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Are My Kids’ Favorite Cartoons Too Political?

We’ve all worried whether wacky, violent and fast-paced – sometimes frantic –kiddie cartoons are good for our youngsters. But do their creators have an ulterior agenda as well? Do you find yourself scratching your head as you watch TV cartoons for kids? Wondering if there’s an agenda there? It turns out that some children's television shows actually may be bad for young kid's brains – and it has nothing to do with any political message. It appears that children may not concentrate and focus very well after watching fast-paced programming. 1 “Researchers from the University of Virginia showed 60 four-year olds a nine-minute chunk of what they called an ‘animated kitchen sponge’ cartoon,” reports Leslie Wade for CNN. “The experts then tested the children's memory and thinking skills and compared their scores to other youngsters, who had watched a slow-paced educational cartoon or drew pictures with crayons and markers.” 2 It turns out that the pre-schoolers who watched the fast-paced shows did much worse on the thinking tests than those in the two other groups who scored about the same, reports Wade. “The researchers suspect that the brain gets overtaxed or tired from all of the stimulation from the fast-paced cartoons leading to lower scores.” 3 “Typically, children begin watching cartoons on television at an early age of six months, and by the age two or three, become enthusiastic viewers,” reports a series of essays from Bowling Green State University. “This has become a problem because too many children are watching too much television and the shows that they are watching (even if they are cartoons) have become violent and addictive. The marketing of cartoons has become overpowering in the United States and so has the subliminal messaging. The marketing is targeted toward the children to cause them to want to view the cartoons on a regular basis, but the subliminal messaging is for the adults’ to target them into enjoying the ‘cartoons.’ This is unfortunate because children see material that is not appropriate for their age group. Children who watch too much are more likely to have mental and emotional problems, along with brain and eye injuries and unexpectedly the risk of a physical problem increases.” 4 But are they too political as well? “I'm a huge fan of Pixar Animation Studios and pretty much all Pixar movies,” says FamilyFans founder, Mike Nappa. “In fact, my John Lasseter autograph hangs proudly above my collector's edition Woody and Buzz Lightyear dolls, and my wife owns one whopping share of Disney stock to boot. Still, my fandom doesn't erase the question being raised more and more lately: Is Pixar too political for my kids?” As of June 2013, every single one of Pixar’s 14 full-length films has charted at #1 in box office receipts on its opening weekend. That’s a lot of clout that could be used to further political agenda, subtle or otherwise, in a local multiplex. But is that the case with Pixar? 5 The Oscar-winning animated film, Brave, seems a good place to start the discussion, writes Nappa. “Some see Brave as an inspiring. politically-neutral story that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit. Others...not so much. These (generally conservative) folks see Brave as just another feminist sermon about how girls must throw off the chains of their male-dominated society in order to "change their fate" and realize their true potential as women. Is Brave a family-friendly tale of courage and adventure, or feminist propaganda designed to manipulate your child’s moral beliefs? 6 Is it moral manipulation or just hot air? Plot themes and casting choices also lean reliably leftward, including: Al Gore-style environmentalism (in WALL-E); feminist struggles (Ratatouille; Brave); and LGBT lifestyle endorsements (Up; Finding Nemo). “Additionally, director Jan Pinkava indicates that Ratatouille was originally conceived as a ‘coming out’ metaphor for gay men,” writes Nappa. “Regardless, most parents tend to ignore the outcries of moral manipulation.Those charges are overblown, they say, having more to do with political agendas for those engaged in culture wars against Hollywood than with the studio’s actual intent. 7 Ethicist Kyle Munkittrick says he is worried about “the way in which an entire generation sees life and reality is being shaped.” Parents of all ages (both Republican and Democrat) are making a lifelong habit of enjoying animated movies with their kids. This family affair crosses Red-State/Blue-State boundaries and has become a normal part of American culture. 8 “Skeptical parents see repeated attempts at values manipulation toward liberal causes,” writes Nappa. “This includes villains portrayed as corrupt caricatures of real-world Democratic party opponents. For instance in real life, Pixar head John Lasseter calls oil companies “über bad guys.” Voila! Big oil is conveniently cast as the villain in Cars 2. Other progressive bogymen cast in Pixar films include: greedy corporations (Monsters Inc., Toy Story 2); intrusive government (The Incredibles, Toy Story 3); and non-environmentalists (WALL-E, A Bug’s Life).” 9

Related Topics: Christian, Love And Family, Faith, Love, Good News, Opportunity, Education, Cartoons, Children

Scooby Doo


10 Life Lessons from Cartoon Characters

From Scooby-Doo and the gang to G.I. Joe to Papa Smurf, our favorite childhood cartoon characters didn't just entertain us on Saturday mornings, they taught us valuable life lessons.

Related Topics: Children, Life Lesson, Kids, Family, Cartoons, Cartoon, Life Lessons, Entertainment


Cartoongate and the Long Road to Civilization

Twelve political cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad tell us more about Western fears of Islam than they do about Muslim attitudes.

Related Topics: Faiths, Muslims, Muslim, World, Syrian Muslim Response, Bloodthirsty Terrorist, Muslim Outrage, Islam, Cartoons, Speech, Editorial Rationale