28 Jun 2011

Thomas, Bourgeois Hero

Children's Literature, Shameless Self-Promotion 6 Comments

Today at Mises I have an article talking about Thomas the Tank Engine:

Even Thomas himself has flaws. Sometimes he argues and even gets haughty with the other engines, overreacting to slight transgressions. (For a while my son — echoing Thomas — would announce that he was “very cross” with us when he didn’t get his way.)

The reason Thomas is the hero of the show isn’t his strength (Hiro is stronger) or his speed (Spencer is faster). Rather, Thomas’s one superlative trait is that he’s a “Very Useful” engine. More so than any others, Thomas is the goodie-two-wheels who always tries to do a good job and follow Sir Topham Hatt’s instructions. (Thomas’s other endearing quality is that his favorite job is to carry around children.)

6 Responses to “Thomas, Bourgeois Hero”

  1. Gene Callahan says:

    “Originally conceived by Reverend Awdry, Vicar of Emneth, the world of Thomas & Friends is an unabashed celebration of the bourgeois, industrial value system.”

    Which, thank God, replaced that durned Christian value system of the Middle Ages.

    • bobmurphy says:

      It’s a good thing I’m too busy working to unleash my justified wrath at your sarcasm.

    • Mattheus von Guttenberg says:

      I personally prefer a value system that rewards production and innovation, than one that rewards adherence to a certain theological perspective of the world – wouldn’t you?

  2. Tel says:

    I’ve always thought there was something quintessentially working class about Ringo Starr’s voice overs. I’m told that you Americans believe any British accent to be educated and classy, but for the rest of the English speaking world, the Liverpudlian accent is associated with iron works, coal mines, heavy industry and unionism (and sometimes skinheads, and unemployment).

    The socialist unionists that Thatcher hammered down, decided to emigrate to Australia and now they are running our country! 🙂

    • Joseph Fetz says:

      It is kind of odd that you mention that, Tel. I remember being at a pub in Dubai and striking a conversation with an older woman at the bar. I remember thinking that she was British because she had a “very proper way of speaking English”. Well, it turns out that she was Australian, and began to elaborate upon the faults and idiosyncrasies of the British vernacular (she was quite insulted that I thought that she was British). Suffice it to say, I can now tell the difference between an Australian and British accent without much trouble at all.

      By the way, I did spend about 2 weeks in Sydney and made the horrible mistake of setting up my hotel in Kings Cross; nothing like heroin addicts, hookers and strip clubs to keep you occupied. Though, I did see an aborigine performing as a one man band (drums, guitar, tambourine, keyboard, etc) performing at the Soho on Victoria St. After that they played more AC/DC than I have ever heard in my life. Then we got pot-pies from a famous truck in Woolloomooloo. I’ve also been to Perth (about a week), but that is more of a rural country, nothing to do but drink and have sex. Fun times. For some reason, the girls in Perth love American men.

  3. Dave B says:

    That was a fun article Bob. My son has been into Thomas the Train a lot so this hits home with me. Always on repeat… Anyways, I really enjoy your work and analysis.