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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

 

Every saga has its end

Since this blogging war is getting in the way of extremely super important posts about ray guns and perverse McDonald's murals, this is the absolute last shot will Blog will fire in the Big Bad Battle Over the Big Bad "Butter Battle Book." No matter how lengthy his response to the following, be it on a goat, be it in a boat, Blog-I-Am will NOT respond to AP's rancid green eggs and...spam?

1. AP, that last post was dripping with sarcasm. Sorry if it was too arcane but take a look at this key conclusive sentence:

"Video games don't convince people to join the military, comics don't send cascading off roofs and Dr. Suess did not make AP a liberal. His environment and his parents did."

To rephrase, no single book, video game, etc can alter a person's behavior or political leanings no matter how matter how powerful Suess' pathos. To answer one of AP's queries, kids will still act like rowdy maniacs regardless of their exposure to media while their parents will always attempt to cull them with subversive children's literature. Maybe we do agree.

2. But then there's the original post which started this maddess. Take a look at this statement by AP last week:

"[That book] surely helped put the idea in my head -- as it surely helped millions of others who in recent days marched in Miami and (perhaps) London -- that war is always fought on frivolous grounds and that acquisition of better weapons technology is immoral. Now that I look back, 'The Butter Battle Book' definitely had a hand in my early philosophical thinking -- I'd bet it did for others, too."

Despite his recent backpedaling, AP is implying here, if not outright admitting, that this mere Suess book was a gateway into a world of liberal politics. In fact, he regards it as the fuel for recent protests (?!!). At no point does he refer to the anti-violent themes in countless other children's books. Later in the same post, he admits that he'll probably never allow his children to read the book. AP seems to think this book is as powerful as the Necronomicon.

Furthermore, according to Amazon, "The Butter Battle Book" was published in 1984. Even if AP's parents rushed out to purchase a first edition the second it hit the shelves, other subversive children's entertainment would have "warped him" before that. All in all, the Bernstein Bears and that creepy Winnie the Pooh show with the actors in costume probably got to him prior to Suess' opus. Why was he so eager to pinpoint "The Butter Battle Book" while neglecting the rest?

3. The moral lessons in the average GI Joe episode DO match those of "Butter Battle Book." Suess argues that "war = bad." GI Joe argues "war = good." Both are overly simplistic and hold as much water as the other. AP argues that "imbued his stories with meaning" while the "hacks" responsible for GI Joe neglected to do the same.

Really? Glorifying war doesn't qualify? Cartoon Network began re-airing episodes of GI Joe last year during their late night programming. Blog invites AP to take a look. This cartoon, with its red-white and blue logo and "real American heros" is unadulterated, flag-waving propaganda for grade-schoolers. The show is filled to the brim and overflowing with meaning when compared to the works of a certain "doctor." Given the similarly feather-weight politics of Suess' catalog, these old cartoon toy commercials are on the level.

4. AP also throws down this new challenge:

"All I intended was to point out that simple stories often have powerful meanings. And that central point, which informed my original Seuss post, still hasn't been challenged."

Not to repeat myself, yet again, but:

That they do but no story, on its own, can sway a person's politics and behavior.

What have we learned from all this? Children should be locked in closets until they reach the age of rea...wait, no. OK, really, what have we learned? Nothing. What should we have learned? That children's entertainment doesn't warp kids, their parents and environment do. Also: AP should stick with politics and lay-off the soul searching.

Wasn't that fun?

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