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November 27, 2012 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Swiper no Swiping!: The Demonology of Dora the Explorer
posted by ursus_comiter (57 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh mannn...
posted by Artw at 9:45 AM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Excellent. Having a toddler myself, I'm looking forward to his examination of Fireman Sam's home of Pontypandy as Limbo. Fireman Sam, though being the Hero Next Door, is damned in the life hereafter for having a child out of wedlock (Norman Price, the only other redhead in town). Thus he is trapped in the ghost town of Pontypandy, doomed to the Sisyphean task of saving the same five people from not actual danger again and again for eternity.

Eventually, Sam will realize he is dead, that the Pontypandy he lives in now is not what he knew (the Pontypandy of life was stop motion animated). He will then board the boat belonging to the brother (a fisherman, nudge nudge) that he never had in life and sail out into the sea, his soul washed clean.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:48 AM on November 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


Somewhat related: Live-action Dora the Explorer as a Tomb Raider pastiche
posted by zombieflanders at 9:51 AM on November 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


IIRC There was a Christmas special where Dora travelled to the future or something to get Swiper off Santa's naughty list and discovers future swiper in a castle full of the crap he's stolen over the years, sad because his compulsive hoarding behaviour has bought him no happiness.
posted by Artw at 9:54 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The article used the word "undoable", which I'm used to see used as un-doable, but which they used as undo-able, which means something very different.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:01 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


It seems most children view Swiper more as an ambivalent, even friendly figure, rather than a menacing one, such as the Smurfs’ Gargamel or Inspector Gadget’s Dr. Claw.

Gargamel, yes. But Dr Claw, non-menacing or even friendly?? He's got a literal devil voice (just a sec...yep, went down to check, Beelzebub himself growls like that) and you only ever see the claw. His henchmen and henchcat are sympathetic, but I don't think Claw himself is much.

I did not realize until now my strong feelings on Dr Claw. Although I did always want a final episode that revealed him to be Chief Quimby.
posted by DU at 10:02 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I rather liked the original Fireman Sam series; the CGI ones are crap.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:02 AM on November 27, 2012


DU, I think what that sentence is saying is that Gargamel and Dr. Claw are the menacing figures. It's definitely not written clearly.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:03 AM on November 27, 2012


How realistic is the Fireman Sam series? Like, would a town that's really that small actually have a fire fighting force with such seemingly advanced and expensive equipment? I'm wondering if things are different in the UK, a town that small in the US would not. (yes, I know it's not meant to be a documentary)
posted by Blake at 10:06 AM on November 27, 2012


a nun who loses the key to the church and, after looking all over for it, goes to Abbess Leoba to confess her negligence. The abbess, however, is convinced that the sister is not to blame: it is the work of the devil. So, she and the other nuns set themselves to reciting Matins and Lauds and gave themselves to prayer in order to defeat the swiper-demon through the power of God. While they were praying, they heard a sound at the door of the church, where was discovered a dead fox with the missing keys in his mouth. The abbess identified this fox as the “old enemy” himself, Satan, who transformed into a fox but was defeated by prayer.

To be honest, this makes very little sense to me; this is magical thinking at its worst. OBVIOUSLY Satan just found a fox-corpse somewhere in hell (which is likely full of them, because foxes are so badass), and put the keys in the fox's mouth. Why return the keys? For the same reason Satan stole the keys in the first place: he enjoys fuckin' with nuns.

The very IDEA that a bunch of prayers could change the Adversary Of God into a cute little dead fox is, I'm afraid, laughable on its face. Occam's Razor, anyone? Obviously the dead fox and the (live/undead/unkillable) Satan are two separate entities here.

Anyway, in conclusion, Swiper is pretty cool, and I like his neat mask thing; Hail Satan and blessed be.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


A well-meaning person got my kids a Dora book, my 4 year old son is completely enraptured. He hasn't seen the cartoon yet (and hopefully never will). Just reading the book to him I feel my IQ lowering.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing about the rule of threes in Dora that has always struck me:

Dora has to tell Swiper "No Swiping!" three times because the children in the audience also have to be told three times before they'll do anything you say.

