In a recent interview with The Christian Post, Phil Vischer, the co-creator of VeggieTales, a long-running Christian computer-animated cartoon series, said that the acceptance of gay characters in childrens’ cartoons is “concerning” and not “best for kids.”
Vischer was asked how he felt about a May 2019 episode of the PBS children’s cartoon Arthur in which the title character’s male teacher married another man — they’re both cartoon rats. Alabama banned the episode and Twitter mocked them for it.
“Parents are definitely going to have to deal with a growing LGBT presence in children’s media. It’s going to show up more and more as the world has decided that LGBT issues are in the same categories as race and civil rights issues. So to say you shouldn’t have a same-sex couple on Sesame Street is the equivalent of saying you shouldn’t have a black couple on Sesame Street….”
“The most striking thing about that episode of Arthur wasn’t that they thought it was time to introduce kids to gay marriage; it was the reaction of all the kids on the show. None of them asked questions about why two men were getting married. Their reaction was, ‘Oh, OK! Great!’”
“It’s such a strong message of, ‘Well kids, of course you’re fine with gay marriage, because there’s nothing to question about it.’ That’s a little more concerning….”
“If I get pressure from Hollywood to show two men getting married because we’ve all decided it’s right and correct, my pushback is: ‘No, I won’t. Because that’s not what I believe is best for kids.”
We strongly disagree with Vischer’s belief that showing a gay marriage in a children’s cartoon would not be “best for kids,” but he might actually have a point about the value of showing at least one character in a kid’s cartoon questioning it.
Many kids get raised in antigay or sheltered households where they’ve never been exposed to the concept same-sex marriage or have been told that it’s wrong. These young viewers might benefit from seeing a cartoon that briefly questions and then explains why two men would want to marry.
But one could say that Arthur did better by simply depicting gay marriage as a normal thing (which it is) and leaving children at home to talk with their parents or think for themselves about why gay marriage matters.
Either way, Vischer said his cartoon will eventually “be forced to figure out how to explicitly address [gay characters],” adding, “It would be easy to do it poorly” because even Christians are divided on how to address same-sex marriages with their kids.
In short, don’t expect to see Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber or Madame Blueberry tackle the topic anytime soon.