People angered over gay wedding between cartoon rat and aardvark on Arthur
On May 13 the twenty-second season of the children’s show Arthur premiered with an episode entitled “Mr. Ratburn and the special someone.” This episode was released all throughout the states, except for Alabama, and it is available online.
The episode featured the wedding of Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, who is marrying another man (or should I saw aardvark).
The episode does not discuss the teacher’s sexuality in any way nor does it even show the ceremony between the two men. The only way to know that this marriage is same-sex marriage is when the two walk down the aisle at the closing of the ceremony.
In the episode, the focus is not placed on the sexuality of the teacher, and none of the children find it odd that their teacher is marrying another man. It was looked at solely as a celebration of love between two people. That’s it.
The programming director of Alabama television came out after the episode aired stating exactly why they did not air the program.
They claim that although they do support parents and children watching TV together and discussing the program after, they know children will watch television alone.
By broadcasting an episode that features these types of themes, a parent could feel as though their rights to decide what their children watch is taken away from them. A parent might find the same-sex marriage episode to not be suitable for their children because of beliefs or their age.
Now, I’m all for freedom to choose (even if Alabama isn’t), but this is something that I can’t really wrap my head around.
The reality is, that whether it is on television or not, children are going to be exposed to many different families when they enter school, so pushing away representation might not be the best idea.
We live in a place where even though loving who you want to love is legal, many family dynamics are pushed to the side and underrepresented in the media.
The great thing about being in a world of mass broadcasting and mass communication is that it creates a space where people are able to see many different types of families and couples and bring validation to those relationships.
When I was growing up, I got to see myself and my family represented over and over again in television shows, movies and books, almost to the point of it getting boring.
But, I sometimes think about some of my friends and wonder if they ever had their families or themselves represented through media. If they didn’t, did that hurt them in any way? Did they think that they weren’t normal or they couldn’t be authentically themselves?
The only show that was on when I was a kid that I can remember having someone of the LGBTQ+ community on it was Will and Grace, and even though my mom let me watch it, I was not exposed to the community through television catered to my demographic.
This is why I think this show is so important, and it’s necessary for children to be exposed to such things. It is so crucial for children to feel as though their feelings and experiences are valid and normal.