And Dora and Boots have to constantly repeat the three steps to follow to achieve their goal because the children in the audience can only remember three things at any given time, and only if you constantly repeat them like a mantra.

My kids are 10 and 8 now and running errands with them still goes like "Post office, library, GROCERY STORE!!!" because if I don't constantly sing-song it to them, one of them is likely to insist that I never ever said we had to go stop at the library and how dare I try to claim otherwise and if anything, I might have said ice cream shop.

I would actually blame it on Dora herself, except there was no Dora when I was a kid and I didn't pay any attention to my parents either.

Also I think Swiper is the sneaky fox who lives in us all, which is why kids generally like him even though he's the antagonist.
posted by padraigin at 10:14 AM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this the thread where we all talk about how much we hate Dora? I got away with telling my daughter that our TV didn't get Dora shows, until her mother ruined everything.
posted by papercake at 10:17 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I got away with telling my daughter that our TV didn't get Dora shows, until her mother ruined everything.

A few years back I was on the phone with my BFF and was struck when her three-year-old interrupted to demand that she turn on the TV so she could watch the news. "Your child is watching the news?" I asked.

She sighed. "No, we always switch to Dora right after we watch the news so it's the same thing to her."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady” made him “wanna get up and scream!”

I have to admit that I hadn't made that connection.
posted by diogenes at 10:28 AM on November 27, 2012


It’s not clear whether the creators of Dora the Explorer were thinking about this rich demonological tradition when they created Swiper

No, really?
posted by valkyryn at 10:29 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am amused that the section on Swiper is longer than the section on Dora in the Dora the Explorer wikipedia article.

IIRC There was a Christmas special where Dora travelled to the future or something to get Swiper off Santa's naughty list

Wiki says's its "Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure".
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before possession vs. After possession.

I cast thee out!
posted by swift at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2012


As a parent of a (near) 3-year old. The only "skills" I see this show teaching children is to scream at everything repeatedly until you get what you want.

Problem: Sleeping train is in the way
Answer: Scream "Train, train, wake up!" until it wakes up and chugs off.

Problem: Dragon is chasing a rabbit
Answer: Scream "We are Knights!!" until the dragon gives up

Problem: Crocodiles are blocking the river
Answer: Scream "Chomp, chomp, chomp!" until the crocodiles are somehow convinced that the screaming banshees of death are also crocodiles.

Problem: (of course) Fox is stealing your shit.
Answer: Scream "Swiper no swiping" until he stops.

3 year-olds don't need a TV show to teach this particular skill. I think it's innate.
posted by Debaser626 at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


Problem: A parent is sleeping...
posted by Artw at 10:47 AM on November 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


It has always bothered me that for an island of its size, Sodor has a ridiculously complex rail system.
posted by jbickers at 10:49 AM on November 27, 2012 [23 favorites]


My kids are 10 and 8 now and running errands with them still goes like "Post office, library, GROCERY STORE!!!"

A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.
posted by disconnect at 10:53 AM on November 27, 2012 [35 favorites]



I rather liked the original Fireman Sam series; the CGI ones are crap.


My kid is bored by CGI/3D modelling gubbins - any other type of animation and theyre fine.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:01 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


jbickers: Thomas the Imperialist Engine
posted by leotrotsky at 11:04 AM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


...and Sir Topham Hatt is clearly a fascist dictator in training. Who else would build a giant stature of himself?
posted by leotrotsky at 11:05 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


disconnect: stick a buttah.
posted by leotrotsky at 11:07 AM on November 27, 2012


leotrotsky: "...and Sir Topham Hatt is clearly a fascist dictator in training. Who else would build a giant stature of himself?"

