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November 12, 2015

TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Mizzou media maven Melissa Click’s CV is reviewed by John Hinderaker of Power Line in a post titled “The Fraudulence of Leftist Professors,” after which, John writes:

The astonishing thing is that Professor Click collects money from various sources to support her “research.” E.g.:

Women’s and Gender Studies Faculty Research and Creative Activities Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support research on readers’ reactions to the messages in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series. April 2013.

Richard Wallace Faculty Incentive Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support research on readers’ reactions to the messages in the Fifty Shades of Grey book series. April 2013.

From Fifty Shades of Grey to Thomas the Tank:

A&S Alumni Organization Faculty Incentive Grant, University of Missouri. Awarded to support initial research on the PBS children’s series Thomas the Tank Engine. February 2010.

If you put a gun to my head and made me read one or the other–Fifty Shades of Grey or Thomas the Tank Engine–I would go with Thomas. I do wonder, however, what the feminist angle on Thomas the Tank could possibly be.

Oh, that’s an easy one. Back in February a headline at — where else? — the London Guardian ran down the “Ten things feminism has ruined for me — Bras, bikes and Thomas the Tank Engine… Emer O’Toole mourns some of life’s simpler pleasures.” The previous year, someone else at the Guardian named Tracy Van Slyke wrote a piece titled “Thomas the Tank Engine had to shut the hell up to save children everywhere — Classism, sexism, anti-environmentalism bordering on racism: any parent who discovered these hidden lessons will be glad the show’s star just quit.” (The voice actor who played Thomas quit in a contract dispute; he was replaced by another actor):

And that’s not even to get started on the female trains. Well, actually it’s hard to get started on them, because they barely exist. Take a quick scan of the more than 100 trains and characters in the Thomas universe – it spans multiple books, toys and continents in addition to a TV show – and you can quickly count on two hands the number of lady trains that populate is Isle of Sodor. Emily – the only lady train to get name checked in the opening credits and the only one who regularly hangs out with the boy trains – is said to “know her stuff.” That’s the sole description of her personality. What does that even mean?

Last year, the British Labour shadow Transportation Secretary even called out Thomas for its lack of females, saying that the franchise setting a bad example for girl wannabe train engineers everywhere.

At first blush, Thomas and his friends seem rather placid and mild. And there are certainly a lot worse shows in terms of in-your-face violence, sexism, racism and classism. But looks can be deceiving: the constant bent of messages about friendship, work, class, gender and race sends my kid the absolute wrong message.

Witness the violence inherent in the HO* scale train system!

* And how dare the model railroad degrade sex-workers with these highly problematic initials!