While a former writer of the popular Christian animated show VeggieTales argues there is just one race of vegetables, one college student raises an interesting question. If all vegetables are descended from vegetables Adam and Eve, who ate the forbidden fruit, then why are the “evil” characters in the children’s show darker shades with accents?
Cal State San Marcos’s Annual Whiteness Forum is a project from professor Dreama Moon’s “Communication of Whiteness” class. This year’s forum featured projects by students who claimed that the NFL is racist, as it has white owners but the teams are mainly composed of black men, and that women who back President Trump further white supremacy by supporting him. But perhaps the hottest take is the theory surrounding VeggieTales.
The female author of the project doesn’t just believe that VeggieTales enforces racial stereotypes, she believes that it may “taint” children as their minds are still developing.
“When supremacists aim to taint the way children think of people of color, it will work,” the project reads. “Whiteness in the Bible isn’t just seen as ‘power’ it’s seen as ‘good.’ When kids see the good white character triumph over the bad person of color character they are taught that white is right and minorities are the source of evil.”
The student believes that the evil characters, who she claims are not redeemable, sound “ethnic” or “Latino,” and the good characters sound white.
Bob and Larry, a tomato and a cucumber who remind children that “God made you special and he loves you very much,” are red and green (also, tomatoes are fruit), but is this college student completely wrong, seeking to find racism in anything that people enjoy?
Probably not, as this has happened often.
Cartoon character’s accents and colors affect the way we perceive them. Sociolinguist Calvin Gidney told the Atlantic that villains are often depicted with nonstandard dialects.
The associate professor in child study and human development at Tufts University who specializes in sociolinguistics made a note of Scar, from The Lion King, who spoke in a British accent. Meanwhile, his minions, the hyenas, spoke in African-American English or English with a Spanish accent.
“Villainy is marked just by sounding different,” he told the outlet, and the examples seem to be endless. The crows in Dumbo jive-talk and the main crow is even named “Jim Crow.” Siamese cats are often the villains with thick Asian accents, as seen in Lady and the Tramp and The Aristocats.
Villains, Gidney hypothesizes, are painted as “not like us,” due to their accent, making differences appear to be evil.
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