Lately I've been finding myself watching far too many children's programs, which is unnerving because my one-year-old is nowhere around.
I'm starting to fear for my sanity. These days whenever anyone uses any number of key words it creates in my brain a Pavlovian response forcing me to sing an annoying song or do a silly dance - or both - as depicted in one cartoon or another. I do not feel cool doing either even though according to my daughter, I am awesome at both (naturally). For example, at the grocery store a woman approached a clerk and asked where the hot dogs were. "Hot dog" is a trigger word for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Hot Dog song/dance. Before I realized it I was not-so-softly singing the tune while raising and lowering my shopping basket in time to the beat I was creating by stomping my foot.
I looked like Richard Simmons Shopping to the Oldies.
One show that I find myself watching almost daily is "Dora the Explorer," a cartoon depicting an 8-year-old Hispanic girl helping people and animals with her sidekick Boots, a talking monkey that wears large red boots. It's a nice show, I thought. The more I watched it, however, the more disturbed I became. Dora is constantly battling lakes filled with crocodiles, fast rapids filled with dangerous rocks, climbing mountains, navigating jungles and befriending wild talking animals.
Below are a series of questions I feel deserve answers to your questionable children's program.
1. Why do Dora's parents allow her to wander this perilous countryside with only a young booted monkey as a travel companion?
2. Are they trying to get rid of her?
3. Are they attempting to teach her survival skills?
4. How is escorting a baby crab to Crab Island in any way teaching Dora skills applicable to the 21st century global workforce?
5. Is there good money in animal escorting?
6. Is this how many families teach their children?
7. If so, isn't 8 years old a bit young to be scaling mountains, crossing caverns and navigating jungles?
8. Am I way off base here?
9. Do you recommend I drop off MY daughter in a remote location (Brazil?) with a monkey to fend for themselves?
10. Where does one even GET a monkey?
11. How much do they cost?
12. I think a normal, non-booted, non-talking monkey would go for around $9,000. Does this seem right to you?
13. Has Dora had a series of inoculations to insure she doesn't catch anything from Boots, an admitted wild animal that lives in the forest?
14. If not, is Dora's football-shaped head a symptom of some kind of monkey disease?
15. This is a world filled with forests of giant spiders, crocodile-filled lakes, snake mazes, etc., and we're telling our children they MUST go headfirst into the potentially deadly situation without first stopping and asking themselves, "Would it just be easier to go AROUND the lava rather than swing on questionable vines directly in the middle of 1,300-degree Celsius magma?"
16. Do you not care about critical thinking?
17. Or are all your daughters just THAT hardcore?
18. I accept the premise of your show that animals can talk. But, why, then, are several characters (horses, for instance) rendered mute and forced to continue shuttling people from one destination to the next?
19. Are there slaves in your dystopian future?
20. Is this really a message we want to send our children?
21. Why does Swiper the Fox steal seemingly useless items (to him) and then not even keep them?
22. Does he have a drug problem?
23. Does he have a mental illness (kleptomania?) that compels him to steal?
24. If so, why doesn't Dora and/or Boots get him the treatment he so badly requires?
25. I accept that Backpack is a talking/singing/magical/enchanted satchel, however why, when Dora is looking for a particular item of need, does he present five other items that aren't of any use whatsoever?
26. Is Backpack kind of a jerk?
27. Why does he say "yumyumyumyumyumdelicioso!" when the unselected items are returned?
28. Does he actually digest the unneeded items?
29. That's kind of gross, don't you think?
30. In the soccer game episode, Dora's cousin, presumably a professional athlete based on the size of the stadium and crowd, needs Dora to fill in for a missing player else her team will forfeit the game. Is the team that unprepared that they don't have a contingency for this? They only have the exact amount of people needed for a game of soccer without any alternates, substitutes or players on the bench?
31. Wouldn't the coach have been fired long ago if he prepared his team this way?
32. What realistic chance does an 8 year old have against professional adult athletes?
33. And Dora scores a goal?
34. In 20 seconds?
36. Is she some kind of soccer prodigy?
37. And after she scores the goal why is the game automatically over?
38. Isn't there, like, 89 more minutes in a soccer match?
39. Why does Dora ask for help locating things in the distance when they are clearly visible?
40. Is she nearsighted?
41. Why, then, doesn't she wear glasses or corrective lenses?
42. Can her family not afford them?
43. Wouldn't it be in their best interest to use Dora's exceptional soccer abilities to help pay for essentials such as this?
44. Because if she can score a goal against professional athletes while having crippling nearsightedness, can you imagine how well she'd do with corrected vision?
45. Instead of trying to return all of these lost animals to their mothers, why doesn't Dora call a local animal shelter or the authorities?
Thank you for your attention to these matters.
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative & marketing writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Sunnysmiles Recovery Home for Fathers Who Can't Stop Singing Children's Songs. Follow him (Kelly) on Twitter @pancake_bunny or he will find you and sing to you.