Thursday, 10 December 2009
Thomas is a Tory
Ms Wilton claims that Thomas the Tank Engine, a popular series of books and TV programmes about steam trains with cheeky little human faces, is in fact a fascist Trojan horse. Apparently the show’s politics are distinctly right wing. The poor little engines are punished and squashed if they show any initiative and individualism. She also paints the Fat Controller who bosses Thomas and his chums about as being some sort of bullying aristocrat. He’s probably a freemason and a foxhunter, I shouldn’t wonder. Thomas meanwhile is a lacky and running dog of international capitalism.
As if those crimes weren’t enough, it seems that the story suffers from a lack of female role models. The professor watched the TV show with her three-year old daughter and was concerned enough to launch a full-scale witch hunt… er… academic paper which she then presented at a conference on political science in Canada.
"The female characters weren't necessarily portrayed any more negatively than the male characters or the male trains, but they did tend to play more secondary roles and they're often portrayed as being bossy or know-it-alls," she said. Any attempt to break out of this controlled hierarchy to gain individual power, show initiative or dissent is met with punishment, usually because it goes wrong.”
Thankfully it’s not all bad news as Professor Wilton concedes that Thomas has some acceptable values including contributing to the community, tolerance of others and good communication. However she does go on to say that children who watch the programme will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now will be partially influenced by shows like Thomas.
Thank goodness the professor has an open and balanced view of politics. If she weren’t such a paragon of fairness and tolerance one might imagine her students would be influenced by her anti-conservative agenda, although I’m sure she’s far too impartial to allow that to happen.
So who’d have thought it? Thomas the Tank Engine… the Fuhrer of the railways. It’s amazing how clever those right-wing zealots are at hiding subliminal political messages in the most seemingly innocent guises.
On the other hand it could just be a fun and enjoyable story about steam trains for children who know nothing of politics.