KNEEL BEFORE HATT
posted by Chrysostom at 11:07 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


How realistic is the Fireman Sam series? Like, would a town that's really that small actually have a fire fighting force with such seemingly advanced and expensive equipment? I'm wondering if things are different in the UK, a town that small in the US would not. (yes, I know it's not meant to be a documentary)

It would if the residents of said town were as oblivious and stupid as the people of Pontypandy. The town officials wouldn't have much choice but to dedicate the bulk of the village budget to fire and rescue. Otherwise, there wouldn't be a town left. You might think that it would be better to put that money in the schools, so that future generations would learn things like "don't store the camping fuel next to the space heater," but that ship has sailed; the children of Pontypandy won't survive to create the next generation if there's no boat to fetch them every single time the fucking tide goes out.

What I can't figure out is why they have all that expensive equipment, but they only hired one competent fire fighter: Sam. Penny's almost competent, except that she can't figure out to stay far away from the other firefighters when she knows they're going to pin her under the truck or something.

Does Sam get any time off? What happens then? "What's that? Norman and his friends accidentally set your collection of oil-soaked rags on fire? And they're trapped in your shed with them? Why don't you let them out? ... Yeah, doorknobs are tricky things. Anyway, Sam's gone down to visit his mother in the valley for the afternoon, so why don't you just go back inside and turn up your TV real loud. We could send a crew, but we all know that means six dead people instead of four. Try to have a nice afternoon."
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:13 AM on November 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


There's some fun internet archaeology to be done here, too.

Check out the comments, which seem to skew in this direction...
If I had known that Dora the Explorer had so much evil twisted within I would have never allowed my child to watch it. As parents, we have to really pay attention to what our children our soaking in because swiping technically is stealing but as Dora teaching it more of a temporary steal and that is no good for the mind of no child.
That seems really odd for the Pop Matters audience and doesn't seem to understand the environment the article lives in at all. So I'm curious whether the story was picked up out of context on some fundie xian blog/forum (the Ron Paul effect), if the comments are from organic search hits at a time when folks were worried about Satanic children's media, or if there was just some intensely devoted method trolling going on.
posted by pokermonk at 11:14 AM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


A quote from a friend "It's somewhat comforting to know that there is no topic so pointless that someone on the Internet will expound on it."

On the other hand I find this type of thing wonderful. It's exactly the thing that makes me laugh and truly appreciate the application of all sorts of esoteric knowledge to thing which don't immediately seem appropriate.
posted by Carillon at 11:33 AM on November 27, 2012


What I can't figure out is why they have all that expensive equipment, but they only hired one competent fire fighter: Sam. Penny's almost competent, except that she can't figure out to stay far away from the other firefighters when she knows they're going to pin her under the truck or something.

I'm sure Tom Thomas could be helpful if he wasn't banished to that leper shed halfway up the hillside.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:43 AM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


A well-meaning person got my kids a Dora book, my 4 year old son is completely enraptured. He hasn't seen the cartoon yet (and hopefully never will). Just reading the book to him I feel my IQ lowering.

The show is not terrible for kids as tv shows go. But I agree that the books are just awful. My daughter got a set as a gift and I couldn't wait for an opportunity to dispose of them (which was tough, because she actually liked them, ugh). They are poorly structured, poorly written, and the art seems like a lazy cut and paste from the show's animation frames. In one book, a unicorn character ("Unicornio," wtf) is illustrated on every page using the exact same image pasted over and over. Key steps in a story from the show get omitted when translated to the book, leading to confusion when the story doesn't hold together. The books also seem to physically fall apart faster than other kid books. It's sad, because the Dora format offers some good opportunities -- exposure to different cultures, learning some Spanish, problem-solving, a girl character that isn't all about pink and princesses (though the princess thing seeps in too often).
posted by brain_drain at 12:00 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll post my Angelina Ballerina book review tomorrow.
posted by brain_drain at 12:02 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Cheapo kids tie-in books are usually just awful to read out loud as well.
posted by Artw at 12:07 PM on November 27, 2012


It's exactly the thing that makes me laugh and truly appreciate the application of all sorts of esoteric knowledge to thing which don't immediately seem appropriate.

