What Our Children Watch Matters

In July 2017, a website called Intellectual Takeout posted an article titled, “How Classic Cartoons Created a Culturally Literate Generation”  written by Annie Holmquist. I must admit that this is something I never considered, but after I read the article, I was impressed by the writer’s idea.

The article states:

I recently picked up Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court for the first time. Finding the plot rather amusing, I began relaying it to my father over the weekend. Because he had never read the book, I was rather surprised when he began asking informed questions about the story. In no time at all, he was the one schooling me on plot elements I had not yet reached.

“Wait a minute,” I asked. “Are you sure you’ve never read this book?”

“No, never have,” he replied, “but I saw a cartoon version of the story when I was younger and everything I know comes from that.”

His revelation was intriguing, and to be honest, not the first of its kind. Like many in the Boomer generation, my father grew up watching classic cartoons, numbers of which were produced by the likes of Warner Bros.

But those cartoons did more than mind-numbingly entertain a generation of children. They also introduced millions of young people to key facets of cultural literacy, particularly in the realm of literature and music.

Beyond the aforementioned case of Mark Twain’s novel, these cartoons introduced children to stories such as Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde through the medium of Bugs Bunny. Key quotations and scenes from William Shakespeare’s works were the main theme in a Goofy Gophers cartoon known as A Ham in a Role. And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha was placed front and center in a Walt Disney short called Little Hiawatha.

Perhaps even more famous than the literature references are the many ways in which cartoons introduced children to the world of classical music, including both instrumental and operatic selections, one of which is the famous Rabbit of Saville.

There were a lot of criticisms of cartoons back in the fifties and sixties–watching the coyote drop things on the roadrunner would make children violent or encourage them to do stupid things. Somehow I don’t remember anyone attaching a rocket to themselves to enable them to run faster, but I might have missed something. We all knew that Tom and Jerry was not real.

The article also notes that the early cartoons were an introduction to classical music for many children:

In fact, as the famous pianist Lang Lang testifies, it was Tom and Jerry’s rendition of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody in The Cat Concerto which first inspired him to start piano at age two.

The article concludes:

These examples just brush the surface of the cultural literacy lessons which the old cartoons taught our parents and grandparents. Even if they never learned these elements in school, they at least had some frame of reference upon which they could build their understanding of the books and music and even ideas which have impacted culture and the world we live in today.

But can the same be said of the current generation? Admittedly, I’m not very well-versed in current cartoon offerings, but a quick search of popular titles seems to suggest that the answer is no. A majority of the time they seem to offer fluff, fantasy, and a focus on the here and now.

In short, neither schools, nor Saturday morning cartoons seem to be passing on the torch of cultural knowledge and literacy. Could such a scenario be one reason why we see an increased apathy and lack of substance in the current generation?

The lady may be on to something.

 

Things That Began Well Don’t Always End Well

This is my eulogy for Fox News. I remember Fox News Sunday when Tony Snow was hosting it. It was balanced and informative. That has changed in recent years. I enjoy Tucker Carlson. I understand we may not agree on everything, but he is fair, logical, and informative. I used to enjoy Hannity and Colmes when they debated both sides of an issue. I guess the fairness and balance of Fox News will be a distant memory.

The Los Angeles Times posted an article yesterday about some changes to Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox as it prepares for a merger with Walt Disney Company. 21st Century Fox created a new company, Fox Corp., made up of Fox News Channel and Fox broadcast network.

Yesterday The Washington Post reported that Paul Ryan will be a board member for Fox Corp., the new parent company of Fox News.

The Washington Post reports:

Last week, Ryan reportedly told a crowd during a lecture in Vero Beach, Fla., that the Democrat who defines the race as one about Trump and Trump’s personality could beat him. But he quickly backtracked on Twitter to clarify that he believes Trump deserves to win.

“To be clear, GOP wins elections when they’re about ideas not when they’re personality contests like Dems & media want. We’re clearly better off because of @RealDonaldTrump,” Ryan tweeted. “His record of accomplishment is why he’ll win re-election especially when compared to Dems’ leftward lurch.”

