Friday, May 21, 2010

Dora the Immigrant Explorer

Apparently, Yahoo! News is lacking on relevent news stories... so much to post a story about whether or not Dora the Explorer is an illegal immigrant. Read the Story Here

It makes you wonder if anyone actually... thinks about things. While in some cases, cartoons or TV shows do develop some sort of background story for the characters, most times there is no background, and sort of develops naturally throughout the show's progression. For example: in the TV series, "The Simpsons," I'm pretty sure when season 1 began, the shows writer's didn't know that Homer would have an absent mother who was on the run from the authorities because of her protests against nuclear power. Or that Lisa might have not gotten a saxophone if Homer had bought an air conditioner instead. Or that Marge wanted to become a journalist.

So why would the creators/writers of Dora the Explorer care whether or not she lived in America legally or illegally. The article does make a good point about the ambiguity of where Dora lives. Shouldn't that be enough to say "Hey, this is a cartoon, meant to teach kids about problem solving and teamwork." Apparently not.

With no proof as to where Dora lives, why then should her immigrant status matter? Maybe she does live in Mexico, and therefore never crossed the border into America. And are Americans so self-centered they automatically assume that this CARTOON CHARACTER (which apparently can't be stressed though) wanted to get into this country? One line of the article suggests that perhaps she's in South America. If so, would she be an illegal immigrant into America? No.

The article touches on race a couple of times in wondering what Dora's story is. But why does it matter? If a person spends any time watching shows for kids, they'd see that almost always there's a weird array of diversity among the characters in the TV show. I remember the show Barney always had a diverse group of kids with different skin color and cultures. Little Einsteins has a group of four kids, two of which are not white kids. The point is to teach kids that just because these kids have different skin colors, they're all still the same as you or me. The shows never acknowledge that the kids look different (with exceptions of shows that specifically talk about race). For a little kid, seeing people of different colors all working together gives them the idea that they're all just people, kids like themselves.

And that's what Dora does. While I'm not entirely fond of Dora the Explorer (she yells too much), she's showing that not every cartoon hero/heroine needs to be a white person or a talking animal/train/car. Even Handy Manny touches on the Latin/Spanish/Mexican culture a little bit.

People who spend too much time analyzing kids' cartoons for stupid reasons ( there are some reasons why one might want to study a show if it really was too inappropriate for kids to watch ) and go cure cancer or something. There are so many other social issues that surround our country that trying to determine if Dora the Explorer is an illegal immigrant is the least of our worries. How about trying to study why girls have low opinions of themselves when they can't match the tall skinny (supposed) role models they see on tv? I believe that issue is more important than race among cartoon characters.