Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rant Alert: Liberalism in Kids' TV

The leftist undertones of The Danger Rangers

The only drawback I’ve so far discovered in cutting the cable is the lack of children’s programming broadcast on Saturday mornings. When all my electronics are in working order, Hulu and Netflix solve this issue handily. Unfortunately, my TV went kablooie, and the one from the spare room ain’t so internet friendly. DVDs only go so far b/c my kids still require supervision at all times and I ain’t watching the same eight episodes of SpongeBob over-and-over. So, I find myself tolerating the limited selection available over the airwaves.

Most of it is fine, actually. There are, however, a couple of irksome programs. Take The Danger Rangers (please!) which might be better named "The Party Poopers." As you may have guessed, it is a show about safety-—stop, drop, and roll and whatnot—-which is well and good. Except that they present the message with storylines that advocate overly cautious behavior as a remedy. What’s more, they often have a left-leaning bent that I don’t care to expose my kids to. For whatever reason, I wasn’t so quick with the clicker today and ended up watching the thing.

Today’s episode was about audio safety, which is decidedly lower on the safety totem pole than crossing the street or handling firearms, especially when you consider how many decibels small children produce with their own vocal chords. The antagonists were a rock band named, appropriately, the Decibels who had conspired to produce a CD that “could not be turned down.” I’m just going to lay aside the numerous absurdities within that and get to the rant.

What set my sniffer off was a strong whiff of leftism in how the show established the Decibels’ guilt. All of the Rangers save one were clearly not fans of the Decibels. So when they discovered that the band’s CDs were locked at full-volume, they immediately cast blame on them. Simple enough for a kids’ show, right? Except they also suggest the possibility of the band making excuses for the CDs, such as a manufacturing defect. The Ranger who is the lone fan of the band suggests giving them the benefit of the doubt until all of the facts are in, but is quickly hounded down by his fellow Rangers.

In the end, the Decibels (unsurprisingly) did turn out to be the villains and had released the ear-splitting CDs on purpose. This is revealed in a spontaneous confession that comes only after the accusatory finger is leveled at them. Justice is served and the one-time defender of the band sheepishly has his "I guess you guys were right" moment before being welcomed gladly back into the fold.

You might have already spotted what riles me up about this: the “good guys” based their determination of guilt on prior attitudes and then willfully interpreted scant evidence to bolster those attitudes. The fact that they were right can’t be chalked up to much more than chance. The character who, to me, espouses the voice of reason is shouted down and is ultimately made to acquiesce for not being as capricious as his cohorts.

While one could argue that by leveling the accusation, the Rangers did glean all of the facts before bringing the Decibels to justice, the fact is that the Rangers were on a mission to apprehend the villains by that point. The earlier dialogue established that they would no longer accept any alternative explanations for the corrupted CDs. The confession only served to confirm the Rangers’ assumption, but it was no less of an assumption because of it.

I acknowledge that in the real life one’s gut instincts can be right. I don’t ignore my gut and I wouldn’t suggest anyone should. It’s one of those inexplicable phenomena that tend to be useful. But I would never recommend one rely—let alone act—solely on his gut as the Rangers did. What this teaches children is that facts and reasoning are too cumbersome and to instead follow those gut instincts blindly and immediately.

There is also a hint of collectivism built in, in that the one defending the band while their guilt was uncertain was the minority compared to the remainder of the group who had collectively condemned them and him. Again, while this is possible in real life, keep in mind this is a show for young children. This storyline might suggest to young minds that the group is more apt to be correct than the individual. Verily, I recently had a conversation with an adult who informed me quite seriously that right is determined by popular opinion and not at all by objective facts. This is a powerful vein of thinking for some and it starts somewhere...

Fortunately, my children have me as a parent, so whatever damage was done (and I suspect very little, given that I was paying more attention than they were) is apt to be undone merely by my rubbing off on them. Still, for all the grousing about sex and violence in TV programming, wouldn’t it make more sense for conservative parents to worry first about the liberalism?

14 comments:

LawHawkRFD said...

A lot of this kind of thing existed in Sesame Street back when my kids were little, so Big Bird, the 'hood, and the Cookie Monster weren't a big part of their lives. I wouldn't have called it that at the time, but it sounded a lot like "community organizing." The group knows better than the individual. The more things change, the more they stay the same, or at least that's what I see from your article. Group wisdom is like common sense. It has its place, but it can also be completely wrong. Kids need to learn to listen to what others think, but also to think for themselves and not to allow numbers to defeat their convictions. Sounds like you're where I was with my kids thirty years ago.

tryanmax said...

