Taking the Fun out of Fun; Social Responsibility Comes to Children's Television

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 2, 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Taking the Fun out of Fun; Social Responsibility Comes to Children's Television


Byline: Scott Galupo, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

On "Feeling Good With JoJo," an interstitial vignette that runs periodically on the Disney Channel's "Playhouse Disney" morning slate, a young clown announces that she will instruct viewers how to - and I quote - "do things with your body that will make you feel good, inside and out." Now, parents, if that doesn't rouse you from morning slumber into a state of utter confusion and panic, I don't know what will.

Fear not: The line is an introduction to a preschool exercise routine.

Given the childhood obesity epidemic that accounts for as many newspaper and magazine column inches as excess human pounds, it's hardly surprising that physical fitness would become a regular theme of children's television programming.

Another staple of the "Playhouse Disney" menu is "Captain Carlos," a superhero who leads viewers through "adventures in nutrition." Time was when "adventures in nutrition" meant a pie-eating contest.

No longer.

At every rumble of Carlos' tummy, his little sister is there, tempting him with all manner of junk food goblins. "They may not be good for you, but they sure look like fun," goes her devilish incantation to summon the fat-activating toxins of the nutrition resistance movement. Carlos never fails to withstand his sister's foul entreaties, of course.

Speaking only for my adult self, naturally, I must say I've become entirely immune to the hectoring of today's most popular cartoon characters.

It's not just the not-so-subliminal health exhortations; it's "Lou and Lou: Safety Patrol," the Disney Channel twins who function as the prekindergarten outreach arm of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; it's the British public television import "Bob the Builder," a small-town construction manager whose mantra is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle"; it's the spiritual instruction of the "Veggie Tales" series.

Mind you, I'm not philosophically opposed to eating right or doing my part to protect the environment. Heaven knows I don't want the next generation of socially conscious cartoons to allude to January heat waves in Nova Scotia. Nor do I begrudge parents' desire to emphasize religious values at an early age.

My beef is with so-called edifying cartoon entertainment, period.

I'm disquieted by the notion that there's a battle for children's minds being waged through a cable connection as parents prepare dinner, rather than at the dinner table itself.

In the 1970s, programs such as "Schoolhouse Rock" and "Sesame Street" were in vogue. One encounters a similar didactic approach on public television's "Between the Lions" (a literacy-themed show over which your 4-year-old may, in fact, prefer a visit to the dentist).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Taking the Fun out of Fun; Social Responsibility Comes to Children's Television
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?