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Let’s NOT OVERPROTECT the Children

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“Think about the children!” it is one of the most famous straw-man arguments we hear every single day from moral guardians and media watch dogs when we as writers bring up the topic of censorship and values in shows for children. In fact, this statement can so over used that when Helen Lovejoy from The Simpsons screams this out we all start busting into laughter or questioning to ourselves about how certain values in media can be so obvious that they land on your head like an anvil on Anamaniacs. We also wonder why would these people want to put themselves in the line of fire when their really is no fire to put out. Therefore, they blame another person, like the creators of South Park, who has not caused a fire and belittle him or her over one little topic while another fire starts ragging and burning in another area, the forest of children’s media. Instead of purging South Park, and The Simpsons, the shows children should not watch; why can’t they tackle the insults and disrespect that are cleverly hidden in shows that are targeted to young boys and girls? It’s all because of the look, the label, and a whole bunch of deception. Ever wondered, what’s really behind the label of Family Friendly and Educational? Something very terrifying and very disheartening and sometimes we make the accident of jugging a book by its cover, all because of the brand and what it says to us as a consumer.

All throughout history, we know that Helen Lovejoy was not the first one to crusade for the safety and protection of children from certain acts of violence and low morality in films and cartoons. Hollywood has a vast history of zealots and censors who wanted to make their own rules about what actors and artist could or could not do in a movie. For a long time, many censors banned several Loony Tunes cartoons that had Bugs Bunny dressing in drag, which is really an age-old act of vaudeville, which is what Loony Tunes is, animated vaudeville. On the other hand, even way back to the days of rubber-hose animation, cow characters had to wear skirts because their utters were considered too reveling, which is the reason why Clarabelle Cow still wears a skirt. Ever wondered why Mickey wears gloves? It’s all because of the class status during the late twenties to the early forties when wearing gloves was a sign that you were wealthy and descent; especially the men’s gloves that would have the lines or darts that Mickey has on his gloves to this day on, and so do other characters except Donald and Daisy Duck.

However, the worst accounts of over-censorship came in the eighties; it got so awful that even networks had to have censors in their department overseeing and editing the writing of cartoons for kids. How horrid was it in the eighties, according to various accounts from cartoon writer Mark Evainier who wrote for many popular shows like Garfield and Friends, Thundarr the Barbarian, and was responsible for creating Scrappy-Doo who now a days has a TV trope named after him. When the censors saw one scene from one of his cartoons, where a young boy rescues his friend with a boy-scout pocketknife they inquired about the use of knives because of the common paranoia about weapons on TV. So instead, they suggested the boys be tied near an angled rock and the rock is so sharp it cuts the rope and to him it did not make any sense! It is like the famous question from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, “How can a five ounce bird carry a one pound coconut!” to which the most obvious answer is no. another incident occurred with the infamous Scrappy-Doo saying, “Let me fight him Uncle Scooby!” and getting into the position of an angry boxer with attitude. Kids in the eighties thought Scrappy was brave and witty despite his size but the censors said that Scrappy was, “too independent” for a young and very small puppy. Really, it is like saying Hermey and Rudolph were too young to go on a quest for tolerance and acceptance. It totally annihilates the point of the Hero’s Journey, which is to find friendship, perseverance, courage, and to discover that the hero was more powerful and trustworthy than he or she thought they were like Rudolph himself.

Therefore, who did the censors like instead of this moral-less madness? They liked the somewhat squeaky clean, Get Along Gang which every censor admired and used as a standard because of its non-violent, cute, and pro-social morals which were actually very morally-dissonant, sort of like the Disney Channels so-called Family Comedies which really are Family Insults. For those who do not know your eighties cartoons well, American Greetings whom were responsible for the popularity of the Care Bears, and Holly Hobby made The Get Along Gang. They are a group of pre-adolescent anthropomorphic animals who have an abandoned caboose as their head quarters and live in the town of Green Meadow, which sounds like a descent name for a plot of condominiums, and not for a fictional community or town, like Elwood City from Arthur. The leader of the group is Montgomery Moose who is athletic, intelligent, and clumsy; the rest of his friends are Dottie Dog, Woolma Lamb, Zipper Cat, Portia Porcupine, and Bingo Beaver. Consequently, what was wrong with this cute and clean animal gang, in the gang, no one is allowed to have an individual opinion because they had to agree with the group or are accosted or insulted by the group, which results in a plea for forgiveness. According to Mark Evener, this moral-dissonance he calls, which is now a popular TV Trope is known as The Complainer is Always Wrong and even though the censors liked it, writers like him were frustrated and irritated by the ethical and pro-social stamina forced upon by the censors.

