Monday, April 26, 2010

Selling Green

Dave e-mails to report that SpongeBob SquarePants wasn't the only kid's show going green on Earth Day:

I had the same thought yesterday morning. My 6 year old daughter got to learn about the importance of turning off appliances in your house and your neighbor's house on Handy Manny and how wind power makes the earth happy on the Imagination Movers. When the 'next up' commercial told me how Phineas and Ferb were going to discover the importance of doing something for the earth, I decided to get in the spirit of Earth Day. I told my daughter to turn the TV off and play with Lego's instead.

Now that's a true conservationist approach. I was spared being lectured at by cartoon characters on Earth Day this year, but I hope that Phineas and Ferb don't start taking themselves too seriously. With the decline of SpongeBob, Phineas and Ferb has become my favorite show that my kids watch.

In Saturday's WSJ, Jonathan Last noted the mixed message inherent in another well-known children's television character's crusade to get kids to think and act green:

Fior the most part, "Bob the Builder" is about normal kids' stuff: teamwork, conflict resolution, taking turns and the like. The show isn't overtly political--Bob's catchphrase, "Yes we can!" predates the Obama campaign. Instead, it peddles a slightly hectoring brand of environmentalism. Ever since Bob discovered his inner environmental conscience, he's been teaching kids about believing in recycling and being kind to Mother Gaia. "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has become another one of the show's catchphrases. That's fine so far as it goes--aside from those evil Republicans, who doesn't love the planet?

But it's a little rich having Bob indoctrinate children about "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" while simultaneously prompting these children to beg their parents for plastic Bob the Builder trucks, and latex Bob the Builder balls, and plush Bob the Builder dolls. All of which are manufactured in far-away lands and shipped to our fair shores by the carbon-gobbling container-shipful. Bob the Builder is like one of those evangelists who lectures on the virtues of living green before hopping onto a private jet and flying back to his mansion in Nashville.

Think he's talking about anyone in particular?