The Federalist Tries To Cancel 'The Baby-Sitters Club' For Teaching Children Morals
Columnists at The Federalist have long been very upset about cancel culture. This outrage has gone up exponentially over the last few weeks with reactions to "the letter" and various other incidents. Oh, how they have wept for poor, censored Bari Weiss. How they have hailed J.K. Rowling (whom they previously could not stand) for having the courage to tell other people what gender they are, and to stand up, so bravely, to people on Twitter who thought it was shitty of her to do that.
My personal favorite here is an article in which Chrissy Teigen is blasted as a hypocrite for being mad about people saying obviously untrue things about her having been in cahoots with Jeffrey Epstein, when she has previously criticized people for things that were true. These things are the same!
Also good is the one about how a silent majority isn't enough to win the culture war.
It truly is a wonder how anyone who thinks they are fighting a "culture war" can also simultaneously see themselves as standing up for "freeze peach."
But speaking of the "culture war" that the Right has been fighting and losing since before any of us were even born, The Federalist is also very mad at "The Baby-Sitters Club" this week.
I am an expert in these matters. Not only did I read, I am pretty sure, almost the entire Baby-Sitters Club series in third and fourth grade in my relentless pursuit of Pizza Hut personal pan pizzas from the Book It program, but I watched the whole entire first season of the new Netflix series with my sister last week. If you ask me, it was very good! I enjoyed it. It was very true to the series (which I retained a surprisingly clear memory of) in the ways that were necessary, and necessarily changed in ways that updated it for a modern audience. My only issue is that it seems as though the new Mallory is not the worst, and I now feel somewhat bad about how much I was looking forward to irrationally hating a fictional 11-year-old girl. Mallory was always the Enid Rollins of the Baby-Sitters Club.
But I digress! The series is good and if you were a big fan of the series when you were a kid, you will like it. Well, unless you are weird transphobic Federalist columnist Elisha Krauss.
Within five minutes, I was awed at how expertly the writers weaved in feminist lingo and preteen angst while also being slightly scared that this wasn't an anomaly, but what my girls are growing up with all around them: leftist propaganda under the guise of cute and entertaining television.
So weird how a show about preteen girls starting their own business would "weave in" feminist lingo and preteen angst. Obviously it would be far more preferable to have a show where the girls go to start their own baby-sitters club and are then told that they need to leave the businessing to the boys and dedicate themselves to finding a suitable husband so that they can get married right out of high school and then take care of their own babies. Or whatever it would look like if conservatives made their own version of "The Baby-Sitters Club."
Krauss was also mad that something with feminist lingo might be rated for a general audience:
Thinking to myself that "maybe movies and television ratings are different from what I remember," I quickly Googled what exactly the TV-G rating means. According to Fandom, the rating means it's supposed to be for everyone.
Whoa if true. I honestly had no idea what Krauss was even talking about, so luckily she explained it in the next paragraph.
In addition to the "men are evil and women are systemically oppressed" undertones during the opening scenes, I was aghast when Kristy speculated that Stacey probably has an eating disorder, the club founder displayed horrible, bratty behavior toward her mom, and Claudia showed off her "art" of a "menstruation sculpture." All that was on display in the first episode.
Oh no, a show for preteens bringing up eating disorders? Much like the episode of "Full House" where DJ is nervous about Kimmy's pool party, Aunt Becky suggests she eat ice cubes like popsicles and then DJ passes out on a treadmill because ice cubes are not food? A show for preteens addressing menstruation? Like the entire plot of the book Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret? Or the second episode of "Blossom"? So weird. Wait 'til she finds out about all of the "feminist lingo" spouted by one Jessie Spano.
If Elisha Krauss is of an age where she read The Baby-Sitters Club, it seems unlikely that she somehow missed all of the other "progressive for the time" things going on in TV shows directed at preteens and children. This is nothing new. There are very few TV shows directed towards children wherein the big lesson they are supposed to learn is that it is okay to be terrible to people for being different. And yet, she is very mad at a scene in the second episode, Mary Anne Saves The Day, in which Mary Anne babysits for a transgender girl who gets sick and has to go to the hospital.
Soon after the mom leaves, the tween calls 911 for help when the child runs a severely high temperature. When they get to the hospital, the nurse and doctor refer to Bailey as a boy and ask how "he" is doing. This is where Mary Anne asserts herself. Her father rolls in just in time to watch proudly as his 12-year-old daughter scolds the medical duo for misgendering Bailey and making "her" uncomfortable. She then demands a pink hospital gown because Bailey doesn't want to put on the blue one.
Krauss claims this is "transgender propaganda," rather than the incredibly standard children's television programming trope of finding out someone is "different" and then standing up for them. Like when that kid on "Mr. Belvedere" was kicked out of school for having AIDS but then later played Abraham Lincoln in the school play, and I really don't remember what went on in between those two things, but you get the picture.
And that's the point. The creators and writers are adeptly weaving these messages into our entertainment as if they are not just normal and socially acceptable, but the very essence of what's just. The takeaway message is that if you don't believe Mary Anne's defense of the trans kid then you are a bad person. The word "bigot" is never mentioned, but tone matters. The pride shown by her father, the accolades he showers her with, and how excited she is for her moment to shine say more than enough.
If it's liberal propaganda to tell kids not to be a dick to people who are different than they are, Krauss is going to have to shield her young children from pretty much any show made within the last 30 years and instead just show them old Donahue interviews of Ayn Rand talking about how empathy is bad. Even "The Patty Duke Show" is probably off the table, owing to the fact that Patty loves to rock and roll and a heartthrob makes her lose control. Not appropriate! (EDIT: Apparently it is a "hot dog" that made Patty lose control, which ... I don't know, man. But apparently Patty Duke also thought this was weird, so that's nice and validating.)
They're far too young to be watching 12-year-olds kissing at camp, expertly wearing blue glitter liner, or back-talking their parents on TV. I wouldn't let these babysitters watch our girls in real life, so why would I let my girls watch them?
I mean, you don't have to. But then they won't be able to grow up and casually toss out references to 30-year-old books and movies in articles about whiny culture warrior essays in The Federalist.
The fact remains, if everything in this scenario were switched around, The Federalist would be complaining that mean liberals were trying to "cancel" "The Baby-Sitters Club" for teaching kids morals. If they want to criticize the Left for criticizing media, for criticizing anything, really, then they too must refrain from doing that. They're just going to have to "win" the culture war some other way. Or not.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse