“The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.” -Tommy Smothers
Today, the BBC released a report highlighting instances of ‘fake cartoons‘ which have been circulating around YouTube- and many of which have fallen through YouTube’s apparently superior moderation system (operated entirely by computers).
An example of such a cartoon would be one the BBC showed on their site, which was designed to emulate Micky Mouse. Normal cartoon action appears to be happening, but then all of a sudden, one mouse cuts the other mouse’s ear off and there’s blood everywhere. Daaaaam.
Whilst this is horrible misleading content, which has been shown to trick many young kids and quite frankly scar me for life- this made me think about cartoons in general and how it is the cultural norm to show young children content which is not political. And it made me realise- We’ve been played.
For so long there has been a consensus that children are far too impressionable to be shown media which makes references to real life events or conflicts (especially current affairs)- for fear of indoctrination. For example, it would be unacceptable to make cartons with narratives relating to the Syrian conflict for kids. It seems that the only way to teach kids any real events is through a purely factual and historical context. That means no current affairs.
So what do we have instead? Peppa Pig and In The Night Garden. Did you know that Peppa Pig once featured Queen Elizabeth II? That’s right. This child friendly, non political show featured the British Monarchy- who I will add was the only human character in the program and portrayed as clearly superior to the other characters. Think I’m over analysing it? What do you think children do? Then there’s In The Night Garden. A program which shows various different sub sections of society, with their different ways of life, working in seclusion to one another. Then there’s Iggle Piggle, then main character of the story- free to roam the garden, and always the centrepiece. And, whilst the others have rocks etc, the only one with a material possession (a blanket)- the Piggle himself.
Don’t you look at me with widened eyes. I know this is far fetched- but it’s in conjunction with the imagination of someone who would watch something like this. The point is that it’s true for news services, as it is for other media, that everything you make has a narrative and casts a political shadow. You may only choose the slant on what you watch. So don’t show your kids so-called safe content when they could be learning about the war in Syria, or the conflict in Yemen. It’s limiting them.
And to the people who say Yemen and Syria are too complex and adult for kids to learn about: made up violent movies are alright then? Just google ‘How the Marvel Cinematic Universe Works’. You’ll be amazed at it’s complexity…