Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thomas the Train and Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer

Well, "bust my buffers." I can't believe my little ol' blog causes such a ruckus.    An entry in August has quickly become my most read.   
I suspect some people got upset when I suggested that Thomas the Train mixed sexism with its message of being nice, working hard, and being honest.  I also mentioned that, according to Google, lots of others agreed.
Boy, mention sexism and some people have a one track mind. You'd think I'd suggested it promotes communism.
Causing "confusion and delay" is not my intent. And not to take anyone off track, but may I suggest that when one considers the time period in which the story originated the original show isn't sexist, but merely old-fashioned? Although some people say communist.
This thought occurred to me as I watched the 1964 classic Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer with my family. (Let's just get this out of the way: we all know you should watch tv with your kid and teach him or her your values, not expecting entertainment to do it for you. That's kind of the point of this blog entry.) When Rudolph ran away, Donner tells Mrs. Donner to stay home because looking for Rudolph was "man's work."  Those silly female reindeer didn't stay home, though. Mrs. Donner and Rudolph's girlfriend go out to look for him anyway.  Later, the narrator says, “They were all very sad about their friend, but they knew the best thing was to get the women back to Christmas Town." (What would their plans have been otherwise--hang around and play reindeer games?)
Is Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer sexist? What about Thomas?
Well, our world changes.  In defense of Rudolph, only one of these stories has the opportunity, as it moves from station to station and series to series, to change. 
Thomas the Tank Engine first appeared in a book in 1946. The first appearance in a tv series was 1984. Thomas chugged onto American tv in 1989. It has had several overhauls.
The original characters were male. Emily wasn't introduced until Season 7. Season 10 brought Rosie. Assorted smaller female characters have been added as well.
What does that tell me?
Someone else thought the show was a little sexist, or old-fashioned, too.

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