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Red Lion

Probably over-analyzing a kids show but whatever.

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My sister just turned 7 a week ago and since she was born I've been consuming a large amount of media aimed at really young children.

And most of it SUCKS ASS. It goes beyond talking down to children to just being a bunch of super lazy garbage. One of my biggest issues was with a cutesy little disney show called Sofia the First. I will give the show this much credit, It does TRY to have a plot and story and even if the CGI is creepy it tries for something visually substantial. But, it's plot and characters are beyond terrible. Right from the start our nine year old protagonist is given an amulet by her new stepfather that is extremely valuable and has magic powers. He's not sure what it even does but still thinks it's ok to give it to a child. 

Which of course at some point in the show it curses her. -__- Gee...great job there. Supposedly the amulet only cursed her to teach her a lesson but that lesson happened to be, "Never ever get caught up enjoying something you won." She got randomly picked to sing a national anthem and ended up getting kind of a big head over it. Her behavior makes her friends feel bad and boom, she cursed to croak when she sings.And a sincere apology to her friends (who forgive her) is not enough to break the curse. The problem with this is that this character has NEVER been particularly braggadocios at any point in the show. She's practically a bland, insufferable jesus-child.  This is a new flaw they invented just for this episode and my sister noticed it right away. Because kids aren't stupid. They know when something is full of shit. In the end they decided to bring in a Disney Princess, in this case Belle. Dead eyed CG Belle twirls around and sings a vague song about making things right, she makes a reference to the beast having to lift his own curse. They also show us a brief clip of 2D animated Belle with the Beast, just to remind us how much fuglier and awkward made-for-tv CG Belle is. Like a shitty, yellow Glinda, she kind of just sweeps in, drops a vague lesson "actions speak louder than words" and floats off into thin air never to be seen again. Sofia shares her fairly won prize with two other children and through her good deed is rewarded by not being cursed.

This is a problem with the show as a whole. It consistently depicts WANTING SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF as being a flaw so heinous that you deserve to be cursed or humiliated for it. In one episode a kid doesn't want to share her birthday with her twin brother because her brother tends to take over and always get his way. She's depicted as, for once in her life, wanting not to share and the show treats this like it's an awful sin. In fact if a character is anything short of completely selfless and giving 100% of the time they'll usually be punished for it. The king feels stressed and unhappy? Have him make a wish that totally backfires so he'll realize his stressful life isn't as bad as it could be. But don't actually address his anxiety or unhappiness. Just punish him until he sees the error of his ways. Maybe it's just shitty writing overshadowing potentially good writing, but when you write your show to the point that you make characters who appear sympathetic but show them no sympathy unless they capitulate to a rigid, uncompromising, ethical benchmark then you've stopped teaching children how to be thoughtful, sensitive and empathetic and just taught them that if they don't constantly put others before themselves they deserve punishment. And I know this is just a dumb kids show and it won't actually have that much of an impact on my sister. She does consume better shows and has already p much forgotten this one. But I still think TV for young children needs to be scrutinized and criticized when it falls short on writing, direction and characterization. 

Thing is, I've seen kids shows for my sisters age group that DO show complexity and nuance. When I was a kid I watched Fraggle Rock and while the characters sometimes had to learn hard lessons the show still taught that it was ok to want things and to find compromises. I would rather see my sister watch things that tell her it's ok to be selfish sometimes, it's ok to want things and look for compromises. Have a doozer who doesn't want to build? There's still a place for her within her own society. The message from that episode was about fitting in to your own community. But the leaders and members of your community are still obligated to show you compassion and understanding. They still need to do their part as your teachers and parents, to reach out and understand you. You shouldn't always have to just suck it up and be something because "That's the right thing to do." That's is an extremely important message that I just don't see in Disney Jr shows (Where community is usually nonexistent and adults are usually idiots) and honestly I'm having trouble finding things for my sister to watch. She doesn't really show a lot of investment in Disney TV shows or the stuff on Nick Jr. It doesn't stick with her and she's always kind of bored by it. But she's not really old enough yet for shows that hit that 8-10 and older demographic. 

I've only really had success with MLP, which she loves, but one out of a hundred shows is hardly sufficient. She loves Fraggle Rock too but I only have like 10 episodes of that on old, worn out VHS tapes and I don't want to just dump a bunch of 80's and 90's stuff on her. I would like her to have things that she can grow up with and in 10-15 years have her own nostalgic memories. At this rate all she has is one show and a bunch of crap that she watches because it's there and gets bored of quickly. 

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I think it's a near universal constant for the previous generation hating the newer generation's music and cartoons and fads and shit.

You didn't come at the newer stuff with the mental processing power and limited analytical knowledge of a kidbaby, nor do you have any nostalgic attachment to it, so of course you're going to be more critical towards it.

I don't watch a lot of modern cartoons just because I don't really have any interest to. I know what I like and I avoid what I don't.

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59 minutes ago, Vae said:

I think it's a near universal constant for the previous generation hating the newer generation's music and cartoons and fads and shit.

You didn't come at the newer stuff with the mental processing power and limited analytical knowledge of a kidbaby, nor do you have any nostalgic attachment to it, so of course you're going to be more critical towards it.

