Bandura's studies on behaviorism indicate that children's initial ideas about good and bad behavior come from observing the social standards displayed by models with whom they identify. (Cole & Cole, 2001) Although, live adults models in the child's life are the most influential, they also learn about societal norms from the television programs they watch.
I chose to critique two animated programs for this assignment: "The Smurfs, a popular Saturday morning cartoon in the 1980's, and "The Powerpuff Girls, a current program on the cable station Cartoon Network.
The Smurfs is a program about a race of mythical blue creatures who stand "three apples high. They live in a sort of communal utopia with Papa Smurf, the eldest, as their leader. The only threat they must face is the evil (human) wizard Gargamel, who is constantly trying to capture the Smurfs, believing he can turn them into Gold. I'd say they are targeting the 4-8 year-old demographic, and are successful at holding their attention with bright colors, and simple story lines.
The Smurf Village is setup somewhat like a family, with Papa Smurf appropriately placed at the patriarchal head. Whenever he is away, trouble ensues, implying that children are incapable of functioning without their parents. The show does not encourage individuality, but rather a collectivist ideal.
I found it interesting that "The Smurfs," while ironically trying to deny the presence of race with their blue skin, projects the image of a racially homogenous community that will not accept any differences. The strict homogeneity of their village is especially important in the particular episode I chose to study, titled "The Smurfette, in which the first female Smurf is created.
Smurfette begins life as a little blue Frankenstein created by Gargamel to seduce and capture the Smurfs. She is welcomed with more than just friendship. Despite the fact that the male Smurfs have n