You’ve got to be kidding me. Someone, who on twitter is called @JanissaryJones but who is known on Medium.com as Walt D, AKA Walt T. Downing, decided to go full retard (no, I’m not making fun of people with developmental disabilities, it’s a movie thing, click the link) on my four-year-old granddaughter’s favorite cartoon and character set, PAW Patrol.
It’s a show set in the fictional Adventure Bay featuring a young boy named Ryder who organizes a specialized team of dogs, each with a special talent, to perform various rescue operations, from saving an imperiled kitten to rescuing a child from a disastrous snow boarding mishap.
Each pup has a name that is suited to his or her profession. Chase is a police dog because, well…that’s what police dogs do. His main “weapon” is orange cones for controlling traffic and keeping people safe. Marshall is a dalmatian who is a firefighter (“Fire Marshall,” get it?) and who seems the clumsiest of the group.
Skye is a pink loving cockapoo who is the team’s aviator, operating her own helicopter and glider. She is one of the only two females on the team, the other being Everest, a Siberian Huskey who is the snow rescue dog.
The complete list of names and specialties are found at Wikipedia.
Anyway, it all seems to be good, clean fun for a four year old, and she loves playing “PAW Patrol” with me and her toy dogs (not PAW Patrol toys, or most of them aren’t) because, like I said, it’s fun.
However in his December 7, 2018 article for Medium The Misogyny and Authoritarianism of ‘Paw Patrol’, the aforementioned “Walt D” decided that the show is evil, mind-altering propaganda of the most misogynistic and authoritarian type, worthy of (you guessed it) Donald Trump (because Trump is controlling children’s television programming now).
Chase is presented to the young audience as the leader of the Paw Patrol. Chase’s only qualification for this leadership role is that he is a police dog and, thus, is a natural figure of authority. The Paw Patrol’s primary task is to undertake rescue operations. This is a task generally more suited to a fire and rescue team, represented by the character Marshall, or equally by an airborne team, represented by the female helicopter pilot Skye.
A police dog presented as the obvious leader and authority, despite others being more suited to the task at hand, serves as an authoritarian lesson for the young viewer. The impressionable audience is taught that the police are unquestionably the authority in our society.
First off, I never perceive Chase as the leader. The only human member of the team, Ryder, is the leader and he’s the one who hands out everyone’s assignments.
Secondly, of course Chase is an authority figure because police officers are charged with wielding authority in the performance of their duties. In any situation, a police officer’s first duty is to take control for the safety of the public and their own safety. Once they know they are in control and the situation is safe, then they can investigate.
While real life police officers have incredibly dangerous professions, any danger Chase and the other “pups” face is highly cartoonized. After all, this is a show for toddlers.
Walt further states:
In 2014, the same year that Paw Patrol writers equipped Chase with a drone, the Obama administration used drones to kill 1,147 people. While children in the West grow up watching Paw Patrol and their lovable drones, the children of the Middle East are traumatized by the U.S. drone war.
Oh good grief! Drones are not just weapons, they’re also for kids. I remember radio controlled model airplanes when I was a kid. I flew them with my Dad. It was fun. We didn’t shoot anybody. I promise.
About gender, Walt states:
During the first season and a half, only one of the seven Paw Patrol team members is female. Despite being a helicopter pilot, the female character Skye takes on a traditional feminine appearance. Skye wears a pink uniform and is noticeably smaller than the other Paw Patrol members.
In season two, a new female pup, Everest, is added to the cast. Everest is the antithesis of Skye. As a Siberian Husky, she is physically bigger, and her costume is gender neutral. However, Everest appears in only half the episodes and does not reside with the rest of the Paw Patrol. The depiction of females in Paw Patrol sends a message to the young audience that to be accepted in the workplace, a woman must take on a traditional feminine appearance.
I’ll let you in on something. My granddaughter’s favorite color is pink. I don’t know how she chose it. I suspect her Mom may have had something to do with it, but now the idea is firmly fixed in her young mind. Probably one of the reasons my granddaughter likes Skye is because of pink.
