An Australian children’s show, called “SheZow,” explores the nature of gender and will debut this weekend on the Hub Network. The show is already shocking conservatives. While Focus on Family is concerned that SheZow will “promote gender confusion,” the Hub Network and the show’s creator continue to defend the program amidst controversial opinions.
“SheZow presents at a pop-culture level what transgender activists believe and what some academics have taught for years: that gender is completely socially constructed and that people can change gender,” Focus on Family spokesperson Jeff Johnston told CitizenLink.
“Instead of giving kids good role models to follow, this cartoon reflects our culture’s confusion about the two sexes, and kids don’t need that confused message.”
The Hub Network has used the publicity to its advantage.
“We’re dedicated to providing quality shows for kids & families, so we’d like to offer #SheZow’s 1st episode for free,” The Hub tweeted.
The 12-year-old male protagonist transforms into a superhero dressed as a female after chanting “You Go Girl” and weilding his power ring.
“For younger children, I think it’s appropriate to say, ‘That’s a show that we’ve got some concerns about as a family, and we’ll not be watching it,’” Plugged In Senior Associate Editor Adam Holz added to CitizenLink.
“For an older child, a show like ‘SheZow’ could be a great teachable moment to talk about the reality and truth of gender as God has designed it.”
While organizations like Focus on Family and Plugged In argue that the show will “underscore society’s confusion about sexuality and gender,” the show’s creator, Obie Scott Wade, doesn’t see the controversy.
“Just based on what they wrote, they’re reading a lot into the show that’s not there. I didn’t set out to make a show about any sort of political agenda, I just wanted to make a comedy. I wanted to make a cartoon that I would have liked as a kid. So I think people are just reading a lot into it,” Wade said in an interview with i09.
“And one of the biggest misconceptions people have about SheZow is that Guy’s body changes when he puts on the ring: it doesn’t, he’s still a boy, just wearing a different outfit and hair. And the only ones who know that SheZow is a boy are his sister, his best friend Maz, and his supercomputer named Sheila — everybody else thinks SheZow is a girl.”
SheZow is not the first or only show to explore gender. The characters in the Archie comics changed genders for an issue. Bugs Bunny, who Wade cites as an inspiration for SheZow, used to disguise himself by dressing as a female. Japanese anime show, Sailor Moon, had three male popstars transform into female superheroes and was prematurely banned in the US during the 1990s.
“There are a lot of experiences [SheZow] has that broaden him as a character, but predominantly it’s about a laid-back kid who’s suddenly forced to save the world,” said Wade. “It’s more about the responsibility that he has to take on, and less about gender… [We set out to] make a good animated superhero comedy that didn’t make a big deal out of the situation.”