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Children's Animation and "Bad Behavior"

A recent social media meme reads, "I heard a woman say she won’t let her kids watch Peppa Pig because it encourages bad behavior like jumping in puddles. I saw Road Runner and haven’t blown up anyone yet."

Laughs aside, and whether the account is true or not, this does bring up how concerned adults have become about children’s behavior, where that concern is coming from, and when that concern is or isn’t justified. For instance, there are parents who sincerely believe Peppa Pig is a bad influence. Others have excoriated every series from Caillou (whiny, bratty behavior) to Fancy Nancy (melodrama) to Sofia the First, Elena of Avalor, and The Lion Guard (too much emphasis on royalty, princess mentality).

Is children’s animation actually encouraging bad behavior, or do adult audiences focus too much on instances of normal childlike actions? Do any of today’s animated shows have good messages, about behavior or anything else, and what are they? Which animations are the best and worst when it comes to presenting characters and behavior kids should emulate? Discuss.

  • This is an interesting topic for discussion. In my experience, it's not so much the television shows themselves that are the problem, as that parents aren't doing the nurturing and moralizing that they used to. If parents aren't there to provide their kids with a value system, the kids turn to media, including television, to make sense of the world. Ultimately this creates a feedback loop, where the TV programs pander to what they think the children will like in order to make money, and therefore cut them off from their parents' values even more. – Debs 18 hours ago
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Fear and Risk in Children's Literature

The constant messaging nowadays to "stay safe" seems at odds with most of the books written for children in elementary school. Fairy tales, adventure stories, and even classic and seemingly gentle books like "The Secret Garden," encourage children to face their fears, take risks and stand up for what they believe in, even if it endangers themselves.

How are today’s children to interpret characters like the Pevensies in Narnia, Lina and Doon from the City of Ember, or Parvana from "The Breadwinner," in the context of risk-averse messaging? Do these kinds of stories still reflect our values, and what kind of benefits do children get from them?

  • I love this topic and can think of other books to discuss, too. Really, you could make the argument that if a children's lit protagonist is an orphan or in a non-traditional family situation, or situation of any kind (and most are), they're already taking risks. They may already not be safe, through no fault of their own. And I love that about good children's lit. I sense you're afraid we may lose that, and I share your concern. If no one claims this, I'm taking it! :) – Stephanie M. 2 days ago
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  • I love this topic and can think of other books to discuss, too. Really, you could make the argument that if a children's lit protagonist is an orphan or in a non-traditional family situation, or situation of any kind (and most are), they're already taking risks. They may already not be safe, through no fault of their own. And I love that about good children's lit. I sense you're afraid we may lose that, and I share your concern. If no one claims this, I'm taking it! :) – Stephanie M. 2 days ago
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Diversity and representation in the Arrowverse

Discuss racial and gender representation in the various television series that comprise the CW’s Arrowverse franchise, such as the introduction of television’s first transgender superhero in Supergirl and the normalized same-sex relationships of Legends of Tomorrow. Present examples/details and discuss their relevance to your overall analysis of the show(s).

  • Okay, good idea. You seem to be a little more focused on gender though, so maybe just tackle that for this article? Or, you could talk about race, gender, and some other difference (are there religious representations in the Arrowverse? Representations of national origin, such as a person who is from a "majority" race but not the same country as everyone else)? – Stephanie M. 2 days ago
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The Role of "Celebrity Animals"

What can "celebrity animals" — like Dolly (the cloned sheep), Tilikum (the killer whale), or even the octopus who gained fame on the Netflix Original, My Octopus Teacher — tell us about "the human socially constructed natural world" as Nick Couldry calls it?

Animals (especially charismatic species with which we feel we can identify) can certainly ground environmental issues and cause us to at least feel something for environmental crises. However, there is often unequal distribution of attention that leads to inequality: mediagenic coverage that places certain animals in a positive spotlight allows us to care more for a gorilla or elephant than for an insect or fish, for example.

Media power is prevalent in the operation of animal fame. Given that human animals are the norm in studies of celebrity environmentalism, what difference does it make to consider the role of non-human animals? Consider, with reference to one non-human animal celebrity associated with environmentalism (like Dolly, Tilikum, or others that have come about in mainstream media).

