Children's franchises like to put up a front that's all lollipops and rainbows, but scratch the surface and you find that those lollipops are produced by child slave labor, while all those rainbows are the offal resulting from a mass unicorn slaughter. All it takes is to look at these stories and characters through the cold, analytical eye of an adult with an enormous amount of spare time on his hands.
#5. The Care Bears Are a Cult of Mind Rapists
The Care Bears are definitive proof that the writers of '80s kids' shows were still stoned from the '60s and '70s. This 32-year-old franchise, originally developed for greeting cards, features messages about caring and love set against diabetic backdrops and contrasted with pants-shittingly terrifying villains. As with Dora the Explorer, the audience was frequently encouraged to interact with the screen, except that instead of solving puzzles, they were supposed to think positive thoughts at the TV. In the second feature-length movie, there was even a scene in which the audience beamed happy thoughts at the screen to help bring a dead character back to life. You know, just your standard '80s little girl cartoon slash necromancy primer.
Like most possessed children's toys, the Care Bears were on a mission: to ensure that children everywhere were developing into productive and happy members of society ... with specific emphasis on the "happy." Whenever a child was unhappy, misbehaving, or developing a bad habit, the Caring Meter alerted the bears, who would wait until the brat was alone and then magically appear to correct the error of her ways with a lecture and an unsatisfyingly maul-free bear hug.
"Which one of you fucking turds is sad?!"
First off, the Care Bears are surveying everything every single kid does, 24 hours a day. Look, we know it's the 21st century and we all traded away our personal privacy years ago, but unlike Facebook and its innocent goal of exposing your scat clown fetish to the world for the sake of a few advertising cents, the Care Bears want to forcibly mold your psyche to match their preconceived notions of how you should feel. And you have precisely zero personal choice in the matter. They're like Fuzzy Wuzzy, if instead of a bear Fuzzy Wuzzy was the Thought Police.
Nobody ever questions the Care Bears' authority to decide how individuals should feel or behave. And considering that the Care Bears alter not only bad habits, but also feelings that they consider bad, like sadness and worry -- otherwise known as essential elements of the human experience that help us grow as people -- the whole concept starts looking downright sinister.
"Everything you know is a lie. Join us ... join us ... join uussssss."
The strongest tool in their brainwashing arsenal is the Care Bear Stare, otherwise known as the "We can't call it mind rape because this is a kids' show." Whenever the Care Bears want something badly enough or don't approve of another person's attitude, they force complacency by shooting rainbows and sunshine out of their asses -- er, tummies, sorry -- and flooding the person's mind with love and happy thoughts. Sometimes it's justified, because the bad guys must be stopped (like with the scary uber-villains in the original series), but other times the bears' victims are just being grumpy or expressing their right to dissent. For example, here's a clip from the latest generation, in which the Care Bears use the Stare on a woman who chose to close her store too early:
There are exactly four villains in that clip, and the grumpy star-headed lady ain't one of them. The bears hardly even bothered to negotiate with her; they just skipped straight to the mind rape. If they decide you need a personality adjustment, they'll obviously think nothing of forcibly overpowering your free will to give you one. The whole thing is eerily similar to the cult practice of love bombing.
In fact, on closer inspection, everything about the Care Bears starts looking a whole lot more cult-like. The entire concept -- constantly monitoring the Earth's children and occasionally choosing the perfect one to love bomb until the kid loves them and agrees with everything they say -- works exactly the same way as cult indoctrination. All we can say is if a brightly colored bear with an abdominal tattoo ever offers you Kool-Aid, don't drink it.
"Please, just take my money! You can have anything you want!"
#4. Ariel from The Little Mermaid Permits the Ongoing Massacre of Her Subjects
The Little Mermaid is easily one of Disney's least controversial offerings. Sure, there's a potentially racist stereotype for a loveable sidekick, and Ariel's in for one terrifying wedding night when she realizes that Prince Eric isn't planning to fertilize her eggs externally, but all in all, this beloved tale is a relatively tame affair.
"Look at all that dick!"
