And I said Hey! What a wonderful kind of Day! Where we learn to work and Play! And Get Along with each other…
I’m pretty sure the opening Arthur theme song was the first non-nursery rhyme I ever committed to memory, so it’s really no question the preliminary Token Icon Appreciation goes out to my main man Arthur.
Now I know what you all are thinking. Arthur is an anthropomorphized Aardvark, he isn’t really Black… And that’s a fair criticism to make, especially of Token Icon #1, however, when we examine the facts, I think you’ll see where I’m coming from.
Arthur was Light-Skinned, hung out at school all day with his White bunny rabbit friend Buster, danced to Caribbean-sounding theme music, and let his parents dress him like a total dork… Hello, It Me.
There really weren’t that many non-white options for role models in the grand scheme of 1990’s programming aimed at children, so even though it was a stretch, I really did see myself in Arthur. And even outside appearance and circumstance, there was a lot I felt we had in common.
Arthur was an intelligent, geeky kid who had minor athletic talents, average if any luck with the ladies, but a strong family nucleus who was always there to support him. As I’m sure was the intention of the show’s creators, I definitely connected with the character. And speaking of family members, we were introduced to the sassiest, shade-throwing little sister in all of television in D.W.
Even before the memes, this show offered us invaluable lessons on how to mercilessly verbally cut the people we love around us, and I for one, have utilized those skills to this very day. Sometimes in life, we’re the butt of every joke and we have to sit there, fists balled ready to lose it.
Sometimes, we’re incessantly tearing into someone for no reason other than being a brat. See, while I was busy jamming to the best intro theme song on PBS, I was also learning about anger management and also survival tips for High School cafeteria roasting sessions.
So for vaguely looking like us, for portraying an attainable role model, for being your true nerdy self, and for teaching us invaluable interpersonal skills, we salute you, Arthur.
(I’m so happy #BlackTwitter brought you back into our lives)