Thursday, January 28, 2016

Good and Evil In Children's Programming

Being a dad (my daughter is now 3 1/2 years old) means watching a bit of kiddie programming. Some of what passes for children's programming is total and absolute drivel (see Caillou as exhibit A), but sometimes there are shows that manage to demonstrate a fundamental lesson to children that they need to learn.

One such show is entitled PJ Masks. It is on Disney Junior and it is a fairly clichéd superhero show with three protagonists (Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko) dealing with problems and villains at night time while their daytime identities as schoolchildren provide the setup and conclusion.

Despite the clichéd nature (and really, is there any other way to do children's programming?), I like it because it provides good and stark contrasts between the good guys and the bad guys. This is something that has gone missing through much programming at the childhood level, even through the tweener years. Most shows now will either avoid the issue altogether (bad enough) or (worse) take a position of wishy-washy moral equivalence. Those two positions will leave a child ignorant or confused. 

Before anyone gets on my case about how it is the parents' job to teach that rather than television, I respond that it is true, but media at large can be a reinforcement or a competitor to what we teach her. Teaching the difference between good and evil, right and wrong is something of which society at large could stand do a lot more. Instead, we have a lot of relativism in our society and our popular culture reflects that. There are plenty of "aren't we all fabulous!" types of shows out there, even ones geared toward pre-school age kids. It is nice, though, to see the occasional program that gives an old-fashioned lesson in an age-appropriate manner. 

Now, bring on the hate mail!

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