- Politics and Social Issues
Is Thomas the Train a Commie Plot?
Why I Love(d) Thomas the Train
Is Thomas the Train Communist propaganda? I know it sounds crazy (and maybe it is), but stick with me. Like many parents, I am very particular about what my children watch. No half-dressed hooligan cartoon characters in my house, please. I was pleased to find Thomas the Train. The characters have a strong work ethic and (mostly) focus on being productive and building friendships. My son loves this show. Little did I know that I was letting the Red Menace into my house.
About three weeks ago, my two-year old broke his collar bone and we went to the local urgent care. They had a train table with all of Sodor, it seemed. That is when the obsession began. When we got home, he stood at the door pointing and screaming, "Choo Choo!" The next morning, he woke up and the first words out of his mouth were, "Choo Choo!"
He got so excited about it that we got him his very own train table and a starter set. He loves it! He plays with it for hours at a time. He reconfigures the tracks and mixes his toy cars with the trains. It is a cute, sweet mess. He even says lines from the movie Blue Mountain Mystery. Are the Reds in the shed brainwashing my precious young one? Read on to find out.
These Kind of Look Like the One We Have
A Sinister Subtext Emerges
I don't usually sit down and watch cartoons with my son. I let him watch while I work, but he usually wanders away from the TV after a few minutes and it just plays in the background. Out of the "corner of my ear", so to speak, I picked up on the phrase that they use a lot...really useful. My first thought was that it is a great thing to teach children. We all want our children to be productive.
After hearing the movie in the background a few times, I joked with my husband that Sodor was Communist and being productive for the community was their highest ideal. I thought that was really funny. Then, I sat down and actually watched the Blue Mountain Mystery. It is the story of friendship and fugitives. Huh?
Blue Mountain Mystery Spoiler Alert!
Thomas goes to work in the Blue Mountain Quarry after Paxton gets injured when a bridge collapses. Crumbling infrastructure, anyone? Thomas sees a small green engine that he's never seen before. He asks around and everyone denies knowing anything about it. After several close calls with the little green engine, the other engines at the quarry must reveal that the green engine, whose name is Luke, is being hid because he did something very bad.
Let that soak in for a second.
Well, what did Luke do? He says that is pushed a yellow engine into the sea, accidentally. Luke says that the yellow engine was so damaged that he couldn't be really useful anymore and was sent to the smelter's yard. Luke now hides out at the quarry to avoid being sent away from Sodor.
There are several things I find a little disturbing about this scenario.
1.The trains at the quarry are hiding an engine (and his driver?) who thinks he is a murderer.
2. When you the trains are no longer "really useful", they are sent to the smelter's yard.
I think that second thought strays away from Communism and flirts with National Socialism.
"Say what you will about National Socialism, at least it's an ethos." - Walter, The Big Lebowski
I can tie anything back to The Big Lebowski.
I Just Thought it Was Funny
Yes, there are some unseemly undertones to the cartoon. I definitely think that if my son was older it could make for some good conversation. At his age now, it is completely over his head. I'm not too worried about the Red Menace infiltrating my house via Thomas.
My intention was to write a funny, spoofy, fake-scare page. Then, I did a search for "Thomas the Train communism" to do a little research. The results surprised me.
A Breakdown of the Classes on Sodor
- The Hidden Sub-Text of Thomas the Tank Engine. | hiddensounds
a blog dedicated to soundscapes, music and general philosophy. (by Jordan Lacey)
An Academic Treatment of Thomas the Train and Communism
- Thomas the Tank Engine attacked for 'conservative political ideology' - Telegraph
Children's favourite Thomas the Tank Engine has been attacked by a Canadian academic for its "conservative political ideology" and failure to adequately represent women.
Looks Like it Might be Racist, Too
Are Annabelle and Claire lesbians?
Not That There's Anything Wrong with That
I can tie anything back to Seinfeld.
A Very Useful Engine
All in Good Fun
Am I petitioning for a boycott of all-things-Thomas? No. In fact, I will probably buy my son another piece for his railway every week until he leaves for college. No show is perfect. We can dissect them all day long. Even Bugs Bunny is cynical and sarcastic.
I did find the literature on the subject interesting. I was actually surprised at the abundance of material on this subject.