Cartoon Brings Ecology to Kids 'Captain Planet' Takes the Environmental Crusade to the Saturday-Morning Pajama Crowd
Laurel Shaper Walters, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor
THE newest superhero on the television block has sky-blue skin, grass-green hair, and earth-brown eyes.
In its first season battling the "looting and polluting eco-villains" of our time, "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" has become the most-watched syndicated children's program.
The animated series also came in first place on the list of the top 10 most-biased television shows published by the Media Research Center, an organization that monitors liberal bias in the media.
"Captain Planet and the Planeteers" is the brainchild of Ted Turner, founder of Turner Broadcasting System.
The cartoon features five young people from around the world - North and South America, Asia, Africa, and the Soviet Union - who help Captain Planet fight environmental destruction.
Gaia, the spirit of Earth, gives the Planeteers magic rings that allow each of them to control an element of nature. When such evil characters as Looten Plunder, Hoggish Greedly, and Sly Sludge become too much for the Planeteers to handle, they combine their powers to summon Captain Planet.
Embedded in each episode is a message of environmental activism. "Captain Planet is a metaphor for teamwork and global cooperation," says Barbara Y. E. Pyle, executive producer of the program.
A "Planeteer Alert" at the conclusion of each episode tells viewers what they can do to help save the environment - turn off unnecessary lights, recycle newspapers, carpool, or ride a bike.
"Saving our planet is the thing to do," goes the rap-theme song. And Captain Planet's departing words sum up his message: "The power is yours."
Celebrity voices make some of the characters eerily familiar. Whoopi Goldberg is Gaia and Ed Asner speaks for Hoggish Greedly. Other familiar voices come from Sting, Martin Sheen, and James Coburn.
L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of the Media Research Center, has pointed out that all of the well-known voices are provided by politically liberal celebrities. He charges "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" with being anti-business and promoting "fiction as fact, seeking to scare children into political activism. …