Sunday, September 25, 2005

Space Program Canceled!

by Tom Bozzo

Only eight hours after its announcement, the program to build a Thomas the Tank Engine spaceship was terminated by the boy, who emphatically DIDN'T want me to work on the project after he got up from his nap.

John did, however, still want a "spaceship," so I went to work on building Stephen the SST, the private aircraft of the Duke and Duchess.
Too bad. I think the world would be a better place if Thomas and all of the other Really Insecure Engines were launched into space. Permanently.
Kim, I have to say I'm no worse than ambivalent about Thomas & Co. For one thing, our next best toddler TV alternative, right now, is Blue's Clues. Also, I think the message that even the obsolescent can make themselves Really Useful is not oversupplied by the zeitgeist. On the other hand, there's the Sodor aristocracy, and the implicit threat that the less-useful will be sent to the breakers... so maybe they're insecure mainly because of oppression from Sir Topham Hatt.
I agree with your cogent analysis of Thomas the Frickin' Tank Engine. I would sure like to see picture of the TtFTE spaceship, though.
It's the gender dynamics that get me. Male engines outnumber female engines, what, 5:1? And the few female engines tend to be either bossy know-it-alls (Emily) or silent-but-beautiful trophies (Lady). All the drivers and workpeople are male. The only female human characters that I've seen are the Duchess of Whatever, who is completely indispensible, and Lady Hatt, who is always off shopping. Best of all, though, are the female coaches (e.g., Annie, Clarabel, Henrietta) who are *given* to male engines as a reward for being Really Useful.

It's no wonder that my three-year old announced to me, "Mommie, only GUYS can be train engineers." To a sometimes student of sex segregation in the workplace, this was nearly grounds for signing the adoption papers...
Kim: Excellent points. I definitely missed the gender dynamics for the economic dynamics. It seems to be a consequence of Sodor society not having been updated from mid-40's Britain.

Phantom: The spaceship is still under construction. I haven't decided how, or even if, I'd give it a face. If you want a preview (as well as evidence of the extent of my geekery), it'll end up being a smaller sibling to these.
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