Thursday, September 13, 2018

Dear Dana Loesch and the NRA, What the Fuck is Wrong With You?

I am writing an extra thing today that is out of my usual purview of talking about books. As most of my readers are probably aware, I like trains. Really, really like trains. To the point that people joke the I Like Trains Kid is based off of me. I can safely say that the origin of this obsession began with Thomas the Tank Engine, whose stories I first encountered through Shining Time Station on PBS in the early 1990s. Thomas and his friends have long since grown beyond the original stories of the Rev. Wilbert Awdry, but continue to bring joy to millions of children (and children at heart) throughout the world. As you can imagine I have very, very strong positive emotions tied to Thomas and Friends.

So I found out today that Dana Loesch and the NRA got their panties in a bunch over new characters for Thomas and Friends and felt the appropriate response was to create an image of Thomas, James, and Percy wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods. And I'm going to be entirely honest, I have completely lost my shit. I am incandescent with rage. And as an...attempt at catharsis I'm writing this. I don't know if it'll help.

Dear Dana Loesch and the NRA,

What the fuck is wrong with you? What the fuck is wrong with you? Granted, this is a question I ask every time, Ms. Loesch, you get up there after a school shooting and tell us with a straight face that we actually need more guns to make us "safe". That I at least understand because that's the entire NRA's agenda and you're paid to say that. But getting offended over increased diversity in a children's tv show? That has absolutely nothing to do with guns or the Second Amendment, why are you even talking about this? What the fuck is wrong with you?

If you were a cynical person you could say that Mattel's decision to include more characters is an opportunistic move to sell more toys. You could also say that it's an opportunistic decision to expand the popularity of Thomas and Friends among a more global audience by including characters from across the globe, as well as introducing female characters to appeal to the half of the audience that is female in a series that has been historically light on female characters. (I don't think Annie, Clarabell, and Henrietta really count as characters per se as they have less agency than the engines do.) But you know what? It can be a cynical, opportunistic cash grab and a good thing.

Because you know what? Yes, the series has been short on girl characters. The original series only had Mavis and Daisy, both of whom were diesels and had a bit of an attitude until they had an inevitable incident with trucks and an incident with a cow respectively. I'm pretty sure Emily was the first female steam engine introduced to the series and even then she was the only female character for a long, long time. And sure, maybe I find the decision to include engines from different countries with special paint schemes a little questionable because most steam engines were painted black because of all the soot but kids like bright colors so let's make all the engines bright colors. Whatever, it's for kids. 

And I was emotionally invested in Thomas. If I'm being entirely honest, I find the new CGI weird and well into the uncanny valley and I really miss the old model trains even though they were probably expensive and a lot of work. And I hate seeing some of my favorite characters like Donald & Douglas getting shunted aside for new kids on the block, but fine. Whatever. I'm a little sad, but they're not making the show for me, they're making it for the little kids of today. 

But for whatever reason, you weren't satisfied. You had to go and get your panties all up in a bunch about the fact that Thomas and Friends is promoting things like clean water, gender equality, and quality education for everyone and doing it with a cast of diverse characters. What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you just hate clean water? Do you hate children? Do you hate fun? Why are you so angry about this? It's a children's show about trains who perpetually learn that it's better to work together and be kind to each other. How can you object to any of this? What the fuck is wrong with you?

What bugs me the most is this isn't even about guns. Like, far be it from me to tell people to stick within their wheelhouse but this is totally not in your wheelhouse. It's like you specifically hunted down something to be offended about, and it was something that is almost inherently inoffensive. Which is rich irony coming from people who are always complaining about "snowflake liberals" who are constantly being "triggered" by things they find offensive.  At least when we're offended it's because of the overt racism, sexism, and bigotry that seems to constantly spew from your mouths. When you're offended it's because we said clean water was a good idea. What the fuck is wrong with you?

How does a person become so filled with hate that they see something good and kind in this world and immediately say, ''I want to smash that!"? How does everything in the world become a personal attack on you and your beliefs? Are you exhausted from constantly being under siege?  Because I can't see how any person with intelligence, with compassion, with even a shred of empathy would do what you decided to do. I guess ultimately what I'm asking is: What the fuck is wrong with you?

- Kalpar 

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