Is the Backyardigans racist? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 56 Old 11-01-2005, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Caught this comment when I was googling for the lyrics to the Backyardigans mermaid lullaby (and I STILL can't find them! )

Apparently, the thought process goes that Austin is white (which, of course, is why he's ignored in so many episodes), Pablo is Hispanic (which is why he stinks in the Yeti episode and is so hyperactive), and the other three are black (which is why they are in every episode, Tasha is bossy, Uniqua is sensitive, and Tyrone is funny).

Leaving aside all the laughably broad (and some offensive) generalizations in the above thought process, do you think it's possible that the creator (who is AA) has created a racist cartoon? (This would mean that you'd have to believe, contrary to the beliefs of some on this board, that somebody who is not white could be racist.)

Or do you think that it's more likely that the creator made a cartoon that, if you look carefully (if you even notice the choice of names), actually <gasp> has minorities as the majority!

I have to admit that I laughed it off since I love the show and don't think it racist in the least, but what do you think?

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#2 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 12:21 AM
 
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I've never seen it, so I couldn't say.
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#3 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 12:43 AM
 
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Honestly I think your on to something.... thought it from the start actually
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#4 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 01:24 AM
 
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am I allowed to ask where you found those ideas? just curious

I love the show and can't seem to find a reason to believe that it's racist... Austin is new to the neighbourhood so... that might be why he's not on much.

DH and I thought that Uniqua was an ant.. then I read that someone thought that she was a ladybut... but she's Uniqua.... and there's no creature like her.... Took me a minute to realize that Austin was a kangaroo.
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#5 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 01:38 AM
 
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I think the Backyardigans is a great show and I love, love, love that the characters are a mix of ethnicities and I love all of their names. I don't think it's racist at all but I have to admit that it has never occurred to me that any particular character is downplayed more than any other. Every show has it's main character, and I'd say that is probaby Uniqua, the others are supporting cast. Uniqua tends to actually have more negative traits in the pretend roles she plays, from what I've noticed, but she overcomes them in the end, as do all of the others.

I definitely think this is a case of people reading way too much into a great little show. Which, by the way, teaches really neat stuff to little ones about history and the world. My children come away with all kinds of interesting thoughts when they watch that show (maybe once a week).
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#6 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 01:55 AM
 
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I really don't get the thought process. Since when was hyperactivity a hispanic stereotype? And why would it be racist to focus less on the supposedly white character? Particularly if the creator is black? Along that same train of thought, would "Out of the Box" on the Disney channel be considered racist? They very frequently have shows that have no white characters at all. I always thought it was pretty cool that it wasn't a white show, politely padded with an appropriate sprinkling of diverse characters, but maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's racist, too... Hmm...
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#7 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 01:56 AM
 
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First of all...Tasha isn't black. She's also white. Uniqua is Unique...we're thinking an alien or something.
Secondly...holy cow. Seriously?

Ohhh and on the lyrics...I'll watch it tomorrow and write them down for you.
PE
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#8 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 02:07 AM
 
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never seen the show
but lyrics here possibly
http://www.nickjr.com/home/shows/bac...g_sheets.jhtml

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#9 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 04:33 AM
 
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ok maybe not reallt 'racist'.....

but its like. You write what you live. What you know.
And if you are black. Maybe you have a show that cant help but caters to the AA comunity, kwim? Same probably goes for anyone though I suppose...


& here, for those wondering..........

http://www.nickjr.com/home/shows/bac...creators.jhtml
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#10 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 08:48 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms.Doula
ok maybe not reallt 'racist'.....

but its like. You write what you live. What you know.
And if you are black. Maybe you have a show that cant help but caters to the AA comunity, kwim? Same probably goes for anyone though I suppose...


& here, for those wondering..........

http://www.nickjr.com/home/shows/bac...creators.jhtml
Help me out here. Are you actually saying that perhaps black people can't help but write about black characters?

And does it occur to you that since the dawn of the television white people have been writing shows for white people to perform? Perhaps white people just can't stop writing what they "know".

The Backyardigans rock my socks. I don't know what the OP was thinking when she posted this, but let me warn you, OP, it ain't goin nowhere good.
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#11 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 09:19 AM
 
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I think Ms. Doula was trying to make exactly that point. I'm a white, 32 year old, Presbyterian, single mom. If I were to write a book or TV show (trust me though, you wouldn't want me to!) - I'd most likely write about something I know. I'd write about what it's like to be a single mom. Or I'd write about what a toad my ex is. I'd take something from my life and work with that. I probably wouldn't write a story about a 70 year old Jewish man, not because I'm racist, but because I don't have any experience with his life. Honestly, I think that's all Ms. Doula was trying to say...

