Debate and Discussion

Social and political teachings in childrens entertainment.
Genejoke at 5:46AM, Dec. 7, 2010
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Sorry to do this as a link but this says it better than I, it also saves me typing so much.

I have young kids, they love Thomas the tank engine and see it far too often. Even without paying that much attention certain things became very apparent.

The link says it all but that got me thinking.
http://jordanlacey.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/the-hidden-sub-text-of-thomas-the-tank-engine/

What are other examples of this?

Is it still present in modern (well more recently envisioned) programs?

Would it stop you from letting your kids watch certain programs?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:33PM
Abt_Nihil at 6:12AM, Dec. 7, 2010
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And then there is plain and simple over-interpretation. Sometimes, an engine is just an engine ^_^
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
Genejoke at 6:38AM, Dec. 7, 2010
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Some aspects maybe, some unintentional but regardless of intention these are often there. Is Thomas a throwback to it's origins in the 190s? probably, but these things are so apparent the makers of the current series cannot be unaware of them yet they still pervade through the show.

Also that comment seems curious coming from you who has stated that you like to have layers of meaning to your work. I, on the other hand often write simple and blatantly transparent stories. O_o a little role reversal going on.

Seriously though I do appreciate what you are saying, I often say it mayself, I just want people to tear apart childrens media for my own amusment.

last edited on July 14, 2011 12:33PM
Abt_Nihil at 7:48AM, Dec. 7, 2010
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Well, looking at the original article, it seemed at least slightly humorous to me. I think you do have a point with its origin. We are all shaped by our era, and the implicit assumptions that go with it. And like you, I think that in order to interpret Thomas as a children's version of the “communist manifesto”, there'd have to be more or less explicit intentions involved in its making. Of course, this is all speculative, since I don't know the makers, and I even barely know the series ^_^

And while speculative, it can be a fun exercise to see whether certain layers of interpretation fit neatly onto a specific work, thus shining a new light on it. I certainly don't mean to spoil this fun! I guess I just meant to say: You shouldn't be too worried about your kids! :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:44AM
Aurora Moon at 3:07PM, Dec. 7, 2010
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I don't think the kids would even realize what they were actually watching. they might just see a TV show about talking trains, and all the sub-text would go over their heads.

also, it might count as a parental bonus. read this: http://johnochwat.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/the-train-wreck-that-is-thomas-the-tank-engine/

it talks about how the original book series actually might had been made for parents, not the kids since how the parents were usually the one who had to read the books to the kids. the kids wouldn't be able to read it on their own even at five years old.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:11AM
ayesinback at 3:48PM, Dec. 7, 2010
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First, I think it's great when parents pay attention to what their kids watch. Usually it's the commercials that had me scrambling for the remote - amazing the damage that 30 seconds can do.

Those days are behind me, but I was watching Thomas and friends for years. I could be mistaken, but I'm sure that the controller had a wife that was mentioned one episode when an engine went through the controller's house during some holiday dinner (she was rather distraught) - so already the article loses some credibility for me. Additionally, the article neglects to mention the distinctly different personalities of the various engines as it ran down its engine caste system, and what some of the results can be when one engine acts irresponsibly, or manipulates others, or the positive that can result when engines work together. Sure, it's a pitch for “engines to get along”, but I don't see that as communist. Most often, social progress (or revolution) results from concerted effort—regardless of the political structure.

Yeah, there are a lot of messages in the Thomas stories, but I can't think of many kiddie shows that are message-free. I'll go a step further: I don't think it's possible for a piece of entertainment to be hermetically message-free.

So maybe the best you can do is pick your messages, and with all the messages that kids get, being “useful” is not a bad one imo. They're not being told what's popular (this toy, this fad wear) or what the “smart” folks do (be an athlete, actor, rock star rather than a boring nurse or teacher). The high mark is usefulness, which is still open to a fair amount of interpretation.





under new management
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:14AM
bravo1102 at 5:35PM, Dec. 7, 2010
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Funny then that among the host/narrator for the show in the USA have been Ringo Starr and George Carlin? (and Alec Baldwin known liberal pinko commie lover and head of F.A.G.) lol!

Talk about subversive undercurrents.

Yet another several thousand syllogisms avoided with one belly laugh.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
kyupol at 6:41PM, Dec. 7, 2010
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What should be taught to children is CRITICAL THINKING

For instance, if you say that Marxism is a dictatorship of the proletariat, what exactly does that mean? Does that mean that under a marxist system we're all gonna be dictators? If we're all gonna be dictators, how exactly is that gonna work? If lets say I'm gonna be a dictator, does that mean I can tell everyone what to do? But they're dictators too so… how can one dictator tell another dictator what to do?

Or… if some dude comes along and campaigns on “HOPE” and “CHANGE”, how about asking: “What exactly do you mean by hope and change? What do we hope for? What is it that will change? Define exactly what you mean by hope and change and how do you plan to make it happen?”
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:27PM
itsjustaar at 2:32AM, Dec. 8, 2010
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All I ever learned from this show is that the trains look modestly creepy no matter what they're presently doing or going to. It's the last thing you wanna see before you die, lol.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
Genejoke at 2:49AM, Dec. 8, 2010
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lol if it was the last thing you saw before yyou died it probably means wou died either in a theme park, or being bludgeoned to death with a DVD case or crushed by a replica steam train dressed up as Thomas.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:33PM
Aurora Moon at 2:58AM, Dec. 8, 2010
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being beaten to death with a dvd case would be kind of a weak-sauce death.

if there was an afterlife, I can imagine how embarrassing it would be to admit to that.

oh well, at least you'd get consolation in the fact that yours wasn't exactly the most embarrassing death out there ever.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:11AM
itsjustaar at 4:50AM, Dec. 8, 2010
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Hahaha, yeah. xD Faildeath.

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last edited on July 14, 2011 1:05PM
DAJB at 12:30AM, Dec. 10, 2010
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As the author of that blog says in her own post … she really needs to get out more!

Plus, it amused me that I noticed this thread just after I'd read this one: Books that are challenged or banned for stupid reasons!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:04PM

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