COLUMN: No kids’ show too big, no rant too small

Why is an academic over-analyzing a kids’ show? Why is the Conservative leader toasting Paw Patrol?

In what may have seemed like an April Fool’s joke, or a genuine response in error to an April Fool’s joke, the leader of the Conservative Party posted a video on Twitter in which he criticized the CBC and “kooky university professors.”

The video culminated in Andrew Scheer, top button of his dress shirt undone, holding a glass of something (whiskey?) as he toasts: “Here’s to Paw Patrol and to capitalism.”

Scheer’s Twitter video was in response to a CBC story online about a Western University criminology professor’s criticism of the children’s show Paw Patrol.

“What the what?” you ask.

Most people with children under 12 know what Paw Patrol is all about. Anyone who doesn’t, don’t go look it up. Just be glad you don’t have the theme song rattling around your head like the rest of us now do.

• RELATED: ‘Paw Patrol’ to be turned into first of multiple feature films

Scheer took umbrage with Professor Liam Kennedy’s suggestion that Paw Patrol is teaching our kids to embrace capitalism.

The show is about Adventure Bay where Ryder (a boy) and his friends (puppies of various breeds) are called upon to solve crimes and make things right.

Where’s the neoliberalism in that? Well, Professor Kennedy’s concern is that this is essentially a private police force, so, corporations presented as the source of good in the world. Meanwhile, government is portrayed as corrupt or bumbling via Mayor Humdinger and Mayor Goodway.

Thinking a little too much about this kids’ show maybe? That is, however, what academics do: they examine the minutiae of their particular area of focus. Kennedy’s coverage by the CBC is by way of a paper he published in the journal Crime, Media, Culture. Reading the abstract, the paper is as much about how criminalized individuals are depicted in children’s programming, namely, as literal outsiders.

“Sometimes a children’s show is just a children’s show,” Scheer says in his video. “Not everything needs to be hyper-analzyed through a social justice warrior worldview.”

The Tweet from the Conservative leader was met with some amusing responses on Twitter.

“Andrew Scheer is here to protect Canadians from one university professor with some thoughts on Paw Patrol. Save some strength, Andy, there may be a podcaster lurking out there with some feelings about Theodore Tugboat,” from Tabatha Southey.

“Thanks for standing up for our values Mr scheer. My son watches paw patrol (we call it PP) and always raves about how to dismantle canadian education and healthcare. God bless!” that from someone with the handle@CowOmnipotent.

“Honestly, what’s in his glass? Is he polishing off a scotch and talking about Paw Patrol?: asked Luke LeBrun.

It took very little research to see other criticisms of Paw Patrol.

A 2018 article in the online publishing platform has the headline: “The Misogyny and Authoritarianism of ‘Paw Patrol’”

From the article: “On the surface, Paw Patrol seems like harmless fun. However, the themes presented to the impressionable audience depict a misogynistic, conservative authoritarian fantasy.”

As for an authoritarian fantasy, ever seen Thomas and Friends? Now that’s a story of capitalism, repleted with its message of blind worker devotion to labour above all else.

Of course, Scheer’s tirade wasn’t about criticizing this one university professor, it was about his big picture black-and-white view of capitalism versus socialism, and what he calls the left-wing bias of the CBC.

In suggesting Kennedy’s implication is that corporations are bad and government is good, Scheer retorts: “Just remember that the next time you read an Auditor-General’s report outlining wasteful government spending.”

Take that Mayor Goodway.

There are biases throughout children’s programming, most of it overlooked by parents, probably none of it understood by kids. For decades parents have been reading Dr. Seuss books to their kids, replete as they are with progressive messaging. The most obvious of which is The Lorax with its obvious message of the interconnectedness of things, written as it was in the 1970s as the environmental movement emerged.

In the CBC article about Paw Patrol, it was said that Professor Kennedy won’t let his two-year-old watch the show now that he has seen what it is really about. While Scheer’s over-analysis of the perceived over-analysis might seem ridiculous, the banning of a kids’ show based on your perception of its underlying messaging is folly.

Better, in my opinion, to point out while watching Paw Patrol that politicians aren’t all corrupt or bumbling. Or while reading The Lorax, discuss the message inherent.

Beyond the Blackwater comparison of the Paw Patrol crew, I think the show teaches kids about co-operation and overcoming challenges no matter how daunting.

“No job’s too big, no pup’s too small,” is the theme of the Paw Patrol.

It’s hard to decide what is more ridiculous: an academic over-analyzing a kids’ TV show through a progressive lens, or the leader of one of the major political parties of Canada creating a video to attack the CBC by criticizing that academic.

Clearly there is no piece of culture too big to over-analyze, no academic too small to criticize.

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