Kids' TV shows are usually known for their innocuous drivel that helps keep children quiet for a couple of precious minutes. At best, they are educational, at worst they are hugely irritating.
But now, other things are being brought to people's attention and it looks like they could be causing some pretty big problems. The main culprit is none other than the wildly popular Peppa Pig. Who knew that a kids' TV show could cause such a fuss?
What's so great about Peppa Pig?Whether or not you have children, you will undoubtedly have heard of many children's favorite TV character, Peppa Pig. As the name suggests, it follows the lives of a family of pigs. Our protagonist, Peppa, lives with her younger brother, George, and Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig.
"The Peppa Pig Effect" is a real thing.
Is your child speaking in a British accent? It could be the 'Peppa effect,' a phenomenon that sees children picking… https://t.co/0tsWROBFbW— Globalnews.ca (@Globalnews.ca)1550188564.0
Peppa Pig has been in trouble before.
You know kids watch to much peppa pig when they refer to any spider as Mr skinny legs.. https://t.co/jkaWkNx7IP— Harriet Mason (@Harriet Mason)1466945373.0
Australia has had to ban the episode.While spiders aren't dangerous in the UK, in Australia they pose a real threat. There are over 10,000 species of spider in Australia, and many of them are poisonous. An episode that encourages children to pick spiders up and throw them outside is teaching Australian children the wrong lesson. It could, in fact, be a very dangerous thing to do!
What is the role of childrens' TV shows?This is a really important question. Should kids' TV just be about escapism and a moment of peace for parents, or should it offer something more? Does it matter what kids are watching or should a kids' show just keep a child quiet?
Kids are sponges.Young children are like sponges; they absorb everything they see. Their minds are still forming and they are learning from everything around them. For this reason, kids' TV is actually very important. The hours spent watching these shows are hours spent learning from them.
What kind of people do we want our children to be?For this reason, it's important that we teach children to be open-minded and loving, that they understand that good behavior is important, from a young age. Many of childrens' role models these days are characters in TV shows. Seeing what their favorite characters achieve inspires children to work hard do the same.
Peppa Pig has quite a few controversial aspects.
Ahh the regular dose of body shaming on Peppa Pig. Looking forward to one day explaining why some cartoon pigs are wrong to my daughter.— Matt Collins (@Matt Collins)1461569864.0
Is Peppa Pig a bad role model?
Why did the writers of peppa pig ever think I was appropriate to make fun of fat people?Kids think it's okay to laugh at 'daddy's big tummy'— Louise Walker (@Louise Walker)1455959809.0
Were you influenced by a character as a child?Children are affected by their role models, whether they be toys or characters from TV shows, because it is only through seeing other people similar to yourself doing something, that you believe that you are capable of it too.
That's why Barbie has realized it needs to diversify.Okay, so admittedly, in many ways, Barbie is the worst role model in the history of role models. Her name is synonymous with an unattainable standard of beauty that not even supermodels can hope to reach. But recently, her creators have realized that they need to join the rest of the world in being a little bit more woke and that they need to try to diversify, at least a little. Now, the Barbie figures come in 4 different body types and 7 hair colors. While it's not exactly diverse, it's a start.
Barbie has had more career changes than most!
She's been toying around with different careers but for her 60th anniversary she's smashed another glass [plastic?]… https://t.co/b6cr5rWQ76— London Fire Brigade (@London Fire Brigade)1552678680.0
Firefighters are very encouraging of Firefighter Barbie.
Great to have another supporter in our #FirefightingSexism campaign. Welcome Barbie! She's coming to the rescue, he… https://t.co/ldNAv0f3q9— London Fire Brigade (@London Fire Brigade)1552777800.0
It is for this reason that the world is up in arms about Peppa Pig.
@LondonFire The memo didn’t reach the @peppapig team... #FireFighter https://t.co/8ptK628her— Jay (@Jay)1552783446.0
The public realized the ramifications immediately, though, and they were not happy.
Come on @peppapig, we’ve not been firemen for 30 years. You have a huge influence on kids & using out of date stere… https://t.co/WiktDFrZSp— London Fire Brigade (@London Fire Brigade)1552813144.0
Some people didn't see a problem with the scene.