Every since the death of the author, it's been irresistible fun picking apart stuff like this from a geeky historical/literary/philosophical perspective. One more for the pile.
posted by cthuljew at 12:27 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


cthuljew you made my day. That's awesome. The money quote for me:

The most fantastic element of the show is not that ponies can talk or that dragons exist; it is the illusion that an egalitarian society can be maintained among groups with massive biologically inherent gaps in ability and economic utility.

Yet another reason why metafilter is awesome.
posted by Carillon at 12:49 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


cthuljew: "One more for the pile."

The earth ponies' "special connection to the land" is MLP:FiM's Power of Heart.
posted by Gordafarin at 12:58 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pinkie Pie has Pinkie Powers!
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Pinko Pie.
posted by cthuljew at 1:02 PM on November 27, 2012


Gordafarin, you've now completed the circuit of this thread for me. I found the Swiper as demon essay at the end of a wiki-walk and you've just sent me on another one.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:04 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is probably as good a place as any to admit that the last time I played through Metal Gear Solid, I spent the better part of the Sniper Wolf boss fight thinking "SNIPER, NO SNIPING!"

I'm sure somewhere in the bowels of DeviantArt, somebody's drawn a Dora/MGS mashup. If I can imagine it, it must exist.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:09 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Glimmer, no stabbing!
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:17 PM on November 27, 2012


Cheapo kids tie-in books are usually just awful to read out loud as well.

The Dora and Diego books are all terrible, but some are much worse than others. You can tell that some folks doing the adaptations make half an effort and others are completely phoning it in. I find myself getting very angry when I read the worst of them.
posted by Area Man at 1:17 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised nobody's brought up that Swiper is a ripoff of the Hamburgler.
posted by hanoixan at 1:28 PM on November 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think he is? I mean, the Hamburglar steals burgers, and can only say "robble robble"; Swiper says may things, and steals everything. Also, you'll note that he never cusses. Clearly, Omar from the Wire was patterned after Swiper.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:44 PM on November 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


My Dora question: Is she just a character in a video game?

Other kids shows: If Timmy Time takes place in the Wallace and Gromit universe, why does Timmy need to go to daycare?
posted by drezdn at 1:45 PM on November 27, 2012


My Dora question: Is she just a character in a video game?

Video game? It's primarily a TV show, albeit with the usual kiddie-show spinoffs (books, etc.) The kids may be commanded to chant, but the show's just assuming they do; it's not a game where a failure to provide the incantation prevents progress.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:50 PM on November 27, 2012


Actually, yes, there's a conceit that the Doraverse exists within a computer game.
posted by padraigin at 2:45 PM on November 27, 2012


Obligatory TV Funhouse -- Maraka and Mittens.
posted by brain_drain at 3:10 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


The earth ponies' "special connection to the land" is MLP:FiM's Power of Heart.

ArtW is right, Pinkie, an earth pony, is probably the least bound of the lot of them to the physical laws of the universe. She regularly does cartoon stuff the other characters can't; sometimes they remark on this. (Dash: "How did you even do that?") A couple of times she's been known to address the audience at the end of the episode before iris-out. She might have general future-predicting powers (Madame Pinkie) and she almost certainly has specific future-predicting powers (Pinkie Sense). And when she attempts to solve problems, she has an unnerving habit of being either exactly right without having to expend effort (finding books quickly, the problem of the parasprites), or alternately of being extremely wrong (the situation with the buffalo, the train mystery). And she has at least some traditional magical knowledge, judging from her knowledge of the Mirror Pool and the activation chant.

