Queer Kids’ Media: Final Thoughts18th November 2016
Sadly, this is my final column! Thank you for watching along with me, and if you missed any of my previous pieces on The Legend of Korra, Adventure Time and Sailor Moon, you can find them right here on the website!
In a column about queer representation and children’s education, I don’t think I can avoid mentioning Trump’s victory in the U.S. election (not to mention there are two articles on it right next to me). Although this is a scary time for queer Americans, who had only just started to get some much-needed progress under American law, I honestly believe that children’s media is a way forward. Where do people learn their core values when they don’t learn them in education or at home? In the stories they read and the shows they watch. And, most importantly, they get them young: ingrained and internalised prejudice can be undone, but it’s a hell of a lot easier if it’s not there to begin with.
And kids’ media can be clever: it can hide things in metaphor, it can put things in without making a big deal out of it because children don’t even realise it’s something to make a big deal out of. Teen and adult storylines are so often a let-down, making queer characters’ sexualities the whole of their being, when these characters even exist. And sure, kid’s shows can be a disappointment too but, if you ask me, they have a track record which only gets better.
After this election America is still not the worst place in the world to be queer, no, and it’s important that we don’t forget about the countries we don’t hear about on the news, where being queer still means the death penalty. But just because a place isn’t the worst doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a lot better. And all those ‘meaningless’ kids’ shows, which can be more homo- and transphobic than my very selective discussion suggests, are teaching our kids. So yes, kids’ media matters, and it’s worth paying attention to.
This evening, remember that although a Disney princess hasn’t dated a princess just yet, or announced that he’s actually a prince, shows like Adventure Time have already got there, broadcasting on the same channel which showed a straightwashed Sailor Moon just over a decade earlier. And that is progress.