Ryan will serve on the seven-member board along with Murdoch, Fox’s founder, and his son, Lachlan Murdoch, Fox’s chairman and chief executive.

I believe the choices currently being made will be the end of Fox News as the most-watched news network in America.

The Numbers–Do They Actually Matter?

On January 6th, The Conservative Tribune posted an article about illegal immigration.

The article reported:

According to an Economist/YouGov survey, a jaw-dropping 93 percent of Americans believe that illegal immigration is a problem.

“A wide-ranging Economist/YouGov survey gauged the level of concern Americans have on the issue to find that only 7 percent of the overall public say illegal immigration is ‘not a problem’; 2 percent of Republicans, 7 percent of independents and even 12 percent of Democrats agree with the statement,” The Washington Times reported.

There are differences in how serious people believe the immigration problem is, but those who shrug off illegal immigration are few and far between.

“40 percent of Americans overall say illegal immigration in the U.S. is a ‘very serious problem’; 73 percent of Republicans, 38 percent of independents and 15 percent of Democrats agree,” The Times explained.

“22 percent overall say illegal immigration is a ‘somewhat serious problem’; 19 percent of Republicans, 21 percent of independents and 26 percent of Democrats agree,” the paper summarized. Another 24 percent of Americans said that it was a “minor problem.”

At the same time, the Economist/YouGov survey revealed some inconvenient results for liberals.

When respondents were asked if they trusted Republicans or Democrats to deal with border security, a higher percentage — 31 percent — said “Republicans.” Meanwhile, 62 percent thought Congress should compromise with the president to end the government shutdown.

It seems as if most Americans are aware of the problems associated with illegal immigration regardless of what the media is trying to tell us. A border wall is a good idea. However, we also need to do something about America’s very broken immigration system. Our current immigration laws have been exploited by major corporations to replace American workers with cheaper workers. This has been done not only on the low end of the pay scale, but also on the higher end.

On June 3, 2015, The New York Times reported:

Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

Of course that was legal immigration, but it was a typical case of a corporation using a bad law to its advantage.

I don’t know if the wall will actually be built. It should be. The wall is opposed by Democrats (present and future voters–many illegals are currently voting in our elections) and Republicans (U.S. Chamber of Commerce members who support illegal immigration because it depresses wages in the lower sectors of the economy and increases their profits). We have reached a point where our representatives not only do not represent us–they have forgotten to represent the best interests of America.

Fact Meets Theory

John Sexton posted an article at Hot Air today about some parents who decided to try to raise their children ‘without feeling a lot of cultural pressure related to gender.’ It was an interesting experiment–eventually nature took over.

The article reports

At a time when more kids and teens are raising questions about the meaning of gender, Bonnie and Brian made a point of bringing up their children — Eliot and his sisters Toni, now 10, and Lena, 7 — in relatively gender-neutral ways. “It irked me when people said you can’t play with that because it’s a boy toy, or you can’t play with that because it’s a girl toy,” Bonnie says. They didn’t dress the girls in fancy pink baby clothes, for instance.

But no matter what Bonnie and Brian did, what happened looked a lot to them like nature taking over. The first time the family went to the local children’s museum, the parents laughed as 3-year-old Toni discovered princess dresses for the first time. She pulled them on with astonishment, as if to say, “Can you believe this?” Eliot, not yet able to talk, toddled away from her and right over to the train table.

“It’s funny,” Brian says. “I feel like I read stuff and listen to interviews with people that are like ‘Disney executives are driving little girls to want princess dresses!’ And I’m like, ‘Nope, little girls love this, and Disney’s making money off it.’ ” He laughs. “They just gravitated toward those things. They like what they like.”

Obviously not all little girls or all little boys will gravitate toward the same toys, but it is interesting to know that in most cases, there are some very basic differences between boys and girls. We need to recognize that all children are different and although they will have different strengths, there is more to the concept of gender than just a label.