The other mane main six earth pony, Applejack, is less obviously magical, but her clan showed specific affinity with magic when Granny Smith figured out how to grow Zap Apples, which is clearly a drawn-out ritual. Although it is one arrived at, paradoxically, through scientific observation! The most explicitly magical of the cast, Twilight, also approaches magic scientifically, and is the most disturbed by Pinkie's ability to defy causation, meaning that Pinkie may actually be the most "traditionally" magical of them all.

WHY ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME?! STOP LOOKING AT ME!
posted by JHarris at 3:15 PM on November 27, 2012 [15 favorites]


Is this the thread where we all talk about how much we hate Dora?

I've always liked Dora. Then again, I married a cute, absurdly positive Latina. So maybe its just me.
posted by msalt at 3:27 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


As a stay-at-home mom of kids from age 3 to 9, I'm going to defend Dora here. It's not high art and it's certainly got it's down-sides - little kids don't understand why shouting "Reach! Reach! Reach!" doesn't help them reach the cookies on the counter like it would in Dora. But while there are better shows, Dora is the best of the set of shows I'm okay with and my kids want to watch. There's a lot of crap out there and a lot of it is like toddler crack.

The heroine is female and Latina. That is not a common type for pre-school cartoon role models. She hangs out with a diverse crowd - everyone from her super-cool abuela, to a creepy mentally challenged anthropomorphic bulls, to Spanish speaking fire trucks- without being "DIVERSE!!" in an obvious , preachy, insert-token-black-kid-in-wheelchair-here kind of way. And unlike other female-led series, it is not a girly show. Boys love Dora too. Granted, they're embarrassed to admit it when they get older, but because it's a little kid show rather than a girl show. I can't think of another show for which that is true. Except maybe My Little Pony, but that's a whole different ball of wax.

Dora is friendly, helpful, energetic, hard-working, strong, and always upbeat. She never models any negative childhood behaviors (except for the shouting). No tantrums, no laziness, no self-centeredness, no whining (I'm looking at you Caillou!)

While the steps they take to solve problems may be ludicrous (protip: real snakes will not move out of your way if you "wiggle from side to side"), the show presents a really useful general model for problem-solving. They investigate the situation, figure out what needs to happen to solve the problem, ask for help where needed ("Who do we ask for help when we don't know which way to go?"), make a plan, and follow the plan through to the end, dealing with any obstacles that come up along the way, but not giving up until they get it done.

The Spanish language skills are super limited, but my three-year-old now regularly uses Spanish phrases that she picked up from Dora. Not always correctly, but she gets that it's another language that some people speak and she's excited that she can do it to. Like speaking in code. Just this weekend, she laughed and laughed because my father-in-law's freezer was "abajo" instead of "arriba" like ours.

Also, Boots is awesome. I love Boots the Monkey.

My Dora question: Is she just a character in a video game?

That's my understanding. The audience participation frequently appears as a mouse cursors clicking on something and at least one of the original intros shows her hopping around on a computer screen. I don't think the kids really get that though. It's odd.
posted by Dojie at 4:52 PM on November 27, 2012 [14 favorites]


problem solving? no, that's what blue's clues was for
posted by pyramid termite at 5:30 PM on November 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was under the concept that the Dora producers were actually trying to emulate the feel of a '90s-era educational CD-ROM, in a form that allowed for more variation (new episodes), was cheaper to produce (no actual software design required!) and cheaper for the end-user (no computer required!).
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:03 PM on November 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Doraverse? Do I need to start worrying about whether my daughter's Dora leapster game is canon?
posted by Area Man at 6:48 PM on November 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I sent this to an American friend now living in the Netherlands. She says that Swiper isn't so innocent in the Dutch version.
posted by k8t at 5:00 AM on November 28, 2012


I'll post my Angelina Ballerina book review tomorrow.

Could you do one about The Mole Sisters? That was one of our favourites. My son can still do a pretty good version of that received middle-class English accent, which is probably why his next favourite show was "Prehistoric Park" with Nigel Mah-vin.
posted by sneebler at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2012


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