So here I am, minding my own business on the internets when I’m reading a story on the season finale of the NBC show Revolution (Great show btw, that NBC
completely lucked out into a successful show shrewdly created.) when I noticed at the end of the article a link on HuffPo that was ominously titled:
Was “Doug” Racist?
My immediate reaction is: WHAT IN GOD’S GREEN EARTH IS GOING ON?!?! DOUG COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE RACIST! EVERY BLOODY PERSON ON THAT SHOW IS A COLOR FROM A CRAYOLA BOX!
Naturally, I click on the link to get ready to defend the honor and good name of a fictional, 90’s cartoon character when I read the article on HuffPo which then linked to the original source on Jezebel and after careful reading and analysis… Here’s what I found to be the main points these articles make that make Doug Funnie out to be a Grand Wizard:
- The lead character (Doug) and his family are the only “white” people. For a show that seemed to be altruistically going leagues out of its way to promote “diversity”, the decision to have its titular character and his family shaded what can only be deduced as white/caucasian while all of the other characters are “colored” (no pun intended) does speak volumes. It’s not even debated that this decision wasn’t intentional, but let’s be real here. Doug premiered in 1991. Was Nickelodeon really going to step outside the box here and put a black (or green/purple/plaid) character as the lead in a kids show? I doubt it.
- Doug’s main crush is a blonde-haired, Southern accented girl named “Patti Mayonnaise”. Ok, this one if you look at it a certain way does seem to nail the white-centric theme a little harder. With all the different colors of the age-appropriate girls in Doug’s class, the one he is drawn to has the surname of literally the whitest-possible condiment on the planet. Coincidence? Probably (?) In terms of skin tone, she’s got a little more “color” to her, but it’s more closer to the complexion of a very tanned Caucasian person.
- Doug was the “normal” kid while all of his “colored” friends were “quirky/weird/bully/etc”. It’s plain to see that Doug is clearly the All-American, typical kid that young children associate with most, he’s got a dog, a sister, and two loving parents. Yeah, he pretends to be a superhero that wears underwear over his shorts and has a belt on his head, but that’s just Doug! But look at some of the other friends and think about: Skeeter – Blue, best friend/sidekick, honks when he laughs, generally assumed to be African-American foil to Doug; Roger – Green, mean bully, wears leather jacket, general asshole to Doug; BeBe – Purple, spoiled, rich brat, daughter of the town’s mayor. Basically, all of Doug’s counterparts are seemingly just slightly off. Not in line with the nice, safe, stable lifestyle of the All-American typical kid right?
So, after all this reading what do I think? I think Nickelodeon, in trying to create diversity and harmony and “we’re all just color-blind here in Dougville”, did what any giant entertainment conglomerate would do: Aim for the biggest target. We can’t honestly hold Doug to our current socially diverse cultural lines. Nick isn’t trying to be Rosa Parks on the back of the bus here, but they at least tried to incorporate some diversity in their animated world. Yes, Doug is white. It’s obvious. But the fact that all of these other characters are “colored” and Doug isn’t doesn’t make the show racist. I just think they wrote to what they know, created a character most similar to their target audience, and just made a show for kids. That’s all!
Now the real question is how does Spongebob walk on the bottom of the sea if he’s a sponge? Shouldn’t he float? Discuss.