Paw Patrol is an insanely popular children’s show that follows the adventures of a team of puppy dogs who just happen to talk and operate heavy machinery, under the supervision of a teenage boy named Ryder. Created by Canadian toymaker Spin Master, Paw Patrol is a cartoon, a toy brand, and a merchandising juggernaut, as well as a touring live show. Together, it rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars every year and has been forging a cult-like preschool following for years.
But now a Canadian criminology professor says that it may be programming kids as little capitalists. King’s University College professor Liam Kennedy recently published a research article in the journal Crime Media Culture titled, “‘Whenever there’s trouble. Just yelp for help’: Crime, Conservation, and Corporatization in Paw Patrol.”
Kennedy told CBC that the messages in the show could be problematic. “I’ll start with the depiction of the state. Mayor Humdinger and Mayor Goodway—kind of the representatives of the state or the government—are portrayed negatively,” Kennedy explained. “Mayor Humdinger is portrayed as unethical or corrupt. Mayor Goodway as hysterical, bumbling, incompetent.”
He went on to say that the Paw Patrol itself is a kind of privatized police service, illustrating that the state can’t be depended on to provide these services. “I just think that as time goes on, children might be less likely to critique the capitalist system that causes environmental harm in the first place and reproduces inequality,” he said.
Parents’ reactions were swift, and Paw Patrol was trending on Monday around the CBC story.
My 6 year old cousin watched one episode of paw patrol and now wants to bring back the 16 hour work day https://t.co/xL12kH2pR3
— Misinformed (@Misinformed_YT) February 10, 2020
my kids just watched paw patrol and now they're forming a Republican super PAC
— clammy (@GawdOffalTweets) February 10, 2020
It’s not the first time that the show has been dissected and criticized for its messaging. Back in 2017, CNN reported on why some viewers saw the show as fascist—a puppy mill of social and gender inequality, led by a megalomaniac.
Of course, if you want your kid to learn how to criticize capitalism, tell them that they can’t afford to go to the doctor when they’re sick because you spent $200 on Paw Patrol Live “The Great Pirate Adventure” tickets. Or you could balance it with cartoons such as the Smurfs, Care Bears, and Robin Hood, all of which have been accused of carrying Communist messages.
Kennedy doesn’t let his 2-year-old daughter watch Paw Patrol, but rest assured, she’ll still be mad at him 14 years from now knowing this article even exists.
And whatever you do, don’t let Kennedy know about Boss Baby.