My daughter watches a lot of Disney Junior. When I was her age, I didn’t have the abundance of kids shows she does today. Back then, and in the 80s, the educational shows I watched were Sesame Street, Mr. Dressup, and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.
Looking back, I have to compare today’s educational shows with what I watched. Sesame Street dealt with death. Mister Roger’s Neighborhood dealt with disabilities. All of those shows handled acceptance and taught kids how to treat others with respect. They didn’t dumb things down or talk down to kids. They treated the issues honestly and with a very straightforward message and a lot of kindness.
What about today’s shows? Well, there are some things that irk me about the shows my daughter watches. I’ll take a look at a couple of mild cases, then the biggest problem show.
I’ll start off with the big show, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. That’s right, I’m going after Mickey! I grew up loving the Mickey Mouse cartoons. I look at this show and see totally different personalities. I understand that this show is for education and not entertainment, but it seems like they’ve stripped them of their personalities. Mickey Mouse now needs help to decide how to do things. Before, he was able to think for himself. Donald was always easy to anger. Now it’s like he’s been put on some kind of medication that controls his temper, yet puts him into mild depression from time to time. Pete was Mickey’s arch-nemesis. Now he’s just a mischievous character that does no more than try to get Mickey and friends to pay for things they shouldn’t have to pay for.
Second is Jake and the Never Land Pirates. I’ll put this simply, Captain Hook is now so immature and childish, he no longer has the impact he had in Peter Pan. He’s a grown man who acts far more childish than Jake and his friends. Right. And Jake isn’t a pirate. A pirate steals things. The title is a lie.
So, here’s the big one. Special Agent Oso. This guy is a special agent who helps kids do some rather mundane everyday tasks. He can operate a car, train, and airplane. Yet he needs help to fold a piece of paper. How the hell can he drive when he can’t even fold a stupid piece of paper in half without instructions! He is a moron! An absolute idiot! How could he ever have been hired as a special agent?
Not everything is bad. I like Handy Manny. He doesn’t dumb things down for kids. He tells things like they are. And the show is actually educational! It shows kids how to fix things! However, they speak strangely, saying the occasional word in Spanish, then the same word in English. No one talks like that. Other than that, it’s a solid show.
Do you agree or disagree? Are today’s kids shows dumbed down too much?