  • I think this topic is great! Other examples that immediately come to mind are Harambe (the gorilla) and Cecil (the lion), both of whom came to be heralded as martyrs in the social media court of public opinion. I also wonder if less personalized/individualized examples might also fit into this paradigm, such as the nameless polar bears precariously photographed on shrinking ice sheets, or the much discussed declining honeybee populations (whose absence has been memorialized on boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios). How do these animals function as metonymical stand-ins for ecological destruction, and does the same logic of celebrity apply without the overtly anthropomorphizing gestures of assigning a proper name. On the subject of anthropomorphism, I wonder if there's also room in article to discuss the celebrity status of fictional animal protagonists, which seems to be most common of dogs (e.g. Call of the Wild, Old Yeller, Air Bud, Marley & Me, The Art of Racing in the Rain, etc.) and horses (e.g. Kholstomer, Black Beauty, and particularly War Horse -- on page, stage, and screen). Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't recommend the prospective author to read up on the recently scholarly literature in the booming humanities discipline of "Animal(ity) Studies," whose key contributors have been Carey Wolfe, Peter Singer, Jacques Derrida, Margo DeMello, and particularly the posthumanist theories of Donna Haraway. – ProtoCanon 2 weeks ago
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  • Verrrry nice! I'm assuming you've seen a lot of animal documentaries, including Blackfish (Netflix). If you can find anything, you might also use the story of Keiko, the orca who played Willy in the Free Willy franchise, as a source. I had some other suggestions, but it kinda looks like you're covered. :) – Stephanie M. 2 days ago
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Celebrity & Pandemic: Is Celebrity Culture Dying?

During the coronavirus pandemic, we have seen celebrities and high profile people use social media in a way that has roused both negative and positive response. However, a quick internet search of celebrities and the pandemic leads to overwhelmingly negative titles: A headline for the NY Times says "Celebrity Culture is Burning" and BBC asks, "Is the age of celebrity over?" Think of images of celebrities on their private islands, flaunting their wealth, and hosting parties — all while preaching "we’re all in this together!"

To think more specifically, some examples that comes to mind include: the celebrity-sung "Imagine" video, or John Krasinski’s web-series "Some Good News," or even the host of sourdough videos made by celebrities on their Instagram stories.

How is celebrity changing/how has it changed during the coronavirus pandemic? Are there any examples or sources of joy and positive affect coming from celebrity culture? Or are the overwhelmingly negative headlines right to say that celebrity culture is burning?

  • Very interesting. I cannot say that I've seen any of these other articles you've mentioned, but I'd be curious to read them now, and see what arguments they make in defense of that thesis. I suspect one death knell for celebrity culture was that much maligned celebrities-singing-"Imagine" video, with its palpable chasm between its authors' expected reception and its actual audience's kneejerk cringe. However, on the other side of the coin, I would argue that Covid has presented new templates of celebrity that did not exist prior. Anthony Fauci and (our Canadian counterpart) Theresa Tam have long been well-known in medical and epidemiological circles, but the pandemic turned them into household names. On a different corner of the same side of the coin, I wonder if Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin would have ascended to celebrity status they way they did if not for the pandemic. Lastly, if celebrity culture is in fact declining, I wonder how much of that is necessarily a direct result of the pandemic -- correlation not being synonymous with causation. One significant (non-Covid) factor that I can see as being responsible for this decline is the rise of so-called "Cancel Culture" (which is a complicated subject, too big to unpack here), in which celebrities are being held accountable for their problematic actions/statements/views, and being stripped of their power as a result. In addition to dispossessing existing celebrities of their cultural capital, this trend may also prove to make acquisition fame a less desirable goal for others, who might be dissuaded by overwhelming public scrutiny, social media's acceleration of the process, and the knowledge that very minor transgressions can fuel Twitter-mobs just as much legitimate sexual assault and/or bigotry. Just some food for thought. – ProtoCanon 2 weeks ago
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  • Interesting. If you ask me, celebrity culture can take a hike. It turned my stomach to hear them preaching about empathy and togetherness when as you said, they weren't losing anything or making sacrifices. You could also talk about how some celebrities *attempted* to spread joy but actually exploited certain groups (e.g., celebrities or news anchors using feel-good stories of people with disabilities doing everyday things as "hope in these uncertain times," so to speak). – Stephanie M. 2 days ago
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  • I actually think that celebrity culture is, in many respects, the same as it ever was. Celebrities have always attempted to champion whatever causes were relevant to the day, even if they had no bearing on their actual lives. Furthermore, just as there have always been people willing to lavish attention and love on celebrities (and always will be) so too have there always been people willing to write them off as narcissistic, shallow and-out-of-touch. What's changed, I think, is that with the pandemic people have fewer things to distract them from the activities and sanctimony of the celebrities. Additionally, it does seem to me that the type of celebrities that people flock to are different. In other words, while people used to lionize movie stars and singers, now they are more likely to focus on the lives and actions of political figures instead. For instance, I notice lately that a lot of people have been treating the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, as if he were a god. On the opposite side are those who are doing the same thing to Dr. Fauci. At the same time, both of these people have as many utter detractors as fans, just as with any other celebrity. – Debs 5 hours ago
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How the Rugrats Reboot Will Influnece Television

On May 27, a Rugrats reboot featuring CGI animation, new character voices, and adventures with a distinct 21st-century flavor will premiere on Paramount Plus. Some fans of the original Rugrats are eager to experience the reboot and compare/contrast, while others are skeptical at best. No matter what side you’re on though, there’s no denying this reboot will influence how people see the Rugrats franchise and perhaps, associated television (e.g., Nickelodeon).

