Are SpongeBob SquarePants, Walt Disney, the Teletubbies, Shrek, and the town of South Park, Colorado, banding together to corrupt the youth of the Ukraine? That’s what Ukraine’s National Expert Commission for Protecting Public Morality is now investigating. According to the Wall Street Journal, a “fringe Catholic website” called Family Under the Protection of the Holy Virgin, “these and several other children’s shows are ‘a large-scale experiment on Ukrainian children’ to ‘create criminals and perverts,’ and should be banned.”
The National Expert Commission for Protecting Public Morality is “a state body that evaluates media to check they observe Ukrainian morality laws, which ban inciting religious hatred, producing or disseminating pornography, and propagating alcoholism and smoking, among other things,” and while it is “not clear when it will meet to discuss the report,” it is not the first time the commission has targeted animated fare for censorship, as it has previously attempted to have The Simpsons banned from Ukrainian airwaves.
According to Eric Pfeiffer at Yahoo! News, the targeted programs and rationale this time around include:
SpongeBob Squarepants: “gay”
Teletubbies: “Deliberately aims to create subnormal (men), who spend all day in front of the television with their mouths open swallowing all types of information,” and promotes the “psychology of losers.”
Shrek: “containing sadism”
South Park: “reincarnation propaganda”
Japanese Anime: “A clear example of sexist propaganda
The study concluded that the programming represents “a large-scale experiment on Ukrainian children” to “create criminals and perverts.”
As disturbing as the drive to censor these programs is the automatic assumption that anything animated is strictly children’s programming. While SpongeBob, Teletubbies, and even Shrek are intended for a young audience, South Park and large swaths of Japanese anime are intended for adults. For the group the Wall Street Journal has mockingly called the Ukrainian “Morality Police,” however, anything animated is apparently targeted solely at children, recalling the same justifications that are still used today in attempts to censor comics.
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Mark Bousquet is the Assistant Director of Core Writing at the University of Nevada, Reno, and reviews movies and television programs at Atomic Anxiety.