Shezow! has an agenda?
Shezow is an Australian-Canadian cartoon created by Obie Scott Wade that was recently picked up by the Hasbro network The Hub; home to popular Hasbro cartoons such as Transformers Prime and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. This rather unremarkable show managed to spark some controversy with its premise of a 12 year old boy inheriting a magic ring that turns him into a superhero, except the ring is meant for a girl so it changes him accordingly.
As I said this has caused some controversy, kind of. It’s obvious why that is since the premise is about a boy dressing as a girl and it’s for children. That is understandable since what is and isn’t suitable for children is a debatable matter. However the controversy isn’t really much of one since it’s only really one website saying how horrible it is, well the only one getting quoted by every other site that is.
Breitbart was that site and loathed that I am to give them extra traffic here’s the full quote:
“Nothing says “child-appropriate material” quite like gender-bending underage superheroes. At least that’s the theory over at the Hub, the network co-owned by Discovery and Hasbro, which is trotting out its latest soon-to-be-dud, SheZow.
“The chief executive of the Hub, who may or may not have been high (and leftist) when she greenlit this project, is Margaret Loesch. Loesch commented, “When I first heard about the show, my reaction was ‘Are you out of your minds?’ Then I looked at it and I thought, ‘This is just funny.’”
“The target audience for the Hub is children aged two to eleven.”
That’s the entire article, minus a short description of the show, and those two paragraphs somehow managed to spark at least a dozen news articles about it and a response from a GLAAD spokesperson. Most of them were exactly the same, and can be found with a Google search. That seems a little too much for a few paragraphs on a silly news site, and nothing says “responsible journalism” like insinuating the person behind this is on drugs.
But there was also a bit more in a few other places, including Twitter, and Al Jazeera English has a run down of a few of those. Yes the news story even made it to Al Jazeera somehow. The main argument against the show is that it’s a “liberal agenda” which is so absurd it makes it sound like liberals are an Illuminati group bent on the “corruption of our youth.” If that were true I’m sure Disney would have already made several homosexual cartoons characters for their “agenda” but alas that has not happened.
Many defenders of the show have pointed out that cross-dressing is not a new thing for children’s media, or comedy in general. Bugs Bunny being the chief example because of his many cross-dressing antics. For children it is a harmless bit of dress up and is funny in an innocent sort of way. My main example is the Pantomime which usually features a Dame which is a middle-aged man cross-dressing as the maternal figure for the protagonist. I’ve also seen several panto’s where the protagonist and the lover interest were both played by women. None of which has damaged the culture of Britain and made all the children into cross-dressers in the centuries Pantomime has been around. Pantomime being a lot more popular and a lot more lucrative than Shezow will ever be.
What is this “agenda” anyway? Well it might be “The extinction of male heterosexuals” which is beyond absurd, especially since you can like cross-dressing and still be interested in girls. Not to mention it’s a tall order for a show like this, which some of the people against it are suggesting is only been made to boost the network’s ratings. So they admit it’s not going to be seen by the vast majority of children in America. There’s also that it’s “promoting deviant sexual behaviour to children” which again is no more “promoting” it than Bugs Bunny or the panto. Also cross-dressing is not inherently sexual, it can be but it can also be done for comedic purposes.
What this boils down to is sexuality not being allowed for children’s media. That is entirely hypocritical since it’s not sexuality itself that get’s people outraged but non-heterosexuality. They are fine with kids seeing sexuality so long as it’s a man and a woman doing it. Anything beyond that would be too “damaging” to see, like a man doing the exact same things he’d do to a woman but with a man in these cartoons. Like holding hands.
But is the show worth all this discussion, does it have this hidden agenda? Quite frankly, no it does not. Having watched the first few episodes I can say that there is no agenda or hidden meaning to any of this. Nothing for people to get outraged over. It doesn’t promote the cross-dressing lifestyle nor is it a first step into getting more LGBT friendly programming onto children’s television. It’s just a show with a gimmick and many, many, bad puns.
Guy, the main character because the show is incredibly transparent with its tropes, get’s his aunt’s magic ring accidentally and changes into Shezow by saying “you go girl.” He doesn’t change gender, he just get’s put into a female superhero costume and it isn’t made into a big deal. It isn’t made into a joke that he has to run around in a skirt and it’s mainly treated as if the costume’s gender didn’t really apply. While everything Shezow related is stereotypically “girly-girl” including lipstick lightsabres, pink everywhere, beauty products as weapons, and loosing power if Shezow’s hair is messed up, all the other female characters aren’t treated as stereotypes. There’s not even a love interest so they can have wacky hijinks over it. So none of that’s really a problem.
What is a problem is the animation being extremely cheap and terrible. The puns, the horrible puns. Most of which are adding “she” to things Shezow can do. He can sense danger, which is called “She-S-P,” he has a car called the “She-hicle” that can turn into a submersible called the “SS She Shell.” Then there’s adding “she” to words like “She-mergancy” and “she-rrific.” Also his belt is called the “Beauti-lity Belt.” Half of the show is awful puns using the same punch line. They’re just so forced and weak that it becomes downright painful at times to hear them. The non-pun comedy is alright if very predictable at times. Though Guy’s dad, a cop who hates Shezow, does start calling “her” “Shecow” at times, which is more problematic. Having a supporting cast member calling a woman he hates a “cow” is probably the only disgusting thing on the show. It’s not really an outstanding show on any level and certainly has no horrible message to push.
The online fandom for it has, however, already gone into being incredibly creepy and horrible territory. Just be careful if you Google this series as there are some very NSFW images you could find. I’m surprised they weren’t apart of the “corrupting the youth” arguments since it supports them more than using terms like “transsexual” to describe the show or calling the network executive a drug user.
When all’s said and done this show will probably get some more views thanks to the publicity all these silly outrage articles have created, but it’s not that going to last more than a season. Given better animation and some decent writers it could give the comedy more polish and have it be more memorable. It’s just another forgettable comedy show and certainly not worthy of getting all this attention. There’s only one thing worth getting outraged over is that this is the only cartoon there’s been for quite a while about a Superheroine. Sad fact is, is that the only show about a female superhero is one where there’s a male playing “her.” Wonder Woman can’t even get a live-action series let alone a cartoon, but the character would have better luck if she were a guy. Now that is truly outrageous.
I suppose that’s the only real thing that bothers me about this show. Probably because I was reminded that I’ve watched a lot worse when I was a kid, like MC Hammer’s cartoon ‘Hammerman’ and it was more awful than you could imagine. Stupid comedies will always exist and kids will watch them. We shouldn’t be debating what is or isn’t appropriate and instead be pushing for better quality entertainment. Bad quality, no matter the “agenda” is does or doesn’t have, is going to be more damaging than something that is well put together and well thought out.
All that being said Shezow is probably better than Equestria Girls, the next Hasbro big thing. I’m not quite sure what that says about either series or Hasbro itself. Nothing good I’d wager.