Charlie, Tom, Raz and Rocco are superheroes on a mission to save the world from General Junk, whose evil plan is to destroy the world by stealing all its fruit and vegetables. Luckily, these "Food Dudes" have superpowers that spring into action whenever they eat their greens. In completing their mission, the Food Dudes also hope to save the lives of millions of real children who risk early death from cancer, heart disease and diabetes because they refuse to eat fruit and vegetables.
Let's look at this realistically (from a small child's point of view):
- Candy, cookies, cakes, pies, and so on TASTE GOOD.
- Most vegetables and fruits, in comparison, DO NOT.
- Thus, seeing things like this make a conflict of interest. This conflict is never properly addressed.
- Since the film doesn't address the truth of the matter, kids quickly see these as lies.
- Since a LOT of parents lie to their kids, along with teachers, this just reinforces the fact.
I'd like to add that I also noticed that most of these heavy-handed moral stories are so preachy, their very nature makes them suspicious. They are delivered in the same tone a small child uses to convince a parent they are not lying when they are totally lying. Small children are completely aware of this form of deception, maybe more than most adults.
The story I always LOVE to tell involves my friend Neal in 4th grade. Neal was keen to guess a trick before anyone else. I attribute that to his parents. His father is the master of deadpan humor, quick to pull a joke on anyone. Anyone who grew up under his roof ended up a wise and skeptical person... maybe a bit cynical and sarcastic, too. Because of this, it was tough for another adult to fool him.
One day, our teacher Mrs. Scoggin came to us students, with a syrupy proposal:
"Hey, kids, how would YOU like a COMIC book, absolutely FREE, as a PRESENT?"
Sadly, the phrase was delivered in the same type of sugary and hushed tone that those cheesy "drug dealers" in those after school "Say No to Strangers with Candy" specials. Those from my generation remember those stereotypes: some white dude representing some "scary hippy," wearing a corduroy vest, bell bottoms with patches, and a wide floppy hat. Sometimes he had a scarf. They hid their shifty eyes with those oversized shades. I think it was the same actor for every damn film. This was not how drug dealers looked back then, if ever. But the people who made those films thought so, and so the teachers thought so. And in my own subconscious, anyone offering me anything with that tone of voice since then has (beneficially) raised alarms. I guess it didn't with other students, because they were going "Oh, oh, oh, yes, we want a free comic book!"
But not Neal.
He, too, smelt a rat, but he had far more guts than I did, and openly refused.
"Oh, but it's a comic book!" said the teacher, like Neal was refusing manna from God. "C'mon man, it's a *comic book*!" I recall one student saying, like Neal he was trying to snap Neal out of some evil trance, jeopardizing what was obviously an opportune lapse in teacher uncoolness. Neal refused again. Neal was under the opinion that it couldn't actually be a real, fun-to-read comic book; it was probably a thinly disguised workbook. He didn't say this, but this is what he was thinking, and refused to sign the paper.
When Neal refused again, I joined in. I said that we read above the comic book level, and cited I had been reading adult level novels for over two years now. I was quickly silenced with an angry look. The teacher wisely did not pursue this, but apparently ordered the books for us anyway. Weeks later, when Mrs. Scoggin passed them out and gave him one, Neal pointed out that he hadn't ordered one, and she casually said, "Oh, I ordered one for you." Mrs. Scoggin had given us a choice: whoever wanted one could sign the sheet. Why? That made no sense! If we signed, it meant we wanted a book, right? And he didn't, right? So the only logical course was not to sign, right? Neal just couldn't understand it. In his own words:
Now that's what pissed me off. Not that I had to work in the workbook -- if she had simply told us that we were going to have this workbook, I would have accepted it like any other assignment -- but the fact that the choice had all been a sham. If she was going to order one for everyone anyway, why give us a c choice? But I wasn't articulate enough to say that. Instead, I just said, "Aw, heck!" and got sent to the office. Dad got mad at me that night, and said the lesson I should learn was that when a teacher suggested doing something, very often it was not optional. But I still think that her offering the choice to us was either a poorly thought out plan, or an actual Machiavellian tactic to give us the illusion of choice. To give her the benefit of the doubt, I'll assume the former.As you may have guessed by this point, it wasn't *really* a comic book, but a comic-book-esque thing done probably by the same artists for H.R. Puffinstuff. It was called "4-4-3-2 Mulligan Stew," and was a thinly veiled attempt to sweeten and dumb down the concept of nutrition for fourth graders.
"Oh, man, we were tricked!" clamored some kids. Yeah, you were. Beware of Teachers bearing comics, dumbass.
But Neal wasn't tricked. I wish there had been a better ending to this, but sadly, all of us, including Neal, had to do homework assignments on family nutrition that were about as fun as a visit to the dentist. I guess I would always remember Neal from this point on as not accepting crap, and being unconventional.