There were things I wasn’t allowed to do growing up in a conservative evangelical home. I wasn’t allowed to trick or treat because Halloween was a celebration of Satan and all things evils. I wasn’t allowed to listen to current music like Debbie Gibson, NKOTB when they were still New Kids on the Block, Kris Kross, and Vanilla Ice. (In 7th grade, my best friend, Tara, introduced me to the world of alternative. Oh mid to late 90s alternative, I hug you in my mind.) Movies of a certain rating were out, (for which the adults in my church youth group made fun of me.) I wasn’t allowed to watch certain shows. (Daria is my hero, Real World: Miami was awesome, and of course my parents just happened to see the episode of Friends where Phoebe describes her polyamorous sex dream.)
While I wasn’t allowed to do those things because God needed my mind grapes to be pure, there were some things I wasn’t allowed to watch because they were “stupid”. The main offenders: Scooby Doo and Pee Wee Herman. At the time it was so unfair, you guys! Everyone else is watching them! You don’t understand me at all! *angst grunt*. But now, I get it.
This morning, Rachael was watching Friends of Heartlake City, a Lego Friends cartoon. Let’s just set aside the fact that Lego in no way needed to be girlified in the first place. Neither of my two girls have had their delicate sensibilities offended by the vibrant primary color scheme of regular Legos. Rachael thinks the Star Wars Lego sets are awesome.
I didn’t watch the entire episode because I was puttering around the house while Mike supervised the girls. But I saw enough to know that I am never letting them watch that show again. Here’s why.
1) It’s incredibly dumbed down.
These teenage girls make every little thing a problem solving issue. Even their teacher was a complete dumbass. They accidentally left a person behind on a boat dock and the teacher asked what should they do. While I get that perhaps it was an opportunity to let the girls take the lead, to me it just highlights that even the women in their lives are complete airheads. If you want strong girls, it starts with strong women leading by example.
2) It makes being smart “uncute”.
The plot involved the girls winning a cruise by presenting the best idea to help dolphins avoid fishing vessels. While they are out implementing their idea, the computer navigation fails, leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere. They don’t have cell service or a compass, (because back up is lame?) so they have to figure out how to get back to shore another way. Then, one of the girls has a smart idea. They should use the position of the setting sun to determine direction. Yes! Great! Good thinking!
But then…THEN, someone else has a “better” idea. Look! The dolphins want us to follow them. They want to help us get home!
First of all, everyone knows you never go with a dolphin to a second location. They’ll play hackeysack with your body for funsies. Second, and more importantly, what the fuck was wrong with the first plan? I guess thinking of something smart and sensible isn’t as adorable as following the goddamn dolphins. And God forbid they do something that goes over the heads of younger watchers. Then they might have to learn something.
And before you think that I have something against cuteness in general…
3) It makes the teaspoon of water you can drown in look deep.
The girls arrive at the dock in wellies and rain slickers, because science. They see a small sailboat and assume that’s what they’ll be taking out. But then their teacher arrives, looking super sun and fun ready, and informs them that they’ll actually be sailing on the tricked out yacht on the other side of the dock. Then, all of a sudden, the girls are all, OMG, you guys! We’re totes not dressed for a yacht. We have to go change! When they come back, we know they’re smokin’ hot because they’re in their 2 pieces, walking, posing, and making pouty faces in super sexy slow mo. Even the yacht boy notices their adolescent hotness. Yes. There’s a yacht boy.
At the end of the show, I declared that the girls are never allowed to watch Lego Friends again. It boils girls down to cute, animal loving idiots who are obsessed with looking right, rather than focused on their scientific mission. It miserably fails at trying to be smart, rather than actually modeling what it is to be smart. It doesn’t raise the bar, but lowers it to lowest common denominator stereotypes. When Rachael asked why she wasn’t allowed to watch that anymore, I explained my reasons to her in detail. We discussed these different scenarios and why I felt she could do better than what they presented. And then, I boiled it down to one succinct reason, which I believe encompasses the entirety of my argument.