Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Fun Friday: Morning Television

My daughter probably watches too much television. And it's a poor excuse, but she is so busy, that sometimes it's nice to have her be distracted for twenty minutes by Dora the Explorer, or Handy Manny, or Little Einsteins or My Friends, Tigger and Pooh. In fact, my daughter is a big fan of all the Playhouse Disney shows (and I have to say we all love Charlie and Lola!), which makes me feel less bad about the fact that she's watching television.

You see, these shows have educational content. They teach shapes, colors, foreign languages, music, sharing, helping others, and so on. And there's something to be said for that. I view these shows for what they can impart to my daughter, not whether I find them palatable as a viewer. And she and I, and her mom, talk about the shows a lot. I can see her taking what she's learned on the show and applying it to the world around her.

I remember little about what I watched for television when I was 2 1/2 years old. I know there was Sesame Street, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Readalong (you would not BELIEVE how hard it was to find this show!), Schoolhouse Rock (not really a show per se, but analogous to Emily Yeung or Captain Carlos), and The Electric Company (which is such a 1970s show it's not even funny). And I know that I watched some of those shows more attentively when I was older.

I also know that there was a lot of stuff that I watched on tv that had no redeemable educational content. Stuff like Speed Racer, Battle of the Planets, Sid & Marty Kroft shows, Tom & Jerry/Grape Ape Show (with some dreadful animations), Hong Kong Phooey, Shazam!/Isis Hour, Wonder Woman, and lots of things lost to time. Really, lots of Hanna-Barbara cartoons in the 1970s were pretty bad.

A lot of this stuff is available now on DVD, and this could be a great thing to promote in your library to draw in people my age (35+). I would love to watch some of those shows again, and see if they stood the test of time. I'm not about to buy a DVD set of Thundarr the Barbarian just to be disappointed (even if it did mean I would get to see the episode that got pre-empted by the return of the Iran Hostages in 1981). But seriously, Thundarr's not available that I can tell, so I'm not trying to make some sort of announcement.

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