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October 26, 2007


Ajf 6

I like your blog, because we have similar outlook and outlook on life!

Rick Brock

Sounds like a lot of over analyzing for a kids show. But to address the "clean" appearance of the show, it seems consistent to most animated kids shows that I remember, perhaps a bit more.

However, since it is a young kids show, maybe it helps focus on the story line and the lesson to be learned during each episode.

I say, let's give kids an opportunity to not be distracted by other things injected by the real world; for now. There will be plenty of shows with more realism added as they get older.

Just my 2 cents.

Dr. G

It looks like the reference from Slate is reviving some interest in this blog. Interesting take on this children's series. I'm 32 and I never watched or read this series as a kid. It makes sense that there may be some reference to Germany in Nazi era, especially given the time period it was written in. I don't know if it's necessarily anti-Semitic.

As an aside, I was looking at some of the other posts and noticed you're not writing too many blog posts. You should keep it up, kids or no kids, you seem to have really interesting things to say!



I find a lot of children's shows to be disturbing - but that's because they are simplistic. Let's look at one of my favorite culprits, Barney (I suppose I'm dating myself, here...). Most people complained that he was too goody-goody sweet. That didn't bother me - I figured my kids would learn soon enough that not everyone is nice. But what bothered me was the same thing that bothers you about Thomas the Tank Engine: an air of fascism. Yep, that's right! Ever notice how no one ever really disagrees with Barney? If anyone on the show ever wants to do something else that what the majority is doing, s/he is soon talked around. The bland conformity is almost Stepfordian - must be why my kids tired of it so incredibly quickly.

You have got to be kidding me


Thomas, an imaginary talking train is a anti-semite., but pirates who in rel life rape and kill are ok?


time on your hands, keyboard in front of you, kids tv show playing in the background, a reckless disregard for logic and a large tumbler of gin and tonic. Yeah, I can see how you came to the anti-semitic conclusion.


Wow....put down the progressive kool-aid and step away from the internet....


This is slandering a harmless children's story. God help your poor kids if something this innocent doesn't pass your political litmus test.


I'm Jewish and I think this is complete nonsense. I can't even call the charge of anti-semitism a stretch. Its totally absent. Poor old Thomas!


The fact that some anti-Semites have been in favor of cleanliness and orderliness, does not mean that being in favor of cleanliness and orderliness is anti-Semitic.

A person can be clean & orderly or not, and a person can be anti-Semitic or not. It's possible for a person to be clean & orderly but not anti-Semitic, and it's also possible for a person to be anti-Semitic and unclean & disorderly.

James Sanders

The author seems to be unaware of the idiomatic British use of the the term "useful" to mean "good." One might well hear an English person saying "I'm fairly useful at tennis," which as no meaning in the sense this author describes (how would one be "useful" in an activity that has no purpose except fun?), unless one understand that it simply means "I'm a pretty good tennis player."
Please remember Mr. Wilde's point about the America and British being two great peoples separated by a common language before waxing quite so grandly.

Elle Leibsker

I agree with the author. There was a PhD thesis written some years ago comparing Thomas and Bob the Builder to Nazi Youth comic books that pushed the idea of "fleissig" or industriousness as the highest good in mankind. Sodor has no real art or dissent or humor, I've always hated this damn show.
I took it as an opportunity to discuss the value of unions with my nephews. It's always bothered me that the engines seem to be at the beck and call of their master day or night. This stupid series has also made it impossible to buy brio trains without characters on them. So down with Sir Topham Hat, evil tyrant of Sodor. ENGINES UNITE!! I propose a brotherhood of trains, black and red and green and brown! We'll sing "Solidarity Forever" and turn Sodor on it's ear!


You want to know what's really anti-Semitic? Saying that being in favor of cleanliness and orderliness is anti-Semitic.

If one believes that being clean and orderly is anti-Semitic, doesn't it logically follow that one believes that Jews are dirty and disorderly?

Yeah, I can see that there's some capitalist brainwashing going on here, but I really don't see anything remotely anti-Semitic about TtTE.


JP, read it again. That was the whole point. It was part of Nazi propaganda to associate a Jewish people with uncleanliness, and this went along with a host of other forced associations (disorderly, unuseful, etc.), neural networks established by sheer repetition. Thomas has an eerie resonance with this same frame, this same neural network (minus, importantly, the murderous part). Though I would agree with those readers who say this is a stretch, I thought it was curious -- and a good way to provoke readers, as my friend's comment did for me, into reflecting on the messages and values encoded in seemingly superficial children's shows. I agree with previous comment about the surprising lack of any solidarity among the trains when confronted with Sir T's demands -- I hadn't focused on that but it too provokes some thought!


Well, I guess if all you're doing is trying to provoke your readers, then you're on the right track. Thomas the Tank Engine is a Nazi; Tom and Jerry are Commies; Bugs Bunny is an anarchist; and Tickle Me Elmo is a child molester.


"the messages and values encoded in seemingly superficial children's shows"

The messages and values encoded in these shows FOR the kids are "ask your parents for these toys next time you see them at the store and every waking moment besides."

Children don't have the frame of reference you (and your friend) do, and therefore can't make the leap, stretch, or baseless conjecture you and other adults make in this and countless other cases of overanalyzing children's TV and books.

Generally speaking, kids' shows try to teach teamwork/helping/cooperation, being nice to one another, and other vanilla lessons and values that very few people would argue with. Some do this more hamhandedly than others, and some are so annoying or bad (in terms of writing quality and/or production value) that they suck, but they're rarely evil or intended to pass along nasty messages.

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