Sunday, June 15, 2014

Here's how 'The Super Friends' messed up a whole generation of kids

Hey, kids! See this stuff? Don't do it. 

Those screenshots up there are from a September 24, 1977 episode of the ABC animated series The All-New Super Friends Hour. Specifically, these images were culled from a segment called "Hitchhike" in which the Wonder Twins, a pair of incredibly wholesome super-powered teenage alien siblings, have to rescue a girl who is kidnapped while thumbing a ride. Obviously, the point of the show is that kids shouldn't take ride from strangers because there are some weird, dangerous people out there. That's an admirable message, I guess, if a little heavy for a Saturday morning cartoon show. But how did Super Friends go about conveying this vital lesson to their young audience? Well, for one thing, they drew the hitchhiker as a statuesque, Monroe-type blonde and put her in hot pants and a sleeveless t-shirt, thus making her only slightly more covered-up than Wonder Woman. They even give her a modified Betty Page hairdo. And, of course, the plot requires this young lady to be saved by the Wonder Twins rather than chopped up and discarded in a ditch by the highway. So not only is she totally fine, she gets to meet and interact with superheroes from outer space! Is this going to deter anyone from hitchhiking? To me, this glamorizes some risky behavior. The show kind of clouds the issue, too, by having her hitchhike right next to a sign that reads "BUS STOP." Does she not know what that sign means? Does she think that green sedan is a bus, maybe? Maybe at the end of the show, the Wonder Twins could have explained to this young lady how public transportation works. As it is, the show is basically a how-to, step-by-step instructional video for hitchhiking. Hey, kids, see what this sexy blonde lady is doing? Don't do it. Maybe this episode inspired a whole generation of kids to head downtown, park themselves on street corners, stick their thumbs out, and take the first ride they get from strange men in pea-green Buicks. If so, their blood is on your hands, Hanna Barbera.

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