July 29th, 2012Curiosity Killed the Monkeyby Joseph Pearce

The culture of death does not believe in having children but it's pretty adept at corrupting other people's kids. The poison seeps through the relativist schmaltz of Disney et al and it's very difficult to protect one's own children from being intoxicated by this soporifically banal dross. We have tried to protect our own children by getting rid of the television, indubitably one of the best decisions we've made. Our four-year-old daughter gets to watch children's videos on the computer and my wife does her best to monitor the nature of the programming that she sees. The Wiggles strike me as pretty healthy and fairly traditional in their approach. They even include avowedly Christian songs on their Christmas DVDs, which seems to take a degree of courage in these increasingly intolerant days. Veggie Tales are good fun, of course, and unabashedly Christian. I've grown fond of Handy Manny and his indestructible gentleness, though the world in which he moves is sanitized to avoid any mention of religion.

My daughter's current favourite is Curious George, which seems harmless for the most part, but, as lawyers never tire of reminding us, the devil is in the detail. Personally speaking, being something of a pedant, it irritates me that George is always described by everyone as a monkey when he is quite clearly an ape. It seems to me that these are exactly the sort of details you would hope would be correct in programming designed to educate children. This is, however, a minor quibble beside the sugar coated poison masquerading as a moral at the end of the movie-length Curious George that my daughter has taken to watching addictively in the car. It was from my position in the front seat that I heard the moral at the end of the movie and felt sufficiently aggrieved to want to vent my spleen on the Ink Desk. The moral, given by the authority figure, i.e. the ape's owner, is that learning the facts about a thing is all well and good but the best way of learning something is to experience it yourself. This may seem harmless enough but, like Pandora's box, it contains a multitude of sins. It is saying the same thing as an old mentor of mine who argued that "experience cannot be imparted, it must be gained". For years I thought this was true and employed the phrase as one of my personal mottoes to guide me through life - with disastrous consequences.

If we believe that "experience can't be imparted, it must be gained", we are in danger of believing that our parents have nothing to teach us. They might tell us that a certain thing is wrong or dangerous but until we have tried it, how can we know? Taking things further, this belief also leads to the dismissal of the past as being worthless as a teacher of the present. We can't learn from the mistakes of others. We can only learn from our own mistakes. Quite frankly, this is a very stupid way to learn. If a parent tells a child that they should not get too close to the fire or to the burner on the stove because they might get hurt, it is much better for the child to believe them and keep their distance from the flames than to insist upon the experience of getting burned.

In the real world, as opposed to the fantasy world of secularist cartoons, Curious George and his owner would soon discover that seeking unbridled "experience" in the absence of the wisdom to be gleaned from our elders is dangerous. Curiosity kills so-called "monkeys" as well as cats.

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  • July 30 2012 | by Recent Convert

    That's sad, I liked the books when I wa a kid (or was it the show...?). These days, there is almost no entertainment (educational or not) untouched by the culture of death.

    Speaking of secularists and their ilk, does anyone here at the ink desk have any thoughts or comments on the London Olympic games, specifically the opening ceremonies? Considering what they are meant for, I thought London's bombed. Yeah there were a few funny parts, but over all it was pretty vapid. Guess the only thing worth celebrating in Britain is it's pop culture and socialist health care system.
    This guy pretty much says it all:
  • July 31 2012 | by Titus

    Surely that's not *actually* the lesson of the original Curious George books. If anything, the lesson there is that transgressing the boundaries established by authority is dangerous: George certainly never learns from his prior "experiences" any more than he learns from admonitions before the fact.
  • July 31 2012 | by Kyle Kanos

    I have always felt that the PBS George and the H A Rey George are two very different apes, the latter being more worth ones time (mostly since it is the original).