Sunday, October 12, 2014

Subversive Programming

As more and more programming comes to light, so does the history of the subtle subversion.  The links included are in a reversed chronological order.

This week, a headline about education in Nebraska sent many into a tailspin.  The teachers in a Nebraska school district received the recommendation to no longer differentiate between the sexes, but rather use a gender inclusive term.  Apparently, it hasn't yet occurred to the anyone that boys are still boys and girls are still girls, regardless of the political agenda.  So, the recommendation was to refer to the children as purple penguins . . . This immediately brought a furrow to my brow and raised my investigative antennas.  The penguin connection was an line to track between point A and point B, and the thought of antennas brought home the purple connection.

And Tango Makes Three was published in 2005.  It's a book about a "couple" of male penguins.  The review found in Amazon is included below.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 3-This tale based on a true story about a charming penguin family living in New York City's Central Park Zoo will capture the hearts of penguin lovers everywhere. Roy and Silo, two male penguins, are "a little bit different." They cuddle and share a nest like the other penguin couples, and when all the others start hatching eggs, they want to be parents, too. Determined and hopeful, they bring an egg-shaped rock back to their nest and proceed to start caring for it. They have little luck, until a watchful zookeeper decides they deserve a chance at having their own family and gives them an egg in need of nurturing. The dedicated and enthusiastic fathers do a great job of hatching their funny and adorable daughter, and the three can still be seen at the zoo today. Done in soft watercolors, the illustrations set the tone for this uplifting story, and readers will find it hard to resist the penguins' comical expressions. The well-designed pages perfectly marry words and pictures, allowing readers to savor each illustration. An author's note provides more information about Roy, Silo, Tango, and other chinstrap penguins. This joyful story about the meaning of family is a must for any library.-Julie Roach, Watertown Free Public Library, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
It seems the public school system isn't planting the programming early enough, so there is day care and children's television.  I know, as a grandma, I was shocked to learn Bert and Ernie were gay.  I had no idea puppets, well . . . never mind.  Anyway, this purple adjective took me back to the days of Teletubbies and Dr. Jerry Falwell.  Sure enough, it was that purple teletubby that had a triangle top and carried a purse, but was referred to as "he."
Here is just a short description of Tinky Winky.
Tinky Winky (played by Dave Thompson, Mark Heenehan, and Simon Shelton) is the first Teletubby. He is the largest and oldest of the Teletubbies, is covered in purple terrycloth, and has a triangular antenna on his head. He is notable for the red bag he always carries.
The programme was also at the centre of a controversy when American televangelist and conservative pundit Jerry Falwell claimed in 1999 that Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubbies, was a homosexual role model for children. Falwell based this conclusion on the character's purple colour and triangular antenna; both the colour purple and the triangle are sometimes used as symbols of the Gay Pride movement.
A purple creature for 1-4 year olds that was either gay or at least genderly non-specific from 1997 to 2005.  And Tango Makes Three was published in 2005.  Now the suggestion to term school children as purple penguins for the specific reason of gender "inclusion" seems to be a very well connected and not so subtle subversive programming.  

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