With a hat tip to former NBA star Rex Chapman, if you are of a certain age, join me in celebrating the official debut of Schoolhouse Rock! For those of us who recall Saturday morning cartoons, these short videos taught us about the English language, historical figures, and the basics of how the federal government works. Later, the creators ventured into topics related to science and how things work. “Conjunction Junction” debuted today in 1973:
With bright colors, a cartoon format, and a musical approach, Schoolhouse Rock! stuck. As I spend time with children now, I see them watching garbage YouTube videos that are nothing but marketing vehicles for toy companies. Take Genevieve’s Playhouse, where a grown woman is playing with figurines of characters popular with young children. There are other channels where children make videos to market toys. According to the parents I speak with, this is very lucrative for the creators. It is also an astounding amount of commercialism. Here is another grown woman playing with LOL Dolls:
Schoolhouse Rock! created a winning formula, and if you remember the series, I will bet you can sing a fair portion of “I’m Just a Bill.” The short cartoons were so popular that the complete series ran from 1973 to 1986 during Saturday morning cartoons and ABC After School Specials. Schoolhouse Rock! reappeared in 1992 and released new episodes in 2002 after Disney purchased ABC. The series currently resides on Disney+, and anyone can find many of the videos on YouTube.
Daily Wire is making inroads into adult entertainment with the release of Run, Hide, Fight and two other full-length movies pending. Fox Nation is putting out patriotic and values-based content for adults behind its paywall, but children’s content is not as easy to find. If conservatives are serious about influencing the culture, we should look to the past and find a way to update it for a new generation of children.
There are some book series for kids. The Tuttle Twins and Bethany Mandel’s new “Heroes of Liberty” bundle come to mind. However, these books most often arrive in the home through a deliberate action by a parent or relative. Children will not stumble across them unless they are in the classroom or the school library. The significant part of Schoolhouse Rock! was that any child could trip over it watching typical children’s programming. The Tuttle Twins has five cartoon episodes on Facebook for now. However, influencing the culture requires becoming ubiquitous. The challenge now is sneaking the messages, lessons, and concepts contained in the twins’ adventures and the biographies of prominent conservative heroes into engaging formats that children get exposed to in popular culture.
Unfortunately, that may mean recreating these stories with LOL dolls or popular children’s toys and creating YouTube videos. Or it could mean continued progress in taking over local school boards and ensuring content like “Heroes of Liberty” ends up in the school library and is included at the appropriate place in the history curriculum. However, the movement must also work to provide avenues where children can just run into the ideas of American exceptionalism, the value of the individual, the genius of our founding, and the meaning of freedom that most entertainment and school curriculum are not providing. The future of the republic depends on it.
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