Boys will be boys, girls will clean up

blue milk blogger saw her three year son watching the Australian animated show for toddlers “Bananas in Pyjamas.” She blogs:

I was so bewildered by it that I ended up watching the whole episode again on iview to be sure about what I was seeing.”

In the series, there are two banana adult figures and three bears, 2 girls and 1 boy, all friends. In the episode blue milk saw, the boy bear buys a Super Bear costume and then causes all sorts of trouble, getting caught up in his imagination and believing he really is a superhero. The bananas try to help out a little, but don’t get too involved, knowing they get to return home soon. So the clean up is left to the girl bears.

blue milk goes on:

Tellingly, the little girl bears deal with these problems in a way that doesn’t involve Super Bear having to know about it because he would only cause more mess if he tried to help and because they do not want to hurt his dignity or spoil his fun. Worse still, his fun interrupts their own fun and plans and when they express some irritation about it all the Bananas encourage them to be careful not to ruin the boy bear’s illusion of himself as a superhero. It wouldn’t have particularly disturbed me as a story if it was about a parent or uncle cleaning up after the little boy teddy bear…But the sight of two little girls doing the cleaning up and taking care of, instead of  having fun and adventures themselves? And the idea that the little boy got to experience the thrill of danger while the little girls got to worry about him? It all struck me as so, so wrong.”

First of all, I am amazed, once again, though I know I shouldn’t be, how universal sexism in kidworld is. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid in Australia or a kid in the USA, if it’s PBS or Disney, if it’s a movie or TV: except for the Minority Feisty, boys will be boys and girls will clean up.

The TV show blue milk describes really irks me because my whole blog, Reel Girl, is about protecting the imagination of children (and hopefully, eventually, the adults they grown into.) I guess you could look at this episode as enlightening: Look, this is just what happens in real life. Males are encouraged and supported by the world to imagine and act; females are not. But somehow, I suspect three year old children don’t get irony.

5 thoughts on “Boys will be boys, girls will clean up

  1. RE: “my whole blog, Reel Girl, is about protecting the imagination of children (and hopefully, eventually, the adults they grown into.)” Just a comment: Thank you. This is such important work. Thank you.

  2. Ugh. Who the hell lets their kids watch this garbage anyway? I think I’d shoot myself if I had to work on this sort of thing. This is why parents should pay attention to what’s on TV instead of letting the TV be a babysitter.

    I hate the way these horrible “preschool” shows talk down to children and treat them like they’re mentally disabled instead of you know… kids with developing brains.

    Do the creators of these shows think writing characters that actually have a personality other then “girl” and “boy” and “smiling adult” will corrupt children or something? Or do they think that kids are too dumb to notice that their show stinks?

    Actually, I have a friend of mine who worked on a similar sort of project where the supervisor actually told him (after he turned in a shot that he put a reasonable amount of effort into): “Yeah, your animation looks good, but why put that much effort into it? Kids don’t give a shit about the quality anyway”.

    That says a lot about the people who are in charge of these sort of things. They don’t give a shit about kids and they sure as hell don’t give a shit about the artwork or the writing either or even whether the stuff they’re writing may be seen as derogatory to some viewers. They just want to put out a product as fast and cheap as possible so they can make a quick buck.

    I’ve had the good luck to work on projects that have a reasonable amount of love and effort put into them… not everyone is so lucky.

    Sorry for the long-ish rant. This kind of crap just pisses me off, that’s all.

    • as far as who lets their kids watch, do you have kids? Its better, I think, to teach your kids to be critical observers rather than try to censor everything out, which is impossible.

    • I agree with your comment. When I was a young kid, I’ve watched Bananas in Pyjamas” before, and many other animated shows. Seriously, I was like only four and I hated all those suckish animation and boring storyline. I hated teddy bears ever since I was young. I hated Dora the Explorer because she wore so much pink. I hated Barney, with all of that kissing and hugging. I hated Noddy in Toyland. I always knew that Barney was just a normal guy wearing a lame costume. I also knew that at that time, TV technology wasn’t advanced enough for you to hold a conversation with a TV character. I knew that nobody was inside the TV, that everything you see are just projected images onto the TV screen. I arrived at all of these conclusions with my own logic, without my parents’ influence. My parents never told me that Barney was real or not real. I don’t know why people have to treat kids like they have some sort of mental illness. I already knew the entire alphabet basic numbers by the time I was three and yet, TV shows keep teaching you what you already know. The TV characters are like playing a broken record, and they don’t teach anything. If you really want to be educated, read books and go to school, just don’t watch suckish TV shows.

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