Research by the University of Alberta has chillingly revealed that kids' TV show Thomas and Friends may be engendering a "conservative political ideology" in future generations - a repressive mindset which "punishes individual initiative, opposes critique and change, and relegates females to supportive roles".
Shauna Wilton and friends from the uni's Department of Social Sciences analysed 23 episodes of the programme, and noted that while it "conveys a number of positive political values such as tolerance, listening, communicating with others and contributing to the community", there is a dark side to Thomas the Tank Engine.
Wilton claimed that "storylines in several episodes that divided the characters into different social classes and punished those who tried to gain individual power". She said: "Any change is seen as disrupting the natural order of things."
Furthermore, "of 49 main characters listed in the show, only eight were female, reflecting a general trend among children's programming".
Wilton concluded: "We tend to think of children's TV shows as neutral and safe, but they still carry messages. Eventually these children will attain full political citizenship, and the opinions and world outlook they develop now, partially influenced by shows like Thomas and Friends, are part of that process."
Wilton's findings, presented earlier this year to the Canadian Political Science Association, will doubtless add to a growing sense of unease among parents following the news that Disney, among others, punts "strictly heterosexual values" to wide-eyed kiddies.
Those among you with sprogs who wish to raise gay radicals are accordingly advised to avoid animated steam engines and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. ®