Could there be a day when Christian children shows are addressing LGBT issues like their secular counterparts? “Veggie Tales” co-creator Phil Vischer says that day is “inevitable.”
Speaking with The Christian Post, Vischer said parents need to grapple with the fact that LGBT characters will be a prevalent part of children’s programming going forward – as seen in shows like “Rocko’s Modern Life” and “Arthur” – because society has determined that moral reservations on certain sexual identities are akin to racial discrimination.
“Parents are definitely going to have to deal with a growing LGBT presence in children’s media,” said Vischer. “It’s going to show up more and more as the world has decided that LGBT issues are in the same categories as race and civil rights issues. So to say you shouldn’t have a same-sex couple on ‘Sesame Street’ is the equivalent of saying you shouldn’t have a black couple on ‘Sesame Street.'”
Vischer noted that when “Arthur” broke barriers by featuring a same-sex wedding on the show, the creators were very careful to make the children characters automatically accepting of the situation, with nary a question asked. “Rocko’s Modern Life” employed the same tactic in its presentation of a transgender story arc for one of the characters.
“The most striking thing about that episode of Arthur wasn’t that they thought it was time to introduce kids to gay marriage; it was the reaction of all the kids on the show,” he said. “None of them asked questions about why two men were getting married. Their reaction was, ‘Oh, OK! Great!'”
“It’s such a strong message of, well kids, of course you’re fine with gay marriage, because there’s nothing to question about it,” he continued. “That’s a little more concerning.”
Vischer understands that Christian shows such as “Veggie Tales” are going to have to tackle the subject, though he admits it will be difficult, considering that LGBT matters carry so much nuance.
“I think it will have to be addressed at some point; I do think it’s a matter of time,” he said. “But right now, I think it would be difficult for a couple of reasons. First: the nuance of how to treat LGBT issues isn’t agreed upon within the Church; and secondly, some parents may want to have that talk with their kids. It’s tricky because it’s so divisive. It would be hard to do it in a way that works and matches everyone’s expectations. It would be easy to do it poorly. It’s still so controversial; I’m not sure what I would add that would be helpful enough in the conversation that it’s worth the number of people I could offend.”
Vischer made clear that he would not give into pressure to promote the LGBT agenda on marriage to kids in his productions. “If I get pressure from Hollywood to show two men getting married because we’ve all decided it’s right and correct, my pushback is: ‘No, I won’t. Because that’s not what I believe is best for kids.’ It’s more about what we show as normal rather than explicitly showing something and saying, ‘that’s wrong.’ I’m portraying the positive rather than the negative.”
Currently owned by NBC Universal, “Veggie Tales” has become one of the most successful Christian children’s shows of all time, spanning nearly three decades with multiple books, movies, and TV shows. Despite that, Vischer expressed disappointment that nothing else rose up in the wake of “Veggie Tales” to compete with secular culture. “The fact that 26 years later, ‘Veggie Tales’ is still the crowning achievement of Christian kids media isn’t necessarily a good thing,” he said.