I’m not sure if the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has suddenly been re-staffed by a bunch of hipsters or something, but keen internet observers may have noticed over the past few weeks a series of new videos that… ahem… re-examine some old television favorites.
Have you ever wondered what a Julia Child demo track might sound like or what kind of tunes could be spun from Bob Ross’s “happy little clouds”? Well, my friends feast your ears upon these:
Warning: watching all three may cause uncontrolled nostalgia and a desire to contribute to a local broadcasting system supported by “viewers like you.”
Watching these videos reminded me of exactly how large a role PBS played for me when I was a kid. My family eventually did get cable, but for a long time we only had whatever we could pick up with a pair of bunny ears. This meant that a lot of the television I watched as a kid was publically-funded and produced largely through government grants and private donations.
For a while now, I’ve mocked the Republican talking points about how Democrats want support for programs like PBS because it’s part of a plan to indoctrinate young people into a more left-leaning school of thought. The thing is I’m not so sure that the GOP isn’t completely off track; they just seem to have missed a really critical step. Watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood didn’t turn a young Clovis into a liberal, but it did encourage me to use my imagination, to explore the world around me and to not be so afraid of people or information that was new or different that I wouldn’t go looking for it in the first place.
The only ideology that public broadcasting promotes is a deeper understanding of the world through learning about new things. If it just so happens that learning about new perspectives and gathering new information about the universe causes young people to question things more directly, which in turn may lead to an examination of their political beliefs, well perhaps the political parties that seek to defund those structures should engage in those same acts themselves to understand why that happens.
Meanwhile, the Summer of Nostalgia races toward a close, but not before we all get the chance to see Julia Child’s dance mix on the virtues of roasted potatoes. We all win.