Say what you will about Fox News — and most people do — but this item struck as a pretty strange line of attack. A few years ago the Department of Education leaned on the folks at Nickelodeon to use episodes of SpongeBob Squarepants to teach kids about climate change. The ‘Bob, as he’s known, learns about the phenomenon from his boss, Mr. Crab, who wants to pump tons of carbon into the atmosphere so the weather heats up and his undersea resort cashes in on the endless summer.
Hopelessly goofy, at worst. But some parents, say Fox, think it’s pure indoctrination. Especially as Nickelodeon doesn’t point out that it’s a disputed fact. (Which really, among virtually all mainstream scientists, it isn’t, but we’ll save that for a future post.) Here’s a mash-up of Fox critiquing the coverage, put together by the watchdog group Media Matters.Vodpod videos no longer available.
The implicit message of Fox’s coverage is that science isn’t really appropriate in kids’ cartoons–that it should just be funny voices and vignettes of coyotes falling off cliffs. And not really anything that could actually teach something.
We’ll agree that children’s programming isn’t the best place for heavy themes (Dora the Explorer learns about the Holocaust?). But huffing and puffing about climate change seems a odd fight to pick. Cartoons are the best place to sneak in education, especially about basic truths of how the planet works. It’s the intense public policy debate over what we should do about climate change — and perhaps the answer is nothing — that we should save for when they’re older.