The Incredibles 2

I don’t usually do movie reviews, but I took two of my granddaughters to see the movie “The Incredibles 2” today. It was thoroughly enjoyable. It did reinforce my idea that feminists have taken over Disney, but even at that it was a fun movie. It was good family entertainment.

What Did He Say?

I will admit that I am confused. Do we need to grant visas to foreign tech workers or do we not? Last Thursday, The Daily Caller posted an article that totally confused me as to what Donald Trump‘s stand on the issue was.

The article reports:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump inexplicably changed his position on the H-1B visa program in Thursday’s Fox News debate, saying Silicon Valley actually does need to import tech workers for jobs instead of hiring Americans.

“We need highly skilled people in this country,” Trump told Megyn Kelly in the debate, when she questioned him about statements he’s made that contradict the policy of reducing access to the visas outlined on his website. “I changed my mind,” he added.

I guess my question is, “Why aren’t American schools and colleges training enough tech workers?”

The article continues:

Disney, Southern California Edison and other companies have been in the spotlight recently after laying off scores or even hundreds of workers and in some cases forcing them to train their foreign replacements on H-1B visas. At the same time, big businesses continue to argue there is a shortage of high-skilled tech workers and are demanding an increased supply.

In his reversal, Trump signaled he now believes their argument, saying Silicon Valley needs “high-skilled” workers, and the country needs to bring in more high-skilled workers.

No. We need to instill a work ethic in our schools and improve our educational standards so that we create more high-skilled workers. This is possible. At one point we had the technical people to put a man on the moon. Classical education gave us those people–people with a work ethic who learned the technical skills needed. This is an education problem within the United States–it is not an immigration problem.

In Case You Ever Get This Questions In A Trivia Game

The Blaze posted an article today about “A113,” a group of numbers and letter that appears in a lot of Pixar movies. Frankly, I never noticed it, but it appears on the license plate in “Toy Story,” and also in “Cars” and “Monsters, Inc.

The Blaze has answered this burning question:

“A113 refers to a classroom number at the California Institute of Arts. It was the classroom for first year graphic design and character animation, where many of the animators at Pixar and Disney, and several other studios, discovered and mastered their craft,” User TheGhostWhoHatesSpills writes. ”The use of A113 in their films is a friendly nod to one another that they once shared a classroom without which they would never be doing what they’re doing now.”

If nothing else, this reminds us that if you have a dream and are willing to work and study to achieve it, you can. It is touching that these animators remember their roots.

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Thoughts On A Movie

Sven And Kristoff From Disney's "Frozen"

Sven And Kristoff From Disney’s “Frozen” (Photo credit: DonaldOgg)

If you are taking your children to see the movie “Frozen” and you do not want to know how the movie ends, please do not read this. I will give away the ending.

I went to see “Frozen” yesterday with some of my grandchildren. It is a Disney movie. One of the things that I noticed about the movie was how much Disney movies have changed. I enjoyed “Tangled” (Disney’s take on Rapunzel), but noticed that the future prince charming in that movie had a rather checkered past. He was not like the Disney princes of old. That was a change. “Frozen” included a character who seemed to be a prince charming, but turned out to be a cad interested only in himself. I am not sure that belonged in a fairy tale (which was essentially what “Frozen” is). Visually the movie was rather dark for the majority of the movie.

I remember that in the sixties that the feminist movement was objecting to Disney movies—they didn’t like the idea of the heroine riding off into the sunset with the handsome prince and “living happily ever after.” They felt that was an idea that was damaging to young girls. Well, in “Frozen,” they got their wish—Prince Charming is a cad. The man who wins the princess is a common laborer—he is a prince of a man, but he is not of royal lineage.

I am not sure if “Frozen” was trying to send a message. However, if the feminists were opposed to Snow White and Cinderella because of the messages in those movies, is it a stretch to think that if given a chance, they would try to put their message in a movie?

Anyway, “Frozen” is good entertainment, and I suppose it’s not a bad idea to tell little girls that the person who appears to be prince charming may not be.

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