Discuss questions such as how the Rugrats reboot will influence these spheres, as well as the potential positives and negatives of the reboot itself. For example, how will the reboot’s location on a streaming service change the viewing experience and relations to the characters and plots? Do you think kids or adults will be more invested in the reboot, and why? It seems many of the new adventures will take place in the babies’ imaginations; is this a positive or negative move?

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    Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: The mental health content we need

    I was looking around this year for content during the pandemic about mental health or lack of. As a college student, I watched a fair few of my friends experience depression or widespread anxiety for the first time due to the impacts of the pandemic.

    It is no secret that this generation is calling out for resources and the destigmatization of "mental health" as a form of combating and healing. However, what next? You’ve healed from the stigma of your mental illness and you still feel like shit. Where is that story?

    I believe that the answer we need lies in the TV "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" a musical comedy from the genius mind of Rachel Bloom. The show is not a light touch of social anxiety but instead a humorous and relatable dive into personality disorders and the darker side of "mental health". In a way separate from buzz words like "representation" and "normalization", Bloom does what all good writers have learned to do, tell a universal stories through the outlandish specifics.

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      • Could perhaps start with reading some of his lesser know work , plays i.e 'The Gardeners Son' – Yama144 6 years ago
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      • He’s certainly an interesting author. But this topic seems quite broad. Is there something specific about his work the author could focus on, like the type of characters or settings being used? – Stephanie M. 3 weeks ago
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      Film

      Persona: A Journey through the Shadow in Ingmar Bergman’s Masterpiece
      Persona: A Journey through the Shadow in Ingmar Bergman’s Masterpiece
      Absences in Theo Angelopoulos’ Landscape in the Mist
      Fate in Harry Potter and Sabrina
      Inception: Anticlimactic or Satisfyingly Open-Ended?

      TV

      The Good Fight: The Real, The Plausible, and Donald Trump’s Legacy
      The Good Fight: The Real, The Plausible, and Donald Trump’s Legacy
      The Heartbreaking Symbolism of The Clone Helmet In Star Wars: The Clone Wars’s Final Episodes
      The Donald Show: Trump, Television, and Manufactured Reality
      The Portrayal of Feminism in Fleabag (2016)

      Animation

      Disney Characters That Should Get Their Own Spinoffs
      Disney Characters That Should Get Their Own Spinoffs
      Frozen: Letting Go of Gender Stereotypes?
      Daria and the Clichéd Representation of Teenagers
      The Complex Lessons of Environmentally-Motivated Animation

      Anime

      Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Breaking the mold of classic feminism
      Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: Breaking the mold of classic feminism
      Fafner in the Azure: Identity, Community, and Alienation
      Genkaku Azuma: Anatomy of a Tragic Villain
      Shiro’s Sexuality in Voltron: Legendary Defender

      Manga

      Elfen Lied’s Eugenic Underpinnings
      Elfen Lied’s Eugenic Underpinnings
      The Horrifying Appeal of Junji Ito
      One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
      Manga: How to Travel Between Dimensions

      Comics

      Monstress: World-Building With a Feminist Twist
      Monstress: World-Building With a Feminist Twist
      Why Has Batman’s Origin Remained So Iconic?
      Feminist Criticism of Society and Comic Books’ Past
      The Batman/Catwoman Wedding Is Supposed to Upset You

      Literature

      Of Mice and Men: How does Steinbeck Portray Oppression?
      Of Mice and Men: How does Steinbeck Portray Oppression?
      The Legacy of Ramona Quimby
      The Great Gatsby: Exploring 1920s Class Politics with Colour Symbolism
      Antietam: Literature Adds to America’s Bloodiest Day

      Arts

      How YouTube Commodifies Experience
      How YouTube Commodifies Experience
      Welcome to Night Vale: More Conservative Than It Seems
      Dragons: East versus West
      Social Realism, New Masses & Diego Rivera

      Writing

      Using Musical Theater as a Literary Muse
      Using Musical Theater as a Literary Muse
      The Pillars of Outstanding Stories
      The Impact of Writing on Well-Being and Self-Development
      Riddles in Rhetoric: Learning from Bilbo and Gollum about Linguistic Segregation