Monday, December 12, 2011

Fox News: the Muppets is "class warfare"

I've a column in today's Canberra Times, 'Children's stories need a moral side'.

A Fox anchor recently argued that the new Muppets movie is "liberal" propaganda.  His colleague wished that Hollywood's liberals would "leave little kids alone."

I'm arguing that the best kids' stories always have a moral dimension, and that it is absurd to want otherwise.  I'm also arguing that Fox News is more deceptive than most children's literature. A sample:
At their simplest, children’s narratives are often battles between good and evil. Daleks and Cybermen versus the Doctor; Luke Skywalker versus the Emperor; Spiderman verses the Green Goblin. At their most nuanced and honest, kids’ stories give us characters that are not perfect saints and demons, but marbled swirls of vice and virtue: scared, sometimes-weak Frodo, and schizoid, covetous Gollum from Lord of the Rings, for example. Even Grendel from Beowulf is a figure of sympathy – she must be killed, but not without evoking pity in the reader. 
In each case, the authors have not shied away from identifying moral traits. The villains are cursed by unbridled, unfeeling aggression or overweening lust for power. The heroes display courage, wisdom or temperance. The point is not the specific virtues and vices, but the fact that these are a necessary part of the story. Authors must decide what kind of ethical universe they stand for, and commit to it.

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