Thomas The Right Wing Tank Engine

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Hattip to the ever vigilant Christopher Johnson at Midwest Conservative Journal.  My kids loved Thomas the Tank Engine videos when they were little back in the nineties.  Memories of those times still brings a smile to my face when I see some Thomas the Tank Engine trinket for sale in a store.  Now I learn that I was not only entertaining them, I was also indoctrinating them in my political views.

A Canadian academic, surprise!, Shauna Wilson, has disclosed the political subtext underlying the Tank Engine stories:

The show’s right-wing politics shows the colourful steam engines punished if they show initiative or oppose change, the researcher found.

She also highlighted the class divide which sees the downtrodden workers in the form of Thomas and his friends at the bottom of the social ladder and the wealthy Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt, at the top.

You know, I think she is on to something.  First, the two narrators of the cartoons, Ringo Starr and the late George Carlin, were members in good standing of the military-industrial-cartoon complex.  Second, if you play some of the cartoon videos backwards 20 or 25 times and listen carefully while running a high fever you’ll eventually hear something that sounds vaguely like “Vote Republican”.  Third, consider the above video.  On its surface it is a harmless tale of a train frightened by a float of a Chinese dragon.  However, for those trained to look diligently for a political subtext in every aspect of life, it is obviously a ploy to breed fear and hatred of Communist China in young minds.

Now I am sure there may be skeptics out there.  (I’m looking at you Tito!)  Some of you may even agree with the first comment on the story highlighting this landmark theory dreamed up on the Canadian taxpayer’s dime:  “She, like a lot of her kind, needs her arse kicking and throwing out in the street.”, but you are simply blind to this obvious attempt at political indoctrination.  I can’t wait for her analysis of the old Popeye cartoons they loved!

12 Responses to Thomas The Right Wing Tank Engine

  • Al says:

    Thomas the Tank Engine is right winged. I am a big fan & this would explain how I went from a cradle Democrat to a radical right winged pro-life Catholic who upholds Church teaching.

    PS Speaking of the military-industrial-cartoon complex, don’t forget the 3rd narrator, Alec Baldwin, who was in even better standing than Ringo or George Carlin.

  • Elaine Krewer says:

    Way back in the 60s some academic type wrote an extensive analysis of how “The Wizard of Oz” was really an allegory of the 1890s Populist movement in the U.S.

    Cecil Adams, author of the Straight Dope colums and books, wrote this in response to a reader who thought it was a satire of the French Revolution (!):

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/362/is-em-the-wizard-of-oz-em-a-satire-of-the-french-revolution

    And here is a later fisking of the “populist parable” theory:

    http://www.halcyon.com/piglet/Populism.htm

    “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

  • Blackadder says:

    The show’s right-wing politics shows the colourful steam engines punished if they show initiative or oppose change, the researcher found.

    I’ve read this sentence half a dozen times now, and I just can’t make it make sense. Is there something particularly conservative about punishing people for opposing change?

  • Donna V. says:

    Ha! Actually, Barbie is the toy which strikes me as being clearly materialist and capitalist, with generations of little girls longing for more Barbie outfits, houses, cars, etc.

    Attitudes toward Barbie also clearly demonstrate sex differences, since most of the little boys of my acquaintance were heartless when it came to Barbies. They delighted in hurling their sisters’ Barbies from bedroom windows. Barbies were also loaded in slingshots and sent flying across the yard. I remember a very funny episode of the Bernie Mac show. Bernie very quickly grew tired of “playing Barbies” with the little girl (he said in an aside “This has to be the most boring game ever!”) He caused distress when he suggested that throwing the Barbies across the room would be more entertaining than changing their clothes for the upteenth time.

  • Moe says:

    I was charmed by episodes of Thomas and Friends during my grandson’s toddler years, even though somewhat bored. Had I known that he was being brainwashed by a right-wing political conspiracy, I would have paid more appreciative attention. Now that he has advanced in age and dexterity, LEGOs have become his much-loved and most-wanted toy. I’ve recently become aware that in addition to the cool sets of pirate ships, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Space Police, LEGOs is contemplating offering new products, such as windmills, electric cars, and ECO-themed houses, all made of recycled products. I’m annoyed and feel that this Denmark-based firm is attempting to instill its political position on our children and at the same time undercutting a parent’s particular ideology. Next thing you know, they’ll be including the spotted owl and three-toed maned sloth figures with environmentally-friendly sets.

  • cminor says:

    My kids (the oldest now in their 20′s) used to watch Thomas; it’s funny but I still remember having the “Thomas the Tank Engine as a representation of English society” discussion with a friend whose youngsters also watched he show: “We engines may have our differences, but we never speak of them in front of the cars.”

    Since then, I’ve tended to think of the show as a sort of “Upstairs, Downstairs” with toy trains.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Priceless cminor! I always enjoyed the “veddy” English ambiance of the show, at least before England became overrun with soccer and non-soccer drunken hooligans.

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