January 07, 2004

Call for Papers

I was watching Thomas Gets Bumped the other day (approximately my 4,127th viewing of this video since Christmas Day), and during the segment entitled "Diesel Does it Again" something occurred to me:

Sir Topham Hat is a labor-exploiting robber baron.

See, in "Diesel Does it Again," poor Percy and Duck are being severely overworked down at the docks, so Sir Topham Hat promises to get them help. He does, but the help arrives in the form of Diesel, a nasty, bullying, bad-tempered engine who wreaks havoc and gets into trouble wherever he goes. Naturally, Diesel screws up, so Duck and Percy attempt to go on strike. Sir Topham Hat busts the strike, Diesel screws up and gets sent away, and Duck and Percy happily agree to continue doing twice the work themselves, so long as Diesel never returns.

Very clever, Topham Hat, you money-grubbing capitalist bastard! If I were in a more lit-crit frame of mind, I could discourse at length over the portrayal of the worker as mindless machine, the post-colonial themes inherent in the Percy/Duck/Diesel Topham Hat dynamic, complete with sub-chapter on the semiotics of skin color and the sea...but I won't. Suffice it to say that someone should alert Terry Eagleton to the exploitative capitalist propaganda inherent in this British children's series. Help! The Man is indoctrinating our children to become mindless cogs in the labor machine! Power to the People! Revolution Now!

The saddest thing about all of the above is that there's probably an MLA panel in there somewhere...

Posted by Big Arm Woman at January 7, 2004 01:53 PM

If there isn't yet, I'm sure there will be. Between the propagandizing of our children into becoming mindless drones of the capitalist system and then scaring the heck out of them with the violent crashes, soon Thomas will be banned in all right (or should I say left?) thinking households. As are most things that children find amusing or interesting.

Posted by: Jordana at January 7, 2004 11:31 PM

Actually, Sir Thopham Hatt is a representative of the old-line aristocracy trying to continue their system under the Industrial Revolution. ((Yeah, I know it's two sides of the Marxist coin of analysis, but it's different enough for a second topic.) All we need now is a paper on the gay erotic subtext of Driver thrusting coal into Thomas's boiler and we have a panel.

I'm beginning to think there needs to be an MLA parody webjournal.

Posted by: Michael at January 8, 2004 10:51 AM