Thomas the Tank Engine is ‘nasty’ and ‘sinister’ – or so say liberal parents, according to the Daily Telegraph. Would you believe that:
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the publication of the first ‘Railway Series’ book by the Anglican vicar Rev Wilbert Awdry. But while children, especially boys, love Thomas and all the other engines who inhabit Awdry’s fictional world, some parents take exception to the apparently harmless books and TV series.
Reviews of the programme on the Common Sense Media website, a non-profit group that focuses on the effects of media and technology on children, lambast the series for being “nasty”, “negative” and a “bad example” to youngsters.
“Thomas is a poor role model,” says one reviewer. “Lots of nasty competitiveness between the trains. Thomas (and others) frequently shirk their responsibilities [in order to] compete against each other or to show off.”
“The Thomas series glories instead in true ‘white man’s burden’ style British imperialism.“Our hero Thomas, and his friends, jockey for positions just below that of the bullying aristocrat Sir Topham Hatt [America’s version of the Fat Controller] but never seek to rise to his level…The trains, complicit in maintaining this unjust system, humiliate each other for the small scraps of praise the little tyrant doles out rather than banding together.”
I’m appalled. 70 years of good clean harmless entertainment, teaching children that railways are a GOOD THING. What could be wrong with that? I was brought up on Thomas and look what it’s done for me (fast forward post before anyone answers).
One of the comments quotes CS Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
But this account of the Rev. Awdry and the history of Thomas is much much better – deferential to a true superstar of book and screen….