That said - My little girl 's The Backyardigans!
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#12 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 11:08 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ms.Doula

& here, for those wondering..........

http://www.nickjr.com/home/shows/bac...creators.jhtml
I think anyone could have answered the questions like she did and I also think anyone that's ever been a kid or has an imagination could write the episodes.

I also believe that the creator being black has nothing to do with the show content. I don't see that reflected in the show at all.

Some very relavent points made by everyone but basically I think it's farfetched to call it racist - I would never have known the creator was black just by watching the show.

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#13 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 11:17 AM
 
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Maybe there's something wrong with me......but all I see is a bunch of animals in different colors. I've never tried to nor wanted to assess if some are different ethnicities. I never really thought there were different colors of moose anyway! Maybe Austin isn't in as many because the person who does the voice over is only part time and has another job.

Sounds like someone has way to much time on their hands.
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#14 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 11:34 AM
 
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Austin is new to the neighbourhood.. I think that's why he's not on much right now...
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#15 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 11:49 AM
 
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I thought Uniqua was a hippo?
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#16 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 11:57 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsChatsAlot
Maybe there's something wrong with me......but all I see is a bunch of animals in different colors. I've never tried to nor wanted to assess if some are different ethnicities. I never really thought there were different colors of moose anyway! Maybe Austin isn't in as many because the person who does the voice over is only part time and has another job.

Sounds like someone has way to much time on their hands.

yeah that !!! ITA with the above

good grief, does everything have to be broken down in some "racist" nature?? as in the OP mentioned by otehrs :

don't like the show... don't watch!
leave this wonderful show alone!!!

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#17 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 12:00 PM
 
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lmao... we thought Uniqua was an ant then I heard that someone thought she was a ladybug... but she's neither... she's unique - unlike any creature

ya know polka!?
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#18 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 12:06 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by polka123
yeah that !!! ITA with the above

good grief, does everything have to be broken down in some "racist" nature?? as in the OP mentioned by otehrs :

don't like the show... don't watch!
leave this wonderful show alone!!!

: I think any show could be considered racist by someone if it was analyzed enough. I never even considered race when dd watches The Backyardigans. I mean it's a blue penguin, pink kangaroo, yellow moose, yellow hippo, and pink unique creature!
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#19 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 12:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niamh
Pablo is Hispanic (which is why he stinks in the Yeti episode and is so hyperactive)
The more I think about this comment, the more upset I get. Pablo was "pretending" to stink because he was "pretending" to be a Yeti. I have never even considered that Latino people stink and it highly upsets me that some people do. I have never even heard of such a thing. I don't get the hyperactive thing either. It makes me wonder if the person who these thoughts originated from may be racist themselves. I'm assuming that these are not the OPs own thoughts. If so, I don't mean to offend. I just don't understand where these thoughts would come from.
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#20 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 01:03 PM
 
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I've never thought twice about their ethnicity...I thought they were all animals?
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#21 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 02:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doodlebugsmom
The more I think about this comment, the more upset I get. Pablo was "pretending" to stink because he was "pretending" to be a Yeti. I have never even considered that Latino people stink and it highly upsets me that some people do. I have never even heard of such a thing. I don't get the hyperactive thing either. It makes me wonder if the person who these thoughts originated from may be racist themselves. I'm assuming that these are not the OPs own thoughts. If so, I don't mean to offend. I just don't understand where these thoughts would come from.
I just wanted to say...totally! and maybe Pablo is hyper active because ummmm, HE'S A CRAZY ANIMAL CHARACTER FROM A KIDS SHOW! They're ALL hyperactive.

Now the teletubbies...that's another matter, Tinky Winky is OBVIOUSLY gay!


























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#22 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 02:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsChatsAlot
Maybe there's something wrong with me......but all I see is a bunch of animals in different colors. I've never tried to nor wanted to assess if some are different ethnicities. I never really thought there were different colors of moose anyway! Maybe Austin isn't in as many because the person who does the voice over is only part time and has another job.

Sounds like someone has way to much time on their hands.

ITA!!! They are pretend creatures! The people who do their voices are real, but I don't see how that makes any of the characters human w/ ethnicities.

whatever!
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#23 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 03:21 PM
 
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This is interesting. I never even noticed
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#24 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 03:49 PM
 
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I don't have TV reception at home, so have no clue about the show you're all discussing. But am interested in how some posters are suggesting the OP was saying the show is racist, or how the OP said something racist.

