The PBS cartoon Arthur is shockingly entering its 22nd season as one of the longest continuously running children’s shows on television. For those of you who didn’t grow up with it or aren’t being forced to watch PBS Kids regularly, the show is effectively a series of moral lessons about a group of kids growing up and handling different life events such as bullying, medical problems, friends moving away and how to deal with them. It’s a very gentle show and appropriate viewing material for young children.
That’s what’s made its recent premiere so surprising to a lot of people. In the season premiere episode, Mr. Ratburn and the special someone, the children in the show attend their 3rd-grade teacher’s wedding to discover that he’s marrying another man. The show’s reveal has been widely embraced by progressive media as a huge step forward in the continued representation of LGBTQ+ characters in popular media.
Congratulations Mr. Ratburn! 🌈🐀https://t.co/8ejkwU1sfU
— GLAAD (@glaad) May 14, 2019
I am curious as to what is rooting the decision from a creative standpoint. Usually, decisions like this are made for more cynical reasons for normalizing progressive norms in children at a young age. Usually, this takes the form of extremely cynical methods (IE: Captain Planet‘s diverse cast of one child of every race) or as we’ve seen with the pernicious and heavily sexualized web series Queer Kids Stuff which teach more advanced and worrying sexual concepts to young children. The left understands the value of inculcating children at a young age to de-fang traditional notions of gender which they fear contribute to sexism/racism/homophobia/etc.
A parent who watched the episode yesterday evening and contacted LifeSiteNews and contrasted the reactions to the cartoon characters to those of her children.
“The [cartoon] children are a bit surprised but mostly nonchalant about the whole thing,” she wrote from Topeka, Kansas. “Needless to say, in the real world, our children were shocked and confused.”
Arthur is a pretty tame show, all things considered. Mr. Ratburn is an already established character so it’s unlikely the show is going to flaunt this and alter his character radically to pander. The reveal itself is also quite understated and doesn’t flaunt the character’s evident sexual orientation as a big deal.
Ultimately, when it comes to matters of sexuality, particularly the education of young children, the decision of how and when to discuss these things is up to parents, not broad culture or PBS. It’s that encroachment that upsets most parents more than the content itself.
Fun Fact: Louder With Crowder’s Steven Crowder, a conservative comedian, and late-night host voiced the Brain on Arthur for several years as a child actor
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