As you may know, there are those out there who attempt to influence the content of childrens' television. We call them "parents groups," although many are not comprised of parents, or at least not of folks whose primary interest is as parents. Study them and you'll find a wide array of agendum at work...and I suspect that, in some cases, their stated goals are far from their real goals.
Nevertheless, they all seek to make kidvid more enriching and redeeming, at least by their definitions, and at the time, they had enough clout to cause the networks to yield. Consultants were brought in and we, the folks who were writing cartoons, were ordered to include certain "pro-social" morals in our shows. At the time, the dominant "pro-social" moral was as follows: The group is always right...the complainer is always wrong.
This was the message of way too many eighties' cartoon shows. If all your friends want to go get pizza and you want a burger, you should bow to the will of the majority and go get pizza with them. There was even a show for one season on CBS called The Get-Along Gang, which was dedicated unabashedly to this principle. Each week, whichever member of the gang didn't get along with the gang learned the error of his or her ways.
That's just... I don't even... what?
I assume that this valuable social message also extends to your mother's favorite line about everyone else jumping off a bridge.
So in the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, for some weird reason they were forced to keep contriving situations for Eric, the whiny cavalier, to complain about what the rest of the group was doing... so that they could promote the message by ultimately making him look dumb or suffer in some way.
I recently read (most of) David Sirota's latest book, Back to our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now--Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything. I enjoyed it, but at the same time, I found it a little excessively paranoid. Sirota's thesis is that the movies, shows, and all other entertainment that we consumed as kids in the Reagan era was all part of an overarching propaganda machine, pushing various right wing values like nationalism, consumerism, and the notion that all government is part of an evil conspiracy. In some cases I saw his point, and in others I just felt like it was a big Rorschach test where Sirota was superimposing his framework on everything he could find.
Anyway, I can't make heads or tails of this "the group is always right" thing, which is one case where there seems to have been an actual conspiracy by a specific group of individuals openly trying to give all shows a consistent message.
On a side note, blogger.com told me today that I should try switching my blog over to their nifty new customizable display format. So I did, because the group is always right and I don't want to be a complainer.
I haven't spent enough time browsing it to decide if I hate it. But if you hate it, feel free to let me know.