That is, until you take a closer look at exactly why, according to the fishies, everything's better down where it's wetter ...
Under the sea, all the fish and crustaceans talk, have developed a highly complex civilization, and are afforded civil rights. Sure, they don't have quite the social status of the merpeople (they tend to fill the servant positions), but they aren't slaves or food. They're people. Now, you might think that we're going to talk about how horrifying it is that the humans in the movie eat these creatures ...
Cooking is hilarious!
... but how the hell were they supposed to know? They didn't know their dinner was performing a lavish musical number just hours before they threw it into a pot of boiling water. But you know who should have said something? Freaking Ariel.
Think about it -- she's known her whole life that the humans are massacring her father's subjects, but she still idolizes them. The first time she meets love interest Eric, he's out fishing, yet she's still all "Gosh, that guy who's trying to kill and eat everyone I know sure makes my urogenital tract feel tingly." She's like some kind of genocide groupie.
"The rot of a thousand of my kin taints this vessel."
But maybe that's all OK because, after all, it's supposed to be a story about how love conquers all. Once Ariel marries Eric, perhaps she uses her queenly clout and powers of political persuasion ("queenly clout" and "political persuasion" being her nicknames for what she's packing under those purple seashells) to convince him to stop murdering her friends and subjects.
Nope. In the sequel, land dwellers still hork down as much fish as they can jam in their gullets, and the French chef stereotype is still hard at work trying to serve up one of Ariel's best friends. He's even still employed by the castle, and there's a scene in which he tries his damnedest to brutally slaughter Sebastian while all the aristocrats laugh and laugh.
"Look at the funny little murderer, everyone! How droll!"
#3. Old Trains in Thomas & Friends Are Slowly Dismembered
Thomas & Friends, the wholesome book and television series about living trains, has been giving 4-year-old boys toygasms for better than half a century. Well, as we've mentioned before, not all is as it seems on the Island of Sodor: Thomas and the other trains exist in an odd master-slave state overseen by the iron fist of a top-hatted fat man. But when you look beyond the trains' toil-filled lives and start to think about what comes next, it begs yet another question:
Just what happens to a sentient train once it's outlived its usefulness? It's not a rhetorical question -- the books share the horrible truth with us.
"Mommy, please don't make me watch Thomas & Friends anymore! I swear I'll be good!"
Sorry to break the news to you, kiddos, but even on the whimsical Island of Sodor, there's no such thing as choo-choo heaven. As seen in Stepney the "Bluebell" Engine, when a train in the Thomas universe gets old and worn out, it goes here:
In Tim Burton's darkest nightmares.
That's the scrapyard, and as you can probably guess by the looks of utter dismay on those trains' faces (and also the fact that there's a dude getting ready to blowtorch one of them), the scrapyard is not a very pleasant place for a train to be. In fact, it's precisely what it sounds like: a place where the best the trains can hope for is to ever so slowly rust away, while the worst they can hope for is to have all of their still-useful parts gradually cannibalized so that other trains may live a bit longer.
As someone who knows far more about trains than we ever care to noted, the train on the right in the picture above "seems to be a LNWR 0-8-2 tank engine with its trailing wheels, bunker, and back end of its cab already cut off." We wonder, does a conscious train feel pain when you cut the back end of its cab off? So yeah, sending a train to the scrapyard is basically equivalent to sending Grandma away to the Meadow Springs Retirement Village and Organ Harvesting Clinic. And while that's disturbing enough on its own, where this railroad really takes a switch toward Nightmareville is when you squint a little closer at the background of that picture:
We resisted the urge to Photoshop a geyser of blood shooting out of that thing.
Not only has that locomotive been stripped down to a ravaged shell of its former self, but they've also taken its face. Just how does one recycle a train face, anyway? Do you simply slap it onto a new model as it rolls off the assembly line? And if so, is it like a reincarnation type deal, or are we talking more of a Gein-esque situation?
Have fun pondering that one the next time you spy a toddler playing with a Thomas the Tank Engine toy.
Look at that soulless bastard on the right. That's not a scrapyard; it's train hell.