College is this weird time where everyone seems to take a decade-long step back in terms of maturity. Everyone quotes Disney movies like it makes them cool, everyone watches Arthur, and everyone’s ability to control their bodily functions suffers major deterioration. It’s a time of nostalgia.
But there’s something dark that lurks beneath the surface of some of the touchstones that defined our childhoods. Something I’ve only noticed when applying a more mature perspective to the shows we all love. So without further adieu, I present to you the most disturbing realizations I’ve had about the popular shows of our childhood.
1. What the fuck is up with Clifford the Big Red Dog?
Have you guys seen Clifford? He’s the size of a house! A house. Wanna know what else is the size of a house? Houses. That’s like the only fucking thing because houses are huge.
And yet no one seems concerned. Do you know how dangerous that is? He’s a goddamn dog. Dogs: The animals that have such a limited presence of mind that they sometimes literally eat their own shit. Speaking of which, where does Clifford shit? It must be the size of a car. That dog is disgusting.
What’s stopping Clifford from seeing a squirrel and just tearing across town, inflicting the greatest instance of domestic damage since Hurricane Katrina? Clifford is a big red menace. If I could put down any cartoon dog, it would be Scrappy Doo. But Clifford would be a close second.
2. Arthur: Owns a dog
Funny, that walk suddenly looks a lot like a plantation owners stroll.
Now, I love Arthur. Without him I wouldn’t know that it was a wonderful kind of day, where we could learn to laugh and play and get along with each other. However, upon revisiting it in college (top-tier education, what?) I’ve realized that there is a seriously fucked up wrinkle in the Arthur world. I’ll break it down for you like this:
1) Everyone in Arthur is an animal.
2) All those animals are intelligent, like people
3) Therefore, animals are like people
4) Arthur owns a pet dog
5) Arthur owns a dog
6) Arthur owns a person
7) Arthur is a slave owner, of some mentally-stunted creature named “Pal”
So what we’re left with is basically this: Arthur owns a mentally-handicapped slave. I… I think I need to go lie down.
3. Recess is a caste system
When I watched Recess, I thought that the way the show divided the classes was funny. I was a mature, clever fifth grader — I was totally in on this joke. But re-watching the show, the world of recess is screwed up, in a serious way.
You guys remember the kindergarten class? The one that’s full of tiny, brutal savages? That speak in broken English and hunt older kids for sport?
What the hell happens to them when they graduate?
I don’t know where their teacher is, sometimes I think you see her exhausted and frazzled, but it’s more fun and equally applicable to pretend that the kids killed and ate her. Nothing is being done to prepare these children for the rest of their lives; they aren’t even learning to speak, much less how to read. Wanna know something that does really poorly in the United States? Tribal societies. Those kids are fucked.
4. Thomas the Train: Sir Toppham Hat is a psycopath
“What do you mean I’m five minutes late?”
Thomas the train is a simple show. It’s about a bunch of trains coming together on an island to work together and learn the meaning of friendship. That is, until you realize that the man who runs the Island of Sodor has absolutely no problem oppressing his train minions.
Now, a common catchphrase on the show is “you are a very useful engine!” This is all fine I guess, we want people to be useful. But then you realize that even though the Trains in the world of Thomas the Train can talk, and think, and feel, they’re still treated like trains. For example:
In the episode “Donald and Douglas” two trains have to compete against each other to see who is more efficient, and the train who doesn’t win will be destroyed. Holy shit. That’d be like if Morty made you compete with the kid who sits next to you for midterm grades, and then if you lost SENT YOU TO SCOTLAND TO BE TAKEN APART.
Sure, sure, but that’s just one episode. WAIT. NO IT’S NOT. Here’s the episode “The Sad Story of Henry.” This episode is about a train that’s afraid of the rain, so on a rainy day he refuses to come out of a tunnel because he’s scared that the rain will ruin his paint. The townspeople try to push and pull him out, but are ultimately unable too. So the Fat Controller (Sir Toppham Hat) orders him BRICKED INTO THE TUNNEL.
Forever. The train who not only can think, but has developed enough mentally to have a well-formed phobia.
This is how the Thomas the Train Wiki summary of the episode ends: “Henry is left in the tunnel cold, dirty, and lonely. He now wonders if he will ever be let out to pull trains again.”
Run on schedule, or be locked in a tunnel forever. Sweet dreams kids!