The Hidden Philosophy “in” Peppa Pig

What Peppa Pig “Taught Me” About Responsibilities

Let me open this up by saying the only thing I think Peppa Pig is good for is bacon. Kidding, I’m kidding.

As I am a grown man with no children, you may be asking of me, “Lucas … why on Earth are you watching a children’s show in the first place?” To which I would tell you that I’m currently learning Czech and - let me tell you - there aren’t many YouTube options for shows in Czech. Children’s TV in foreign language is a fantastic way to listen and learn, for those who are learning secondary languages.

However, we aren’t here to have a laugh at my Peppa Pigging.

Maybe it’s just me, but I remember my parents guarded what I watched as a kid.
No Power Rangers.
No Ninja Turtles.
I got to enjoy Inspector Gadget, sometimes.
But mostly, I watched things like Wishbone (yes, the one with the Jack Russel Terrier reading Classics like “Rumplestiltzkin” and he had a catchy theme song), Bill Nye (before he got heckin’ woke), Reading Rainbow (another banger of a theme song), Sesame Street and Magic School Bus among others. In retrospect, it’s easy to see that I enjoyed my fair share of PBS, but sometimes I got to watch more “entertainment oriented” shows like Dinosaurs and Home Improvement with my parents. And of course I partook in Disney movies.

So, as I watch Prásatko Peppina (her Czech alter-ego), I find myself very mildly entertained but the thought has occurred to me more than once; “What does this show offer to children? What is its value proposition?” Other than the children in the show having good manners, I’ve seen them violently washing vegetables, splashing water everywhere (which their parents laughed at), I saw the young boy (Tomáš in the Czech version — their form of “Thomas”) have a fit over spilling his ice cream as he wasn’t paying attention, to which he then was given his father’s ice cream, and in another, the boy refused to eat vegetables, loudly exclaiming “Yuck!” repeatedly to his grandparents who laughed and ultimately made the veggies into dinosaur shapes to trick him to eat them.

While all these things certainly happen to kids, there don’t seem to be clear or obvious lessons for little ones watching the show — Peppa and her brother seem appropriately portrayed as young children (and also have their age appropriate spats and outbursts), but the parents in the show seem to have a very laissez-faire, “Kids will be kids” attitude.

When their child misbehaves, instead of calling out the poor behavior, calmly stopping it, pulling them aside and explaining what’s going on, they tend to just do their (God awful) snorting laugh, which if anything would reinforce the behaviors. When I was getting my ABA degree, we discussed these parental roles in great depth and the importance of grooming your kiddos’ good behaviors while carefully pruning the bad away.
As Dr. Jordan Peterson says, “[Parents] teach children how to behave so that other people will be able to interact meaningfully and productively with them.” We should desire our children to grow into healthy, productive, likable adults, and to do this, we need to work with the end in mind. They’re “still kids,” of course, but at what age or threshold are they no longer “just kids?”

Despite all this, initially my mind went down the old, emotionally oriented human path of “How can someone make a show so devoid of meaning for children?” Children’s minds are so absorbent and plastic at young ages — why wouldn’t parents want them to watch something with moral guidance or educational content (let alone much TV at all)? Why would a network decide this is a good show? “Producers need to do a better job picking content for kids!” I exclaimed to myself in my mind.

However, as I’ve begun thinking deeper about it, I realized that the show has reminded me as a philosophical person that there is a lesson for me (and us) to recall in its lack:

We can only control ourselves and not others. We can control our perceptions and what we consume — literally and figuratively — and through this consumption and perception, we then attribute our internal labels of “good” or “bad.”

Is Peppa Pig as a show bad?

Arguably, this is a more philosophical question that you or I might like to admit. As I discuss in my forthcoming book, “good” and “bad” exist on a uniquely spherical spectrum where all things are both good and bad as well as neither good nor bad simultaneously.
Nothing is anything at all until we perceive it to be so.

Peppa Pig is good for me learning to listen to Czech.
It is good at being annoying (in my opinion!).
It is good for having that earworm of a song.
It is probably good at providing entertainment for littles.

Peppa Pig is (by my perception) bad for teaching anything substantive to children.
It is bad for setting examples of how we — as children or parents — ought to behave.

But, again, this discussion isn’t about whether a show is good or bad.

All this said, we cannot control others. I cannot make someone else behave in a certain manner as to how they raise their children. I can’t make producers produce better content — I can tune out as an individual, but this means little.

We can control ourselves.
We can opt to go for a walk around the block each morning.
Choose to drink a glass of water with our meals instead of pop.
Decide to watch a Czech episode of a children’s show first before we want to watch TV instead of just jumping right to sprawling out with a bowl of popcorn to be entertained.

So, while to me, Peppa Pig is the metaphorical educational equivalent of Doritos’ nutritional value for growing children’s minds, at the end of the day, it is up to the market and the individual parents to decide what it is worth to them and, by extension, their children.

We must decide for ourselves “What ‘Good’ looks like” and align our behaviors in a manner consistent with this.

This is all we can do.

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