I have blogged before about my disgust for so-called "educational" television. What does this dreck really teach our kids? That the world is:
- Full of caring anthropomorphic creatures that will instruct them on how to use shapes to build a rocket to Mars so they can save a kitten, and
- Completely tolerant and accepting of everyone, to the point that multi-ethnic groups of people will break into a dance of friendship after successfully reading the word "wiener."
- The universe is full of evil half-human supervillains with comical names like "Stinkor."
- Appropriate attire for any occasion includes leg warmers and a hi-leg leotard
- Mr. T can do anything
- For it to count, your primary talent should be emblazoned on your stomach
These lessons are where we all belong: back in the 1980's.
To further my children's education and halt the alarming encroachments Dora the Explorer ("Blinking At You In Many Languages! *blink* *blink* Bueno!!") is making in our household, I recently purchased the following DVD's:
- Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer
- The Care Bears Movie
- The My Little Pony Movie
- She-Ra, Season 1, Part 1 (the first 32 episodes of this landmark series)
WARNING: SPOILERS OF 25-YEAR-OLD MEDIA AHEAD
Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer takes a very simple story and conveys it with a depth and maturity not often seen in animation. To summarize: there's a princess who loves shiny things who decides she wants Spectra, the diamond planet, which creates all light in the universe. Shockingly, she is not the heroine. Our heroine is Rainbow Brite, who, after being awakened by her commune of coeducational and multi-ethnic "roommates," sets off to recover Spectra so she can bring spring to Earth. (She knows about the situation because the robot horse told her. Don't question me.) Rainbow Brite takes her horse, Starlight (who speaks in a British accent but sings like Tom Petty) to Spectra, but she is followed by Murky and Lurky, who are her usual enemies because they hate color. Long story short (quiet!): Rainbow Brite saves Spectra and the magic key glows again and spring comes back to earth and the sprites rejoice. (Of course there are sprites. They work in the color mines, which are happy, fanciful mines that produce colored gems and, apparently, marijuana, judging by the sprites' facial expressions.)
Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer teaches us that greed is very, very bad. A courageous message for a movie based on a collectible toy series that constantly invented new colors just to have new dolls to market.
The Care Bears Movie follows three orphans whose names I can't recall. Two of the orphans are brother and sister, and they get sucked up to Care-a-Lot by the Care Bears, who teach them to love again. On earth, Nicholas (okay, I remembered one) finds a magic book that sucks the caring out of him and everyone else. The Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins must leave Care-A-Lot and the Forest of Feelings to defeat the evil book and make Nicholas care again. Starring Mickey Rooney.
The Care Bears Movie teaches us that books are evil. Well played, evil corporate toy merchants.
The My Little Pony Movie is so amazing that I couldn't even watch it. It also stars Mickey Rooney.
She-Ra, Princess of Power is the most amazing thing in the history of ever. It is a spin-off of the He-Man cartoon series. Those of you who think you remember the 80's, go to Youtube and watch some He-Man and then come back. I'll wait.
So He-Man really "transforms," right? He goes from a pageboy-haircut, pink stretch pants-wearing "regular guy" to an oiled-up bodybuilder? Very butch. And did you notice that He-Man's hair and face don't change at all? He just changes his clothes to become He-Man. His own parents don't know him. Here's how that would really work:
Momz: Hey, who are you and what are you doing here?
Deb: Mom, it's me.
Momz: Oh, I didn't recognize you. You look like a completely different person.
Deb: I took off my jacket.
Momz: That's it.
He-Man's parents must have either been unimaginably stupid (which some episodes suggest) or just playing along:
Dad: Where's Adam?
Mom: I don't know, he's out playing with his sword.
Adam: (from outside, faintly): I....Have....the POWER!!
Dad: Great. Here he comes.
Mom: Shut up, shut up, get into character...
He-Man (entering): Skeletor is coming!
Dad: Oh, no! Whatever shall we do? It's a good thing you're here, He-Man, instead of someone else who just looks like you but dresses like a female ice skater. (Winces as Mom elbows him)
Mom: But where is my son Adam? Not in front of me half-naked, that's for sure.
He-Man: There's no time, you have to leave before Skeletor gets here!
Mom: All right. There are cookies on the table, dear.
She-Ra's friends are even dumber, because Adora, She-Ra's alter-ego, used to be a Horde commander or something, and she showed up to join the rebellion at the same time She-Ra appeared. Coincidence? I think so!
What doesn't She-Ra teach us? Don't trust whisper-voiced shadow demon sorceress ladies? Check. People with metal bones for faces are bad? Check. If an organization voluntarily calls itself "The Horde," it's probably not good? Checkity check.
All still vital lessons for today.
I have the power.