If women are being 'put off' joining the fire service because Fireman Sam - A CARTOON CHARACTER - supposedly 'perp… https://t.co/TrmXAF4HOM— Piers Morgan (@Piers Morgan)1552908808.0
Luckily, there are decent people in the world who are willing to challenge him.This twitter user highlights Morgan's ignorance by pointing out the effect of these TV shows. It is at their young age that children need to see the options that are available to them in the future, and shouldn't we be encouraging children to do anything that they want to do?
Having daughters can make a huge difference.
Used to think this stuff was a load of rubbish, but having 2 young girls at home has changed my attitude completely… https://t.co/dCijKHhnml— Glenn Garrett (@Glenn Garrett)1552910598.0
"The Mighty Girl Effect"In fact, what this father described has a name. It is known as the 'Mighty Girl Effect.' It depicts research that shows that men who live with daughters gradually moderate their views on gender norms. There is even research that suggests that male CEOs with daughters are more likely than those without to take action in championing gender diversity in their work places.
The London Fire Brigade knows what it's talking about.
Sadly Penny’s involvement in the show is completely devalued by the constant use of the outdated term fireman in th… https://t.co/5z1HDhlS5E— London Fire Brigade (@London Fire Brigade)1552924525.0
Parents are starting to stand-up for their daughters' futures.
My 4yr old came home yesterday saying she wished she was a boy so she could be a fireman. When I said girls can be… https://t.co/uDIxngD673— Hannah Summers (@Hannah Summers)1547799394.0
Luckily, the world saw the tweet and wanted to help out.
Hello @hansummers and Esme!! We are @LondonFire Firefighters and we are girls👩🏻🚒👩🏼🚒👩🏻🚒 Hope we can meet you one… https://t.co/7vsbVbJgf1— LFB Ealing 💙💙💙 (@LFB Ealing 💙💙💙)1547832348.0
Other firefighters spoke out too.
@hansummers .Esme, lots of our firefighters are girls and boys - some of them want to say hello to you! We would l… https://t.co/4QQskfyJee— West Midlands Fire Service (@West Midlands Fire Service)1547816446.0
The battle against sexism is a global fight.
@hansummers Good morning! I heard your four y/o #daughter was discouraged because she felt she had to be a boy to b… https://t.co/FCPaWES0hX— Chief Commissioner Darrell Reid (@Chief Commissioner Darrell Reid)1547923651.0
Firefighters aren't the only people who suffer from gender stereotypes.People were, understandably, outraged about this photo that went up recently of a young girl and boy. While some people were suggesting that the world was taking political correctness too far (something that is usually only claimed by people with privilege that they don't want to concede to equality), other people saw this photo for what it was.
Isn't this all a bit of an over-reaction to kids' stuff?
@iplinks @TheMedicalShots Look at it a little closer. The girl in pink, a nurse. The boy is the doctor in green. I… https://t.co/Sp89WhPBHA— 💫✨💙Kaija Maria💙✨💫 (@💫✨💙Kaija Maria💙✨💫)1552249694.0
Young girls are subtly being told that they will never make as much money as men.
Dear @ELCUK - why is your dressing up stuff so utterly sexist?Girls-princess, fairy, ballerina, nurse. Boys-doctor, police, fire, superhero.— Chrystyna (@Chrystyna)1480759091.0
There is no natural difference in interests between girls and boys at birth.It is not true that boys and girls are born with wildly different interests, which happen to mean that boys choose positions of authority that are paid more, while girls naturally choose roles with less prestige and less money. These are merely the gender roles that the world keep perpetuating. It is for this reason that people found the term 'fireman' offensive in Peppa Pig. So many children watch that show, and they were all told that being a firefighter is a male job and that is not okay.
In some ways, Peppa Pig does provide positive role models.
@LondonFire #FirefightingSexism 🤔 ummmmm embarrassing 😊 (all the firefighters in this Peppa Pig book are female)… https://t.co/vBnIYWmD77— Natasha (@Natasha)1553028205.0
Hopefully other shows will learn from this mistake.
Ultimately, this was an unfortunate moment of insensitivity but it shows a lack of understanding that, in many ways, belittles both the hard work of firefighters, as well as the battle against sexism. Hopefully, the fact that everyone has noticed, and has rightfully criticised, this insensitivity, will prevent other shows from making the same mistakes. In turn, this should lead to a well-balanced and just society that promotes equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender or any other factor.