I hope I know I’m not the only parent out there that’s disgusted by the influx of cartoon characters with speech impediments. Sure, we grew up with them- Bugs Bunny’s articulation problems, Porky Pigs disfluency and Wile E. Coyote’s selective mutism. BUT, we also played outside with our friends more than we sat in front of the tube. Heck cartoons in the 70′s, 80′s and early 90′s were meant to pacify kids on weekend mornings so their parents could get an extra hour or two of rest, NOT TEACH CHILDREN everything their parents were supposed to be teaching them. And cartoon characters weren’t mass marketed the way they are now- via video games, plush stuffed animals, board games, etc.. I remember thinking it was SUPER SPECIAL when we’d get a licensed character in a Happy Meal.
Boy O boy have times changed. It seems apparent that living in a modern “accept everything” society justifies exposing our tots to less than proper grammar, and word pronunciation simply because it makes for a “cute” character, or because little Timmy down the block can relate. Just this weekend my tot received a few Sesame Street books(yes, the same Sesame Street that aims to teach tots the fundamentals) that seemed to be written by a 10 year old. The slang, mispronunciations, and spelling errors left me feeling as if I were the next great American writer…and we all know I can make a mistake or two.
Speech impediments are serious, and I’m by no means dismissing the severity of the condition or the struggle those who have them face every day. I’m merely stating that children would be less likely to emulate such characters, and possibly develop an impediment if they weren’t exposed to it. Rather than create characters based on the ills our children already face, how about create a few characters on that which we hope they’ll grow to be.