too much emphasis on winning - not everyone can win!

  4. But isn't Shaun the Sheep great! I don't have children so have never thought about it in terms of messages it might be giving, but I certainly like it as something for me to watch.

  5. I know this was a rant, but I have to admit that it made me giggle a little bit. For some reason it tickled me that you presented such a thorough synopsis and analysis of a Mickey Mouse episode.

    I just love that. Thanks for the smile.