Did Children's Programming Ruin my Life?

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I didn't watch much TV as a child, but what I did was educational. I rarely watched Looney Tunes or Power Rangers, instead keeping the tube fixed to PBS. And my life's been richer for it. Or so I thought. For some reason, more and more people keep stepping forward to let me know how my beloved PBS actually ruined my life?! I'm still not sold, but let's take a look at a few of the theories:

Mr. Rogers made me lazy
Last week, a finance professor at Louisiana State University made waves when he blamed Mr. Rogers for making college students lazy. Don Chance, noticing that his students always approached him asking for an A at the end of the semester, sought an explanation for his students' apparent sense of entitlement. He placed the blame on the "you're special" culture with The Red Sweatered One at the figurehead. Chance called Rogers "representative of a culture of excessive doting," where parents and other adults in children's lives simply give them what they want without making them work.

Sesame Street made me want my MTV
Quick cuts, funny sketches, dynamic characters, catchy songs. Please, Sesame Street is one super sweet birthday party away from MTV. The short segments and bright visuals that define both television staples aren't just a coincidence, though. This 1997 interview with two highers-up at both Sesame Street and MTV shows how much they have influenced each other. Having watched both (though I've seen far more Sesame Street), I can certainly see how a Sesame Street child could be drawn to the visuals on MTV and get sucked into the sex- and bling-obsessed culture.

Captain Planet made me a socialist
captain_planet.jpg I was a devout Planeteer in my days, always listening to the mullet-sporting superhero. Little did I know, he was slowly leading me down the path to anti-capitalism. All of the villains had their roots in industry, but Hoggish Greedly was a pure foil for big business. His plots always involved cutting a profit at the cost of the Earth, whether he was selling all of the fish in the ocean or running an undersea mining operation. His pig-like appearance and appetite only accented his greedy nature and apparently brainwashed me to distrust corporations as a youngin'.

Doin' the Pigeon stunted my development
As a tot, I would almost daily watch a Sesame Street video, dancing with Bert's pigeon dance and shedding a tear when Ernie sang "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon." But was that a huge mistake? Last year, several groups ripped PBS for marketing a DVD to children aged six months to two years. The 2006 release of "Sesame Beginnings," which was produced with the non-profit group Zero to Three, came under fire because it ran counter to an American Academy of Pediatrics rule that children under two shouldn't watch television. The academy warns that television at that age can shorten the attention span and impede cognitive development. The rule has fallen on deaf ears, though, since the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 43 percent of children under two watch television daily.

Of course, let's not forget that children's TV could be educational and entertaining. Here's a link to the Monsterpiece Theater rendition of the classic noir The Postman Always Rings Twice.

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July 13, 2007 - 4:18am
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