Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chloë the Explorer

Chloë's been intrigued by the products she's seen and the couple of Youtube videos we've watched that feature Dora the Explorer, and the show seemed wholesome enough, so she got a Dora DVD in her stocking. It's been a big hit. I'm now regretting it, as there's a ton of repetition in it, but it does seem to work well; Chloë's remembering a surprising amount about the different episodes. (She's supposed to; the shows follow a formula of "Inciting incident that requires a quest - Map shows two obstacles to get to the quest - Dora and friends successfully navigate those obstacles and some other problems while asking the viewer to act with them" with Dora and her sidekicks asking the viewer to count, or find something, or say something, or jump, etc.; and the map part of the show always involves several repetitions of their projected path so that the viewer can later inform Dora where to go next.)

One of the episodes involves going through the Milky Way and past the Space Rocks to the Purple Planet to bring some aliens home, and after watching this a couple of times Chloë has been playing "outer space" all around the house for days. Her sleeper is a space suit, her turtle is her helmet (Dora stresses the importance of wearing a suit and helmet; I'm glad she's concerned about safety); a plastic ring is her steering wheel; the Play Hut or her bed is the space ship. It's extremely cute, and much more soul-satisfying for us to watch than her wanting to be Princess Aurora or Belle.

But what interests me most about her Dora playacting is that the character she's most interested in is Swiper, the antagonist. As antagonists go, he's not much; he's a would-be thief, but all that Dora and her friends (and the audience) have to do to thwart him is say "Swiper no swiping" three times. There's at least one episode in which he succeeds, but mostly he's only a momentary threat, another task to perform. But Chloë has been talking and talking about him. "Where is Swiper?" "I see Swiper!" "Swiper is sleeping." "Swiper's mouth is full." "Swiper is playing in the snow." I guess I can see why; she puts herself in Dora's place as the pilot/climber/hide-and-seeker, and Boots is just an echolalic sidekick, and Swiper is a dynamic and contrasting element. Or maybe she's just naturally drawn to the character most closely allied with nefariousness. Though in that case, for my money she should be concentrating on Backpack. Any character who says "Yum yum yum, muy delicioso!" as he eats all the useful but momentarily unwanted props bears watching. Who knows when YOU may be unwanted?

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