It is reported in the Express and Mail that Shauna Wilton, Professor of politics at the University of Alberta, is concerned about the dominant male presence in the popular children’s programme Thomas the Tank Engine as well as the vision of a ‘fat-cat’ boss in the form of the Fat Controller, Sir Topham Hatt.
The professor subjected 23 episodes of Thomas the Tank Engine, written by the Reverend W V Awdry, to her political analysis. In her estimation they contain a rigid class system and are full of conservative political ideology that stifles children’s self expression.
She said that there was a lack of women in the stories, out of the fifty characters only eight are female and these either secondary roles or they are bossy or know-it-alls.
She has also slammed the way the engines are punished for showing initiative or dissent, which would send out the wrong message to children who should aspire to improve their lot and break through the class system.
Laura Midgley from the Campaign Against Political Correctness dismissed it as nonsense expressing disbelief that anyone would have the time to study this. She also wondered why ‘fattism’ hadn’t been mentioned with regard to the ‘Fat Controller’.
I’m sorry professor, but the books were written by the Rev in 1945. They are gentle, colourful and bring joy to many children. The TV series narrated by the ex-Beatle Ring Starr is wonderful, harmless, thoughtful and suitable entertainment for offspring. Â Remember, the ‘women’s libbers’ were brought up on a diet of programmes such as this as well as ‘Sindy’ and ‘Barbie’ dolls, prams and doll’s houses.
I think the professor would be better off investigating the imposition of extremist political and religious views and practices on children.