December 15, 2009

Thomas The Tory

Just heard this on the CBC, but the incredulous tone of the UK's Daily Telegraph is a bit more entertaining:

Prof. Shauna Wilton, a Canadian political scientist, recently presented an analysis of Thomas The Tank Engine, at a conference. Did you notice this? Apparently the whole thing's a sexist, classist, throwback conservative brainwashing tool. Or something:

In one episode, Thomas whistles impatiently at a police officer and is replaced with a different engine as a punishment for showing dissent.

"It also represents a conservative political ideology that punishes individual initiative, opposes critique and change, and relegates females to supportive roles," she said. "Any change is seen as disrupting the natural order of things."

But Prof Wilton insisted she show was not all bad...

Maybe not for a boy. What's this ivory tower academic doing letting her 3-year-old daughter watch boys' television in the first place, hmm? That girl's place is in the play kitchen!

Thomas the Tank Engine attacked for 'conservative political ideology' [ via cbc]


Of course Thomas reinforces a 'conservative' viewpoint. Children love and crave stability.

They're a lot like Republican House members at a leadership course in the Caribbean. It's all about stability, comfort, and continuity, right up until the rum punch. Then it's a drug-fueled-male(?)-escort Bacchanal. Or in the case of children, consistency and order, right up until the juice box kicks in, then it's nothing but running about with no clothes on, chasing the cat, and crayons on the walls.

Seriously, Thomas is taken nearly 60 years out of context. It was written (the shows are NOT a sound basis for judging the books) by a reverend. Of course they are going to be about the status quo.

The Telegraph's reader comments are completely wack-a-doo, and a real treat to read. It's nice that the US doesn't have a monopoly on idiocy.

BTW: the television series was adapted for the screen by a WOMAN. So our 'professor' can make of that what she likes.

Any critical watcher of Thomas knows that the theme of just above every episode is 'mind your business and don't think too much of yourself or you'll be put in your place.'

What were the lyrics of that 'accidents will happen' song again?

Accidents Will Happen
(composed by Mike O'Donnell & Junior Cambell)

Britt Allcrot Inc.

Thrills and spills on the railway, it's a life of happiness

But sometimes impatience can lead to carelessness

Some think they are smart cats, and some just know it all

But sooner or later we all find out that


Accidents happen now and again, just when you least expect

Just when you think that life is okay, fate comes to collect

Accidents happen now and again, when people or trains get smart

If you don't concentrate on the thing that you're doing

Accidents will happen, just like that

Your best-laid plans can turn upside down if you get too confident

Sometimes you will slip and slide if that's Lady Luck's intent

One minute you're riding high, the next you're on the ground

But please remember, whatever the weather

You must take care 'cause

Accidents happen now and again, sometimes just by chance

You gotta pick yourself up and dust yourself down

Put it down to experience

Accidents happen now and again

Just don't take it all to heart

If you don't concentrate on the thing that you're doing

Accidents will happen, just like that

The warning signs are there for us to see most of the time

But sometimes we take chances and ignore the danger signs

Fate can surprise you, with no reason or rhyme

Make sure you learn your lesson you'll know better next time


Accidents happen now and again

Sometimes just by chance

You gotta pick yourself up and dust yourself down

Put it down to experience

Accidents happen now and again

Just don't take it all to heart

If you don't concentrate on the thing that you're doing

And whatever you're doin' is not what you're thinking

Accidents, incidents

Accidents, incidents, accidents happen, just like that!

And I thought the whole agenda was to sell more toys.

I've been intrigued by the Thomas series' insistence on "usefulness"; not goodness, not helpfulness--usefulness. Each serves his purpose to the state. The series feels much more Stalinist than anything else to me.

Although my son doesn't really like the show and would much prefer if we were to watch Wonder Pets, Thomas fascinates me and I control the remote.

When I watch Thomas, all I can think of is how incompetent Sir Topham Hatt is. Broken rail lines, decaying bridges, poorly marked closed lines, trains off schedule, and trains doing whatever they want.

If not ousted, Master Hatt may want to consider employing some Total Quality Management system.

Tsk tsk... the only place a guy like him would find a job today would be CEO of GM or one of our large financial institutions.

I'm with Brian on this. I keep waiting for an episode where Sir Topham Hatt is brought before the Parliament and ask to account for the Sodor Trainlines poor safety record. I used to pity the people who took the LIRR or NJTransit...

We watch Thomas in our household & I'm pretty sure our two-year-old son isn't being brainwashed. Although he does like to smash things together & announce, "And THEN there was trouble." Hmmm...

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