Ethos Statement for Commander Burdoo

    I joined the Jihad way back in Spring 1996, nearly three years ago.
It was kind of as an afterthought to examining posts to the newsgroup and
reading the articles, and my selection of TRES Corps was largely random
(well, aided by the fact that two major Corps-persons were fellow
    I can't even remember what was in my Ethos Statement.  I'm sure it was
pretty bland, probably stereotypical because I hadn't watched the show in
some time and relied on newsgroup articles to stimulate my memory.  I must
say I honestly did agree with what I had read here.  However, I had not
had time to sort it out, to think about it more carefully.  Perhaps if I
had given myself a couple weeks to think harder, or, better, waited until
the fall so I could take a closer look at B&F first in the light of what I
found on the NG, I could have done a better job.  However, as I recall, I
dashed the thing off between classes and then pretty much forgot about it.
    Obviously, that's not the way to do it.  I know that now, after I've
watched the show too much for my own good, because I see it in a different
light now.  Also, I'm older, more mature (a little, anyway), and I can
write better, too.  So scratch that first Ethos Statement, folks; this is
the real thing.  Comments appreciated.

    Why do I dislike "Barney & Friends?"  After extensive viewing, I've
finally put a name to my personal problem with the show.  What really
disturbs me is the condescension.  To some extent, this is intertwined
with the realism problem, but I feel that, in the end, 'dumbing down' is
behind the latter.  It appears sometimes that the situations that lack
realism (plants growing too rapidly, kids 'cheating' at peanut races, and
so on) are really due to a laziness on the part of the producers, who seem
to think that the easier for kids to understand, the less thought
required, the better.  This is what saddens me about it.  It's not
difficult to make the shows more thought-provoking, so budgeting, for
example, surely cannot be the reason.  I've seen other shows, such as
"Puzzle Place", "Sesame Street", and "Thomas the Tank Engine" that include
reasonable plots and characters with emotion, and these shows, in terms of
theme and audience, are on a par with "Barney."  I think that the
producers of B&F are simply not trying hard enough.
    I read an essay by Isaac Asimov some years ago in which he discussed
his writings for children.  Asimov wrote that he usually tried to
challenge his readers.  As a self-taught writer, he claimed that he didn't
know how to aim at a specific age group (in terms of word length, grammar,
etc. as well as plot and theme).  So when he had a choice between a
simpler and more difficult word or sentence, he chose in favor of
difficulty.  He considered that making a kid think too much was better
that letting him think too little.
    I feel that's the way learning should work.  The avowed theme of
children's TV today is to "stretch the imagination."  How can this be done
without challenging the viewer?  Barney is good in his own way (I admit
freely that he's a great way to quiet a bouncy kid), but his producers are
shirking their responsibility to the public by claiming he's educational.
Barney does teach minor lessons like the ABCs, but these are things that
are taught just as well on other, more challenging programs and even
better at home through a child's everyday experience.  Compared to other
shows, B&F certainly is not a prime candidate for making up part of the
three hours a day of educational programming now mandated for much of
public television.

    Why am I part of the Cause (tm)?  This is a more difficult question
because I can't just restate the above paragraph.  I think I'm here
because this is one thing that I can't leave to solve itself.  Some
menaces we humans tend to do nothing about, largely hoping that they'll
solve themselves (saving the rainforest, for example).  Another reason
most of us avoid doing relatively inexpensive things like Feeding Starving
Children! and Saving The Whales! is because we figure they're being done
by other people already and it's not really such a big deal anyway.
    The Cause (tm), however, while not a "big deal" in the real world, is
not something that many people do do something about.  And it won't solve
itself.  This is why I joined the Jihad; Few people are part of it, so I
feel I -can- make a difference.
    And it's close to home.  This isn't something that's far away in time
or space.  It's in my own house.  It's not happening to people I don't
know or recognize; it's to do with my immediate family.  Fighting "Barney"
is something which I can do directly.  I can see the real-life results of
what I do.  The Cause (tm) is not a "My vote won't count," situation.  I
can personally do something about it.  And I will.

    Why have I joined the Jihad?  Because I can find people here to
discuss my ideas with.  Because I can draw on the experience and ideas of
others.  And I have; What I've read on the newsgroups has helped me
understand and clarify my own ideas about Barney much better than I could
have done alone.  What I've learned as a Jihaddi is what helped me to
write this statement in the first place.  And there I rest.