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Thomas the Tank Engine: latest member of the VRWC

Recently I happened across this ridiculous article over at The Register, which had the ominous headline:

Thomas the Tank Engine drives ‘conservative political ideology’

The article begins:

Research by the University of Alberta has chillingly revealed that kids’ TV show Thomas and Friends may be engendering a “conservative political ideology” in future generations – a repressive mindset which “punishes individual initiative, opposes critique and change, and relegates females to supportive roles”.

Shauna Wilton and friends from the uni’s Department of Social Sciences analysed 23 episodes of the programme, and noted that while it “conveys a number of positive political values such as tolerance, listening, communicating with others and contributing to the community”, there is a dark side to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Dark side? Like what?

Wilton claimed that “storylines in several episodes that divided the characters into different social classes and punished those who tried to gain individual power”. She said: “Any change is seen as disrupting the natural order of things.”

Individual power– you know, like every single dictator for the last umpteen thousand years has tried to acquire. Why would we want to discourage people that want to gain power over others for their own purposes, after all? We might just put a dent in the plans of the next budding world conqueror, after all. And heaven forfend that we not worship change for change’s sake; it would be a heresy to say that ‘if it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change’.

Furthermore, “of 49 main characters listed in the show, only eight were female, reflecting a general trend among children’s programming”.

I’d love to see her analysis of the Smurfs, which famously had only one female Smurf.

Wilton concluded: “We tend to think of children’s TV shows as neutral and safe, but they still carry messages. Eventually these children will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now, partially influenced by shows like Thomas and Friends, are part of that process.”

In other words, if we don’t start hitting them with liberal propaganda when they’re young, they might not grow up to be teenage radicals that we can mobilize for the liberal cause du jour, wanting change purely for change’s sake without stopping to consider the consequences.

Wilton’s findings, presented earlier this year to the Canadian Political Science Association, will doubtless add to a growing sense of unease among parents following the news that Disney, among others, punts “strictly heterosexual values” to wide-eyed kiddies.

Again, heaven forfend that we not hit the kids with messages that are pro-GLBT before the kids are old enough to even start thinking about sex. That might be conservative, you know.

Strike a blow for the VRWC! Buy your kids Thomas the Tank Engine videos and toys today!

(Disclaimer: I’m not a paid spokesman for anyone or any company. Showing your kids Thomas videos may not have as positive effect in reinforcing conservative values as giving them good solid conservative literature to read.)

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