Monday, July 6, 2020

Should a preschool cartoon make me feel this cynical?

Our six-year-old spent a couple days binging on the Rainbow Rangers cartoon, even though he’s a little old for it.

It’s basically a preschool version of Captain Planet and the Planeteers with that CGI that makes all the characters look like they are made of plastic. It does have a theme song that has the ear worm of any three given Eurovision entries combined. Honestly, neither of his parents think much of it.

However, there is one thing about the show that I find striking. The closest thing the show has to a villain is morally dubious businessman Preston Praxton, who makes Mayor Humdinger from Paw Patrol look like Doctor Doom. Quite a bit of the time, the heroes thwart him by giving him a financially viable alternative to his environmentally devastating ways.

Okay, the tv show is for a younger audience so peaceful conflict resolution is part of the package. And, as an educational, environmental show, showing alternatives and not just saying pollution is bad is pretty important.

However, the extent that the heroes help him out is sometimes astonishing to me. In one story, they agreed to actually flat-out manufacture an alternative fishing net that was safer for turtles. Another time, they agreed to let him photograph them instead of wild animals. (I know it wasn’t meant to be creepy but they are nine-year-old girls!)

I honestly feel that the show leans towards teaching that industry and business are at least as important as saving the planet. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing. I think appealing to enlightened self-interest may result in change, while appealing to altruism might not.

Should a program for preschoolers make me feel so jaded and cynical?

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