I mean, did you all read the OP?

She said that she heard that some people were saying it was racist, and she heard that some people said it was racist because this character did this and that character did that.

And then she specifically said she doesn't agree with that line of reasoning at all.



It goes on from there, you know?

Gotta read the OP, you know?

(have no clue how I got to this thread or why I'm posting to it except that I'm already NAKing and can't get up at this moment )
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#25 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 04:29 PM
 
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they are supposed to be animals ?! this seriously never occured to me. i thought they were just . . .things . . . ya know, like the teletubbies.

and they are not white/black/brown. they are pink, purple and blue and aren't most of them polka dotted. Yes there are some etnic undertones (?). I thought this was just an intentional stab at diversity. I never noticed any stereotypes. but i am a little flighty especialy on sturday morning cartoon binges (the only time we watch TV and Backyardigins finishes up our broadcasting day). Austin blending in has been addresed several times. he is painfuly shy. He is dealing with it and his friends are sensitive to it. It is not an issue may cartoons address. especially from a boys perspective.

If the writer is AA then it makes since that most of the kids are AA. he is probably basing all the characters on children he loves. maybe even family members. children in his commnity. Maybe the kids running through his backyard . . . . ya think? If you did the same thing what would your color ratio be. If I were to pick the 6 kids at my house the most there would be 4 white kids, 2 Mixed race AA/white kid, and 1 Native American kid and one Indian kid. and they would al be silly and dancing and singing and pretending. they range in age from 4-12 and only one is a boy. And if i were to write anything about children they would be the inpiration. I do not believe the show is racist one bit. I think it is a reflection of the writer and kids he knows or the kids he knew growing up.

And I love lovel love the backyard again. even my 9 year old loves it. It is just so gentle and sweet. Ugg? ugg ugg uugg ug.

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#26 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 05:08 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by merpk
I don't have TV reception at home, so have no clue about the show you're all discussing. But am interested in how some posters are suggesting the OP was saying the show is racist, or how the OP said something racist.

I mean, did you all read the OP?

She said that she heard that some people were saying it was racist, and she heard that some people said it was racist because this character did this and that character did that.

And then she specifically said she doesn't agree with that line of reasoning at all.



It goes on from there, you know?

Gotta read the OP, you know?

(have no clue how I got to this thread or why I'm posting to it except that I'm already NAKing and can't get up at this moment )

I think it's absurd that anyone (not the OP, but whomever came up with the racist things about the show) could find racism in a show about make-believe multi-colored, talking animals. Race doesn't usually enter my mind when watching animals sing and dance on a children's television show.
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#27 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 05:59 PM
 
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Racist, no. Annoying, yes. That dang yeti song gets in my head for days. Not cool to start randomly singing it at work in front of patients (I seem to be afflicted with the same syndrome as Marcus in "About a Boy" - random unconscious singing aloud.).

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#28 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 06:28 PM
 
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I must admit I don't know the show BUT ... Here's a THOUGHT ...

As a non-white American it was always obvious to me what race cartoon "animals" were, or puppets, etc. Kids can TELL, and there's nothing "racist" about that. I can also tell when cartoon/puppet "animals" or "aliens" or whatever AREN'T white-dominant-culture. And I LOVE IT when they aren't!

Everyone out there who thinks that "color-blind" is the ideal ... No, friends, it ain't. People are different. Those differences are PRECIOUS. People who gloss over those differences, pretend they don't exist, are doing a subtle kind of violence - denying other people's reality.

So what I'm saying is: sounds like those characters are actually supposed to BE different races/ethnicities/cultures. I hope so, we need that! Far from racist, that's a strike against racism.
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#29 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 06:33 PM
 
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Oh, and sorry, but I couldn't resist ...
Quote:
It's just the sheer absurdity that anyone (not the OP) could come to the conclusion that a show geared toward pre-schoolers, that is about pretend, talking animals could be racist.
I, on the other hand, find it absurd that people don't realize that prejudices and bias are part and parcel of almost everything in the media. I'm really ... uh ... stunned by this comment.
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#30 of 56 Old 11-02-2005, 09:18 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crescentaluna
Oh, and sorry, but I couldn't resist ...


I, on the other hand, find it absurd that people don't realize that prejudices and bias are part and parcel of almost everything in the media. I'm really ... uh ... stunned by this comment.

I pm-ed you. Apparently, I wasn't as clear as I needed to be in my pp. I edited it. Hope it's better.
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