I don't watch a lot of modern cartoons just because I don't really have any interest to. I know what I like and I avoid what I don't.

This is true, and I'm not going to pretend like there wasn't stuff from back in the day that wasn't utter shit. *cough* captain planet *cough* But the problem is my sister isn't being engaged by current kids shows. At least not ones for her age group. There were a handful of things she liked when she was still really little but she outgrew those and there are some good shows for a slightly older, preteen, crowd but right now it seems like there's a gap where things made for her age group are either way too childish or just don't don't give a crap. Disney is probably the worst offender atm. And yeah, they were kind of that when I was a kid too, I remember every hit movie they came out with had a lack-luster spin off series. For every good show there were like 3 or 4 bad ones. But it does kind of seem like the supposedly good ones aren't even briefly entertaining my sister and if even she can pick out the inconsistencies in characterization that's a pretty big fuck up.

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Yeah, this is why MLP is currently the best "message cartoon" on TV right now. They've fumbled a few times, but for the most part, their messages are shockingly nuanced for a show about technicolor horses.

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7 hours ago, Troj said:

Yeah, this is why MLP is currently the best "message cartoon" on TV right now. They've fumbled a few times, but for the most part, their messages are shockingly nuanced for a show about technicolor horses.

 I actually think the current iteration is the strongest in terms of writing and character. It's a good show for particularly young viewers without being condescending. My sister actually likes the characters and pays attention to their individual personalities. 

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Im a big fan of kid shows, there's a lot of shit out there so there's really only a few cutesy ones that work well even with its simplistic theme by not being cheesy and cringey because people think they can get away with spoonfeeding kids garbage.

Phineas and Ferb was always awesome, btw. Wonder pets is the shit, and a show on PBS kids called Super Why is kind of fun and endearing. I also highly suggest Martha Speaks, which is a really cool show adaptation from a children's book series which does a fun job of depicting a talking dog andd her family learning about words and vocabulary. Wordgirl is a superhero girl cartoon of the same merit, which is also really funny and clever at times with its cartoony wit and goofy villains (In fact Dr. Two Brains is voiced by Tom Kenny). PBS probably does better then nick jr. and stuff right now.

 

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Just now, WolfNightV4X1 said:

Im a big fan of kid shows, there's a lot of shit out there so there's really only a few cutesy ones that work well even with its simplistic theme by not being cheesy and cringey because people think they can get away with spoonfeeding kids garbage.

Phineas and Ferb was always awesome, btw. Wonder pets is the shit, and a show on PBS kids called Super Why is kind of fun and endearing. I also highly suggest Martha Speaks, which is a really cool show adaptation from a children's book series which does a fun job of depicting a talking dog andd her family learning about words and vocabulary. Wordgirl is a superhero girl cartoon of the same merit, which is also really funny and clever at times with its cartoony wit and goofy villains. PBS probably does better then nick jr. and stuff right now.

 

I actually hadn't thought about PBS. I might try these shows out for her. 

There are only, I think, 2 shows on Nick Jr that she actually likes. Peter Rabbit is probably her favorite from that channel and that is one I'd consider reasonably good.

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13 hours ago, Red Lion said:

This is true, and I'm not going to pretend like there wasn't stuff from back in the day that wasn't utter shit. *cough* captain planet *cough* But the problem is my sister isn't being engaged by current kids shows. At least not ones for her age group. There were a handful of things she liked when she was still really little but she outgrew those and there are some good shows for a slightly older, preteen, crowd but right now it seems like there's a gap where things made for her age group are either way too childish or just don't don't give a crap. Disney is probably the worst offender atm. And yeah, they were kind of that when I was a kid too, I remember every hit movie they came out with had a lack-luster spin off series. For every good show there were like 3 or 4 bad ones. But it does kind of seem like the supposedly good ones aren't even briefly entertaining my sister and if even she can pick out the inconsistencies in characterization that's a pretty big fuck up.

 

She sounds like a good egg with some critical thinking ability, maybe you should forget about the kids shows and actually give her something of substance.

Since she's in the early stages of American (or some other western country, they're all pretty similar) education, I suggest giving her the book "The Underground History of American Education" by John Gatto so she has an idea of what to expect growing up.

Or give her the audio book version if she's too young to read it. You're welcome.

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I agree that PBS has some of the best programming I'm aware of for littler kids.

You may just want to get some DVDs of the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and Looney Tunes. Perhaps the library has older cartoons to rent?

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On 4/25/2017 at 7:19 AM, Troj said:

I agree that PBS has some of the best programming I'm aware of for littler kids.

You may just want to get some DVDs of the Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock, and Looney Tunes. Perhaps the library has older cartoons to rent?

That's because PBS is set to be educational. Most networks with cartoons for young kids mostly hope to sell toys.

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1 hour ago, QT Melon said:

That's because PBS is set to be educational. Most networks with cartoons for young kids mostly hope to sell toys.

Though, I've seen some pretty terrible educational children's programming, too, to be fair.

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Bad children's shows are maybe the most sublimely frustrating thing to have to sit through as an adult, particularly if you have strong memories of what it felt like to actually be a child and realise that there were some things that you watched as a kid that even then you knew on some level were crappy and talked down to you. There are just layers and layers of slow-burning indignation there.

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