The girls are aged 6 and 9, and ripe and ready for all the pop social media Nickelodeon and Disney channels produce for children.
They love: ICarly and Victorious
(they also have watched but never obsessed over Wizards of Waverly Place, Sonny with a Chance, Suite Life of Zach and Cody, Big Time Rush)
And while they also watch the PBS educational programmes of Fetch with Ruff Ruffman and SciGirls and DragonflyTV (yay for a biracial Japanese hostess named Mariko!), right now my children are obsessed with True Jackson, VP.
And I’m conflicted.
It’s a racial thing. All the shows mentioned above are pretty white-bread. ICarly is all-white. Victorious has Andre, but he’s the epitome of a sidekick, sometimes silly, sometimes smart, never the focus of an episode.
True Jackson is really the only exposure my children have to US Black culture (other than a few youtube videos of Chris Brown and Jordin Sparks songs girl1 got into from her dance class). And while True Jackson actually has 3 (gasp) people of color on the show, two of them are relegated to silly or minor roles.
True herself, played by Keke Palmer, is the only character in the shows my girls watch who is shown as someone other kids want to emulate. And she sometimes busts out with humor that isn’t the straight snarky, cutting humor you find in ICarly or Victorious, a lot of the time I wish there was more there.
Because it worries me that the girls, who will have to deal with various issues when being regarded as “white” or “minority”, aren’t growing up with TV images that reflect major parts of US culture.
While I have my wish list out, why can’t Disney or Nickelodeon come up with an Asian-American main character other than thinly veiled Paris Hilton reference London? Or a Kung-fu supergeek?