I seriously don’t believe my small granddaughter, who just started pre-school this Fall, has over-analyzed the characters Skye and Everett to the degree of projecting their roles into her future adult career possibilities. They are boy and girl dogs, and before anyone says it, the huge majority of human beings identify as typically binary male and female.
According to an article at The Houston Chronicle:
According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, which studies sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, the percentage of trans adults — an umbrella term used to describe those whose gender does not match with the sex they were assigned at birth — has doubled in the last 10 years from 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent.
In 2006, a survey discovered that 1.2 percent of Boston high school students identified as trans.
And in a recent issue of the journal Pediatrics, researchers showed that 2.7 percent of Minnesota’s youth identify as trans and gender nonconforming.
As you can see, the figures flex a bit, but let’s take them on.
If 0.6 percent of the population are gender non-conforming, then 99.4% are gender conforming.
If 1.2 percent of the Boston high school student body are gender non-conforming, then 98.8 percent are gender conforming.
If 2.7 percent of Minnesota’s youth are gender non-conforming, then 97.3 percent are gender conforming.
So busting a cartoon which, in terms of gender, plays to the vast, vast, vast majority of its child audience (and their parents and Grandparents) is a little silly.
Yes, Mayor Goodway, a woman of color, obsessed over her pet chicken, is ineffectual, but then so is her rival from a nearby town, a white male named Mayor Humdinger. These characters are played totally for farce, not as role models. Ryder and the PAW Patrol are the main characters and thus the role models.
More from Walt:
As for the show’s relationship to society and government, Adventure Bay seems to have no municipal services or social safety net. There is no public fire department, police force, or health care system. Instead, the residents rely on a Blackwater-style private enterprise that offers policing, firefighting, medical, trash and recycling services, and assorted search and rescue services.
Contrast Paw Patrol’s absence of government and emphasis on private business with British shows like Fireman Sam and Postman Pat. In these shows, the characters are clearly employees of their local government. The public servants are presented as either highly competent and brave (Fireman Sam) or as outstanding members of their community (Postman Pat). This stands in stark contrast with the incompetent and panicked Goodway of Paw Patrol.
Government? You want my four-year-old granddaughter to start sifting through a cartoon and developing concepts like government? The primary authority in her little life is her Mom and Dad. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know much about what a Mayor is, let alone a Governor, or a President. It’s not on her radar.
And before someone says something about how this cartoon is going to scar her brain later in life, I can’t even remember what I watched on (then nascent) television when I was four. I think my Mom said I watched Lassie, but I don’t recall (yes because it was about a dog in the late 1950s, I bet Walt thinks it was evil).
But here’s where Walt really goes over the top:
Paw Patrol is a soft and cuddly mirror of Donald Trump’s violent and misogynistic America. The drone war under Trump has escalated well beyond its scope under the Obama administration. Trump has suggested that police would be justified in roughing up citizens. The Trump administration and Republican-led legislature passed tax reform that redistributed wealth upward from the poor and middle class to the ultra-wealthy.
Right. Because my granddaughter even knows who Trump is let alone is psychotically obsessed by his antics. Here’s the photo the Medium put by Walt’s comment:
I’d say Walt is trying to say something here, but does it have one damn thing to do with the cartoon in question? No. He’s pandering to people’s fears and anything about Trump is “triggering” to his supposed fan base.
Walt signs off with:
While your kids are home from school these holidays, do your kids and society a favor and turn off Paw Patrol.
In honor of Walt, when my granddaughter comes over again, I’ve going to get every PAW Patrol DVD I can lay my hands on from my local public library (I wonder if Walt hates libraries because, you know…books and reading – and sorry Walt, my granddaughter loves books and being read to) and we’ll binge watch.
Oh, for more over-analyzing perspectives from Medium.com (are they obsessed?) about the PAW Patrol, try this.