Thursday, April 9, 2009

Condoning the Copycat

Normally, I find Ni Hao Kailan to be a cute little cartoon show. Every episode has a theme and one theme song that is sung over an over again throughout (brainwashing the message into the viewers mind.) Well, this morning, I was letting my daughter watch TV as I shot off a few emails, and I couldn't help but listen to the theme song of today's show.

"If you make something special, *cute little music*
and your friend copies yoooou *cute little music*
It's just because your friend
loved it toooooooooo!!"

Does anyone else find this troubling? That an entire episode of a show, aimed at extremely impressionable preschoolers, centered around the notion that it is okay if your friends copy you, because it just means that they really liked it?

Kay, to me, that's not cool. Maybe I'm overly sensitive because I was always a very creative child and other kids ALWAYS copied me. I mean, I guess it's a reality of life that creative children need to know how to deal with, but still. Somehow this felt like it was passing along an okay to the copiers, almost encouraging copying. What's this world coming too?!

*takes a breath* Okay, rant over. Carry on with your blogging.


Miriam S.Forster said...

Ooo, tough one. On the one hand, it would be nice if kids weren't so defensive about what they think up. "You can't do that, I did it first!" "Quit copying me!"

On the other hand, it's good to encourage every kid to be creative, as opposed to just copying what other people do. (A tendency that can get you in Serious Trouble as a teen.)

Hmm... On second thought, I'm with you. Poorly presented message.

Renee Collins said...

You said it best: poor presentation. It was even worse if you had seen the episode.

I definitely see it is importance of teaching kids how to deal with copycats, because that is a part of life.

But, the episode was practically encouraging copying. The one character who was mad at the copycat, in the end, helped fix the copycat's picture so that it looked exactly like his. I mean, what's up with that?

Natalie said...

Yeah, uh, I've never been a fan of people copying me. Maybe it's because I'm the oldest, but I had my siblings copying me half my life. I hated how my sister had to have the same shirt as me...or the same Halloween costume.

I think that's the kind of copying that you need to brush off. But "creative" copying, not something to just give an okay to. Definitely poorly presented.

Joanne said...

To a certain extent, I can see emulating someone's style, but would add that the individual should always give her own flair, too. I guess the problem here would be where do you draw the line on copying? How far can you take it, down how many avenues?

JaneyV said...

Ooooh it sounds to me like that show just didn't think the message through. I understand what they're saying - "don't get worked up about it - imitation is a form of flattery." But what they are not saying is that it is NOT OK to copy someone and pass the idea off as your own. I work with 4 and 5 year olds and I am constantly encouraging the kids to think for themselves and come up with their own ideas but there are a few kids that cannot do it. It's like they are incapable of original thought. These are bright kids too but they consistently copy the answers of others. I used to find it frustrating until I realised that was how they learned - through mimicking others' ideas. It's like they are using them as examples. Generally speaking by the end of the lesson (if I've gauged it properly)- even these kids will be able to widen their imagination to come up with their own idea. But I stress that this is only OK because I call them on the fact that the idea was someone else's and we talk about why it was good/right and we talk about expanding the idea. I would never let them take credit for another's work.

Having an imaginative kid present during a group activity benefits the group enormously. If handled correctly by the teacher or teaching assistant that child should feel great about helping his/her buddies. If s/he feels her thoughts have been hijacked, everyone loses out.

Lady Glamis said...

I have issues with it too, but at the same time I copy things all the time. Did I just admit that? Crap. Probably because I feel inclined to copy. People copy me all the time. Okay, this is a RANT that needs to go on the you-know-what thing we were talking about the other day. Get on chat so we can chat. :D

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it should not suprise you to know that my son was also watching this show this morning. Apparently it's not enough that we are personally twins. Our lives and children have to do the same things too. I just have one question...Who was first and who is the copycat? I'm sure I'm older. Are you copying me? LOL!

Seriously, I agree with your rant. I also agree with the other comments on the context of the copying. The moral of the story is, it's important to pay attention to the lessons your children are learning and not assume that because it's on Disney or Noggin that it's a good one.

sraasch said...

There's always a fine line, isn't there? On the one hand, copying is a "form of flattery"; on the other, PLAGIARISM. In my head it's always plagiarism, but still. Presenting that topic to kids is dangerous. Couldn't they have clarified? "But you should try to come up with something of your own *cute music*"

Tough world.

Kasie West said...

LOL I think as writers we are extra sensitive to anyone suggesting that copying is okay. You were right to be worried. Now I'm worried. :)

Renee Collins said...

Natalie-Definitely. Creative copying is the problem. And that's exactly the kind this episode was dealing with. That's probably why it struck close to home.

Joanne-Yeah, there is a big gray area here. I think that's why it struck me as troubling for a kid show to try and solve the problem with a big, sweeping "It's okay."

Janey-Very interesting insight! (As usual :) ) I agree that copying is totally the norm with kids. Totally. But we really need to emphasize, as you do with your students, that kids need to try and be creative and use their imaginations instead of just copying something they like. Great point.

Michelle-:) Hey, we all copy to some extent. It's unavoidable.

Candice-*hangs head* I admit to copying you. But, you are just so awesome, I couldn't help it.

Sara-LOL, I love your added line to the song! They seriously should have had some kind of message like that laced in. I was waiting for it. But, they didn't.

Kasie-It's true, as a writer/creative person, I am sensitive to copying. Maybe too much so :)

Terri Tiffany said...

I get you. I would want my child to be creative and do her own thing more than know it's ok to copy and be lazy.

jessie said...

Hey, whatever happen to everyone is special because they are different? Yes, I too find that disturbing.