Thursday, April 16, 2009

Who are You Again?

Can you guess who this is?

This is the to-be-launched brand new Dora the Explorer. Tween Dora. Don't remember what Dora looks like? This is an image of the current Dora:


Apparently Nickelodeon and Mattel (they're also releasing an online-interactive tween Dora doll) thought it was a good idea to make the move to have Dora grow up and follow her growing viewers into the pre-teen years*. Apparently this change was announced this April. I believe the show is slated to start this fall, but I haven't been clear on whether New Dora is going to be the death-knell of Dora Classic. I was too old for Dora when she first came out, but since I was in high school, I definitely spent a lot of sick days and summer mornings tuned into Nickelodeon during her time slot. Give me a break-- there is nothing to watch on a weekday morning. Nothing. Anyway, I think this gives me a little bit of an excuse to put my two cents in.

1. Dora is recognizable to so many people, whether they watch the show or not. Why mess with that?

2. Are tweens really going to want to watch Dora, even if she is "grown up?" It's true that kids don't always grow out of cartoons-- I didn't-- but they might not be as interested in Dora running around the mall solving mysteries as you think they will be. I mean, this new series will involve Dora in the big city and starting Middle School, from what I understand, but you still have to consider the connotation of it being a "kiddie show." Is the age-group as a whole going to embrace it or make terrible fun of the ones who do?

3. I read in a magazine that Boots is going bye-bye, and so is backpack. So when you grow up you can't keep your childhood friends? I mean, Boots is a monkey, but he's her friend. And don't you wear a backpack to middle school anyway? Or is that not what the young, hip kids these days are into?

4. I'm disappointed that this Dora is so... pretty. I'm not trying to say that you can't be smart and spunky or a good role-model if you're pretty, but little Dora is not really a stunner. She's made to a look a little chubby, and her clothes are plain and a bit ill-fitting (she's always barin' that midriff). She looks like an average girl, but she's special because she's so curious and bright. I think it's great to see a show aimed at little girls specifically that involves adventuring instead of playing house. Now, though, it seems that growing Dora up calls for her becoming a mini-fashionista and hanging around the mall in search of new jewelry, enjoying how thin and pretty she is. Do we need more of this kind of standard for young girls to live up to and be confined by? I fear that if Dora, this smart, sort of awkward-looking little girl, grows up with her audience into a gorgeous tween who suddenly becomes a lot more superficial, you're sending the wrong message. In a brief article, Jessica Madison says that "fear that there kids will look at how fast Dora grew up and try to mimic the cartoon characters new looks. run the risk of fans believing that this is what growing up is about." I do, too. I think we have enough mindless Bratz in the world to make young girls feel insecure about their appearances and as if being intelligent is not as important as having the shortest skirts and the prettiest hair-do. I may have been too old to have been a Dora fan, but I can recognize the value of her show, and I am deeply disappointed in the message that her developers seem to be promoting.

These articles reflect my opinion and elaborate a bit more on what's going on here.

So what about you? Any thoughts? Do you think that growing-up Dora is a good idea, or should they stick with what the ratings and millions raked in through merchandising have indicated is working just fine? Do you think pre-teens will want to watch this show? Most importantly, do you think a sexier Dora is a bad influence on the young girls who grew up with her? Comment away!

*I have also read a lot of people saying that pre-teen Dora is aimed at kids 5 and up. Kids 5 and up? Aren't they still too young too feel disconnected to the original Dora? I mean, when you're 5, you're not even in grade school.

3 comments:

amanda said...

I'm a bit torn by this. On the one hand, the beauty of Dora was that she was a totally average little girl: her clothes didn't fit right, her hair was a little goofy, and she was borderline obnoxious with all her enthusiastic shouting. There was nothing really wrong with this (except for the shouting. Turn the volume down and say "please" every once in a while), so I don't really see why they needed to change it.

The thing I do take umbrage with is the idea that, because Dora's wearing a shirt that covers her belly and has grown out her hair, she's a completely different person. You can totally do adventures in that outfit. I know tons of girls who would climb trees, scrape their legs, play kickball in skirts and dresses. Girls don't need to dress "like boys" or like an archaeologist to have adventures.
So I'm withholding judgment on whether or not they've ruined Dora until the show comes out. Just because her personal styling has changed (as it does when little girls grow up) doesn't mean she's a totally different person, no longer interested in exploring.

Nice and Shiny said...

This.... is a little wierd. Tween years? Dora came out like, 5 years ago!! Her fans were 5 and now their 10, it just seems really illogical. I don't think any "tweens" will be interested, the JoBro flams is still burning bright...

<3<3<3

saturdayjane said...

Huh. I'm not sure how to feel about this. Like Amanda, I think I'm going to have to reserve judgement until I see the show.

YES I WILL WATCH DORA.

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