Thursday, February 09, 2006

Analyzing Thomas, Bob The Builder and Other Tales

I'm the only one in my family that doesn't have a master's degree. My husband, my mom, my dad have them and even my sister (Single parent/genius) is about one credit away from her masters. I have no desire to formally further my education. I would rather read fiction than nonfiction. I don't want to write papers and do research. I want to spend my free time playing with Eric, reading books and putzing around the house, cooking and doing Mom stuff. (And taking naps whenever possible) In addition to my full time job, this is already a solid workload. I can't even comprehend what it would mean to have to do homework.

But my analytical mind keeps chugging away in the background. I was talking to some friends last night about my perception of British children's programming. I think there is a very classist subtext in Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder. I pay a lot of attention to the morals they are teaching the children. Thomas is particularly bad. The lessons are:

"Do as you're told."
"Think inside the box. Don't get too creative."
"Follow the rules."
"Be what you were born to be. Your dreams and ambitions will only get you in trouble."

There are no female characters, other than the "new" train Emily. None of the train drivers or railroad employees are female. Other than Lady Hatt it's a boy's world. There are lots of girls who love Thomas.

Bob the Builder is much better. Bob's business partner is a woman-carpenter and lots of the talking trucks are female. However, they imbue inanimate objects with the soul and desire of a human, but with the limitation of whatever truck they happen to be. So, the moral is still: You were born to this, and it will always be this.

However, I do like the teamwork aspects of Bob The Builder. I like how they help each other out. I like how they treat construction/manual labor as worth-while.


Blogger teachingmum1970 said...

In defense of Thomas, who incidentally has built up my sons' language skills to an incredible degree, have you not heard of the new road work crew?
Alfie and Jack are at least two of the machines that come to mind immediately and their forewoman is called "Miss Jenny" and she's a very no nonsense sort of girl who dosen't take any crap from anyone. And I don't know too many 5 year olds who turn around after stopping running and tell me that their driver "applied my brakes just in time"!

6:31 AM  
Blogger Margaret said...

I haven't seen much very recent Thomas. So I haven't seen the new road crew yet. My son prefers to watch his videos to the newer episodes. I'm glad they're incorporating more female characters, but this show dates back to 1989, not the 1960's (allthough I know the stories go back to the '40's). So, I don't think there was much excuse for an all-male cast to begin with.

I don't understand why they waited 15+ years to add some women. It's not just the lack of women that bugs me though. It's the conscipted roles that everybody must follow.

Thanks for reading!!

9:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home