LawHawk, thanks for stopping by. Fortunately, the Danger Rangers are at nowhere near the popularity of Sesame Street. But the fact that even such a little-known (and I'd guess little-liked) program still fronts this sort of reasoning only serves to illustrate how pervasive it is.

As for "The Street," I haven't been able to block its influence completely. My son gets very excited about "Melmo!" (He wasn't even a major character when I was little.) On the plus-side, there are a lot more alternatives nowadays. My kids absolutely love Yo Gabba Gabba which I think has some very acceptable social messages to a conservative parent. I mean to do a writeup one of these days.

LawHawkRFD said...

Since I don't have little ones anymore, and my grandkids don't watch that much TV at my place, I'm out of touch with a lot of children's programming. I've seen a few Veggie Tale pieces, and they seemed instructive without being authoritarian. I do know one thing. When mine were little, anything Disney was good. Today, I'm not nearly as comfortable with Disney as I was then. And as for ABC Family shows, they're often too adult for me. I wouldn't allow the grandkids to hang out with most of those "families."

tryanmax said...

Don't worry, I'll explain what the heck a Yo Gabba Gabba is when I get around to writing about it. I do like Veggie Tales because they are unquestionably wholesome, though I fear I may have to unravel some of their theology in the future. Disney went through a rough patch during the Eisner years, but the stuff for little-little ones is good again in my estimation (Cars 2 notwithstanding). I've never seen anything on ABC family that ever interested me, and I've cut the cable anyway. My youngest is at that age where he likes to "read" by looking at the pictures. He pronounces the stylized "Disney" logo as "Mickey Mouse!" He also thinks "McDonald's" is pronounced "chicken!" Never underestimate the power of a logo.

AndrewPrice said...

Nice, group think at an early age! There's nothing like teaching kids to fall victim to peer pressure.

tryanmax said...

There really isn't, is there? And, like I said, I don't object to the idea that the group is right and the individual wrong. I object to the lesson taught when the group overtly rejects facts and still turns out right. Again, a distinct possibility, but a terrible practice. That's the trick of liberalism: it doesn't teach that the impossible is possible, or even that the false is true. Rather, it teaches that the improbable is likely.

Joel Farnham said...

It is sad that any one HAS to preview Saturday morning cartoons in order to prevent liberal programming. It's all pervasive unfortunately.

tryanmax said...

Joel, that is part of why I intend to highlight Yo Gabba Gabba at some point (hopefully soon). It is directed at preschoolers, so most of it is appropriate pablum with no ideological bent whatsoever. But on occasion it takes a simple concept like sharing and puts a decidedly conservative spin on it where a liberal one would be so easy instead.

I don't know the political leanings of the writers and producers. I would guess pretty left, considering all the celebs they get to appear for "dancey-dance time." But their obvious focus is on teaching good life lessons which, when done right, always come up conservative.

Individualist said...

Tyrnmax

Found your blog from the link. Good job!

What makes me wonder is whether this is intential among the writers. Do they seek to purposely dream up liberal mesesages to place in the shows or is it something that thehy think are natural morals that need to be taught and they don't really realize the political message they are teaching.

I think in this case it is the latter. I think that the modern leftist of today is so filled with collective rhetoric that they can't really even understand that they are doing it. But I do fiond it interesting that among leftists one of the cardinal sins a "citizen" can make is to think for themselves.

tryanmax said...

Indie, thanks for coming by and please make it a habit. I'm not as prolific as the Commentarama guys, so I won't chew up much more of your time. ;)

I agree completely that this is something the writers are steeped in rather than consciously pushing. Still, we learn what we are taught whether or not the teacher knows he is teaching. Really, my first warning should have been the premise of the show. A whole half-hour to preach about safety? Used to be that 60-seconds at the end of G.I. Joe were sufficient. Sheesh!

rlaWTX said...

fun rant read...
I agree that most lefties really do not realize that they are teaching anything untoward. They have been swimming in the koolaid. Good catch on your part, and probably your kiddos will get more from your muttering against it than from the occasional exposure to the idiocy.
"Knowing is half the battle!"

tryanmax said...

rlaWTX, or you could say, "The More You Know..." LOL!

patti said...

this resonated with me as a parent (albeit, he is grown now). i used to dissect the trash directed at kiddies 20 years ago, and I was thought a extremist by many an observer. guess i get my sweet sweet vindication now. although, it doesn't feel so sweet. it was trash, it's still trash. indoctrination 101.

tryanmax said...

It's certainly eye-opening, becoming a parent. All the messages vying for my kids' attention. And they're each still counting years on one hand!

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