Heart of Parkness Review

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Today’s episode of Littlest Pet Shop really doesn’t know how snakes work. Also racist raccoons. Review below the break!

All the pets are here this episode. It’s been raining hard the past few days and the pets go out to the park once the sun comes out. At the same time, a cobra has escaped Largest Ever Pet Shop because the Bizkit twins don’t realize snakes exist. Sunil is separated from the other pets when the reservoir breaks and gets kidnapped by the raccoons that are really bad Native American stereotypes. Crazy Hippie Pigeon is the only one who speaks “English” and tells Sunil about the cobra in the park.

Blythe notices Sunil is missing. The normally anxiety-ridden mongoose fights the cobra, who’s surprised that he isn’t afraid of him. In the wild, mongooses and cobras fight each other, which Sunil is aware of, but the snake isn’t. He chases off the snake and then becomes the white saviour for the wild raccoons, even though he’s blue (and Indian).

The pets and Blythe over hear Mr. Bizkit talk to park rangers about a dangerous pet from India that’s missing. They don’t know about the cobra, but they think that the Bizkits want to steal Sunil and sell him off. He’s safe with the raccoons and being worshipped with foot rubs and palm frond fans (even though this is New York City). Though he wants to go back home, the pigeon tells Sunil that his friends don’t appreciate him as a hero. He still decides that he wants to go home.

Blythe and co. find him, but not before the cobra appears again. Blythe makes Sunil and Steve the Cobra become friends despite their inherent nature to fight (which Steve is aware of now, oddly) and has him scare away the Bizkits; partly it was so Steve didn’t have to go back to the Largest Ever Pet Shop, but also to be mean to the Bizkit twins. Steve then goes to the zoo where he can be treated nicely. The episode closes with the raccoons dancing around an effigy of Sunil.

The elephant in the room is the racism in this episode. Native Americans didn’t wear war paint and feathers every day, as these were ceremonial items and representations of one’s honors and achievements. This happened in My Little Pony with the buffalo as well. In MLP, the setting was “the wild west,” so having “plains Indian” stereotypes such as teepees and fighting cowboys at least made sense if you were only writing natives as a trope, but in LPS the setting was an urban city modeled after NYC, so the native people would have different styles of dress and cultures. Using feather headbands and speaking gibberish to differentiate the “wild” raccoons from the “civilized” pets further compounds the issue. The only person who can understand the raccoon’s language is a hippie/stoner pigeon with wall eyes who has left behind the “inferior” city life to live with “the natives.” He becomes the mouth piece for the raccoons, who are now just a mass of stereotypes instead of individuals.

MLP didn’t have this issue as there was Little Strong Heart and Chief Thunder Hooves, who both had their own opinions, characterizations, motives and goals. There was a mass of background buffallo, but there were just as many with the settler ponies as well. The situation between the “cowboys and Indians” was framed on both sides and a resolution was made that allows both to coexist happily. LPS instead has the raccoons continue worshipping Sunil, which will probably be never addressed again.

This is solely based on lazy writing. We’ve seen “wild” pets/animals before, like the birds in the nest hat episode, but they spoke animal sounds instead of “English” that Blythe and the pets can understand. But the raccoons speak what’s supposed to be a native language. Replacing an actual language with gibberish is insulting, just as much as it is to make a French character only say “Hon hon hon, baguette chateau escargot!” MLP had their scripts checked out by outside parties to make sure that the buffalo were represented in a way that wasn’t offensive, but this didn’t seem to be the case at all with LPS.

Perhaps the raccoons could have been replaced with squirrels, who would logically be afraid of a 12-foot snake, so they worship Sunil as their defender, as he’s “big” and isn’t afraid of the cobra. The pigeon would now be unnecessary, as we already know squirrels can speak “English.” The squirrels guilt Sunil into staying in case the cobra comes back, and then he can leave once Steve goes to the zoo. But instead the white savior trope is used and the raccoons are made into Native American stereotypes to show that they’re “wild” and “different.”

I’m really dissapointed in this episode. DhX can do better than this, but a case of lazy writing has further pushed negative ideas about Native Americans, which is completely unnecessary in 2013.

 

  • StatManDan

    Did you ever see Recess and how the kindergarteners were depicted as a tribe? Would that be any different than here?

    • The kindergartners used various “wildman” stereotypes, but they were still able to speak English (though broken little kid English). It’s still racist to say that by wearing war paint and feathers that you are more viscous or that you are stupid. Oddly, Ms. Grotke was really feminist and forward-thinking and the cast was pretty diverse, so it’s odd that the show would still do something as dumb as using racist tropes.

  • Ponichaeism

    “The pigeon would now be unnecessary”

    You don’t cut the photojournalist out of an Apocalypse Now parody. It’s just not the kind of thing that’s done. In fact, his drug-induced rambling is so iconic that as soon as you decide to homage Kurtz’s compound, the first thing you do is ask yourself, ‘How do I work stoned Dennis Hopper in there?’

    “But instead the white savior trope is used and the raccoons are made into Native American stereotypes to show that they’re ‘wild’ and ‘different.'”

    They’re not Native Americans, they’re Montagnard hill people. And this is a 22-minute children’s sitcom. It can’t deconstruct the white savior trope like a two-and-a-half hour hard R-rated movie can. Some elements of the parody naturally have to remain in the background, untouched.