Just like the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, the writers wanted to express their different moral opinions without being accosted by censors and watchdog groups whom had deep connections with zealot-like and very religious moral guardians who are nothing like the Guardians of Childhood even though they think they are. The vast majority of these people who supported the Despots of Childhood (I made it up; it is not an actual organization) were surprisingly Televangelist. Who not only broadcasted their lavish and over-the-top sermons and religious talk shows, but also broadcasted shows that looked as if Sesame Street reenacted Bible stories and had animals and puppets singing gospel songs, teaching kids that praying will cast all your troubles away, that the monster in the mirror is Satan, and even referencing scriptures with pride and happiness. Can’t you believe this nonsense went on way before Veggie Tales! Latter on these shows had various characters and themes; one show in fact had singing doughnuts (freaky!) and a host by the name of Rob Evans who called himself The Doughnut Man. He preaches that if we do not except or do not know about Jesus that we are all like doughnuts with holes and that if we accept his truth and message then god fills that hole with his wisdom and love.

I knew several kids on my Grandma’s subdivision who liked the show so much that they sang the theme song repeatedly and shoved a doughnut puppet in my face. Even though I was baptized, I was taught to have my own opinions about religion and that god is not just a person, but did not have a clue at the time about who the Doughnut Man was and even though I did not know, I knew that if you do not want someone to annoy you say, “please stop”. I tried to find a quiet and peaceful place to hide but yet the extreme repetitive on slot of the song and the doughnut puppet still occurred, and then…I snapped. I was so frustrated and annoyed that I pulled that doughnut puppet out of her hand and rubbed it in the dirt. “But I like the Doughnut Man!” she wailed and when did so it was like an alarm that really said, “I don’t care about how you felt, I hate you because you don’t like him”. When her overtly religious and overprotective mother came out, I felt scared about how I felt when she annoyed me with the song and the puppet, because I had a hard time expressing how I felt I ran away and cried. I learned that day that I have an opinion and if that if a person wants to oppress your opinion, it’s because they are oppressed too and have had an opinion smashed up and contently fed to them instead of forming their own opinions and ideals. Therefore, it’s an annoyance when I see and hear other people enforcing values, morals, insults, products and ideals down people’s throats, especially those of young children and teens. However, I learned that it’s not just the censors, watchdogs, and zealots that do this kind of destruction to individuality, but marketers and companies that do the same thing. As Saint Augustine once said, “Pirates and Emperors are the same as one another” and sometimes these two people do the same thing, but go about it in a different way.

The difference is that when a company oppresses the ideals and opinions of others they do it though marketing, conformity, and stereotypes, when a religious group does this, they do it through conventionality, misleading ideals, and a sense of Anviliousness that says that if you do not fallow or believe in us you’re something else… Just like the case of the Doughnut Man or any other religious shows geared towards children that are at an age when they are trying to find their own ideals, identity, and opinions. In addition, around this age, there are shows on Disney Chanel and many others that also market to this same dichotomy of children however, they go about this far more differently but it is the same message that if you disagree with us you’re something else. This is why these shows reject talking about hard subjects and issues that kids face like bulling, rejection, peer-pressure, racism, and even conflict resolution. Instead, they back up the issue with an insult, a joke about the person, a sarcasm, a total failure, or by conforming to the group’s standards though becoming something else and then living happily and wealthy because they are now a swan hanging out with the other swans. Sadly, these messages shelter a child from making valuable friendships, learning about the world around them, and becoming a tolerant individual. What if the sawn that was with the other swans became lonesome because she was isolated by her own kind? How would she feel then, she could be friends with the other waterfowl, and if she did, would the other swans feel.

They would feel as if that swan rejected them because of their over-isolating, and if these feelings of intolerance and unawareness boil over they turn their ugly head into rage, bulling, hurtful gossip, and discrimination on a large scale because she has a Wood Duck for a friend. However, when these scenarios pop up in the media they are subjected as something comedic or funny in films like Mean Girls, Gossip Girl or other films and television shows of this ilk. However, in the eyes of a victim of this intolerance, it is not comedic or funny no matter whom the victim is. It is especially not funny when the victim gets angry and the aggressors who are actually the main characters or the good-girl posse say to each other, “Well, she got what she disserved!” especially when the victim is portrayed as ugly, unintelligent, or someone that the main characters deem as not like them or untrustworthy to the group. It seem as if were slowly going back to the eighties, where being in a group and agreeing to their standards is important; but in an era of expanding ideas and innovations in our technology and social sciences why is this still going on? It’s all because we all fall for conformity to misguided values and norms, no matter if the label says Family Friendly, Educational, Christen, Disney, For Children, Safe and many other names that encourage a consumer or congregation, but do they represent these values? As consumers and individuals with our own opinions, we have an age of reasoning due to the massive amounts of articles and information that are available to us online and on the web. Therefore, we have the power to take down these people and reveal the reality about what their true message is weather there a Moral Guardian or a Corporation. So please, let’s not overprotect or save the children but talk to them, research with them, and guide them to a path of reason and discovery of their self, their opinions, ideas, and the world around them.



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