Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mechanical Slavery and talking nose hair trimmers

An inordinate amount of my life in the past couple of years has been spent watching cartoons or some sort of children’s programming and I’ve learned a lot from it. For example, did you know that birthday cakes come out of the oven completely decorated – with candles? Pogo sticks are a reliable and viable transportation option and can also be used to reach things when a ladder is unavailable. And very rarely in life does anybody win or lose anything – usually they just tie and even if they do win, they share their prize with everybody!

But the thing that’s really starting to boggle my mind are the rules for object personification. Aaron watches Bob the Builder, which I love, and all of Bob’s machines are alive and they talk and have different personalities etc. Bob also has other tools that he uses and those are just inanimate objects. So it appears that in Bob’s world only vehicles are alive. However, I’ve seen episodes with boats, and airplanes and none of those were alive, only backhoes and dump trucks and cement mixers have become sentient beings for some reason.

Now the thing I don’t get is whether these machines are being exploited in a slavery type situation. I mean it seems that they’re helping Bob freely but there’s never any talk of compensation. There was an episode showing how Bob bought one of them from a dealer –Hello can you say "slave trade"? How can Bob "own" these machines who are obviously capable of independent thought and action. He even won one of them in a contest. How does that work? Indentured service? I don’t get it. What kind of message are we really sending here people? Don’t you think some type of TV rating is needed: "this show is rated M for mature, due to themes of slavery and mechanical life form discrimination".

Then you’ve got a show like Handy Manny in which none of the vehicles are alive but the tools are. Like the hammer and the screwdriver etc. are alive and talk. Now I find this completely irrational. I mean what kind of life can a Philips screwdriver live? All he can do is screw – and not even the fun kind of screwing. My main problem with this concept is where do you draw the line? If hand tools are alive then what about other things? Light bulbs, radios, toasters, nose hair trimmers, conceivably your underwear could be alive. Do you really want your underwear talking to you? I for one don’t want to have conversations with my DVD player especially late at night when I’m watching Pride and Prejudice and replay the foggy moor scene at least 5 times; "Come on, not again! He’s wearing high-waisted pants for God’s sake! You think that is sexy?"

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