I saw a post on a Facebook post last week which I found really interesting. It talked about the ’90’s kids cartoon Rugrats and how it taught ’90s Kids about changing gender roles and different family setups. It was showing kids of the time that is was ok to have a different family dynamic. It shows working mum’s, stay-at-home dads, feminist mum, feminine dads, grandparents living with their children, single dads, step-parents and even ethnic diversity.
It was showing this in a decade where big changes were happening. It was a time where it was becoming more common for women to return to the workforce soon after having children. To be a Tomboy was considered more acceptable. ‘Boy’ things were still said to be meant for boys, and ‘Girl’ things meant for girls.
Rugrats was a seemingly average cartoon about babies that ended up subtly teaching children about changing gender roles and normalised it to all those children watching. It shows that it’s was acceptable that mums could be the breadwinner, and girls could like dinosaurs. This was the way things were, and there was nothing wrong with that. There is still nothing wrong with it. Boy or girl, you can like what you want to like, and be anything you want to be.
So if Rugrats was teaching us about gender roles and family dynamic, were there other kids TV shows that taught us something different and can they still teach our children something new.
The show is all about Gaia (Mother Nature), who gifts five magical rings to children around the planet, which they then use to protect it. Four rings carry elemental powers: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. The fifth being the power of Heart or empathy. Each kid uses their magic to battle for good. But together, they can summon the mighty Captain Planet.
Many of the bad guys represented real-world problems. Some were wildlife poachers, corrupt businessman, toxic waste dumpers or smog-producing tycoons. Environmental disasters were also tackled.
Looking back now the messages were clear: ignorance and pollution are bad. There was even an episode aimed at separating the fact from the fiction around AIDS.
Air pollution, global warming and climate change is still a huge issue for the world. Maybe there should be a reboot of TV’s eco-conscious superhero?
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers were a bunch of teenagers who were chosen to defend the planet against the evil Rita Repulsa and her army of putty. You’re probably asking yourself, “which life lessons does this show teach us?”
Well, the show teaches children the value of teamwork, to respect the environment, to exercise and push yourself to be better, faster, stronger, to show compassion and respect for others, to lead and stand by your values, and to only use violence as a last resort
Dexter Laboratory showed us how to be patient when dealing with closed-minded or idiotic people. He almost rips his hair out as a result constantly being annoyed by this sister, Dee Dee. Again and again, Dexter attempted to ignore Dee Dee’s taunts gets on with working on his experiments.
Sometimes this can be said for the workplace. You can’t always choose whom you work with. But like Dexter, you can try to be patient with people not pay attention to their ignorant ways to the best of your abilities.
Doug shows us how to surround ourselves with a variety of people. Doug had several friends, all who were different colours. Some were blue, some were green and some were purple. Even with different colours and personalities, if everyone looks past all that we can all get along.
Pokémon is about the journey of Ash Ketchum to become a Pokémon Master. There are times that he loses to gym leaders but he never gave up and he always comes back stronger! Just like in life, always try to be the best and never give up.
You can find friends wherever you go. Regardless of gender, age, circumstance. People are people and those peoples can be your best friends
Oh, and Charizard was a massive bellend.
Rugrats and other popular ’90s television shows presented the most important life lessons to us all. Being able to watch these shows as children shaped the ’90s kids generation into who we are today. Without their presence in our young lives, who knows how different we might be as adults today?