Saturday, March 14, 2009

I Don't Care What The Zula Patrol Says, Pluto Is Not a Planet—Deal With It

I just watched an episode of The Zula Patrol that was nothing more than Pluto propaganda. Qubo devoted an entire Zula Patrol episode to convincing kids to feel bad about Pluto being demoted (correctly) to a dwarf planet. The episode paints the gas giants, and particularly Jupiter, as bullies who refuse to play with their small and lonely brother with the irregular orbit. Jupiter remarks (again correctly), "You're not a planet. I have moons bigger than you." The episode also presents a hypothetical debate between astronomers about Pluto's status. The astronomer arguing for planethood is an American with a strong, super-heroish voice; the astronomer arguing for demotion is a rude and sassy French woman.

Ultimately, with the help and encouragement of the Zula Patrol and Charon, Pluto's moon (and lover?), Pluto saves the solar system by preventing a comet from smashing into Mars and earns the respect of the eight real planets. Sadly, Qubo missed an opportunity to introduce kids to the other dwarf planets: Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. In fact, I would argue that The Zula Patrol's approach to the Pluto "debate" is part of a larger problem: Bellyaching about Pluto is impeding knowledge of the other four dwarf planets.


Blogger irishays said...

maybe other episodes of Zula will cover the other planets

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Josh Tinley,

I am the creator and executive producer of The Zula Patrol.

Thank you for your comments. We at Zula would like to respectfully agree and disagree with you on several points, and ask you to consider our motivation in crafting the storyline as we did.

We, too, are quite satisfied with the International Astronomical Union’s classification of Pluto as a dwarf planet. At the time this episode was written and originally aired, Pluto was still a planet, and a decision had not yet been reached - and it was over a year after the first airing of this episode that a decision was reached. We were getting many emails from concerned parents (and their children) about the raging debate. Most children and parents were upset about the possibility of Pluto losing its status. We even had one small child convinced that Pluto would no longer exist!

We wanted to handle the issue in a sensitive manner that took into account the feelings of many of our viewers, and that also showed them why Pluto’s status was up for debate. By showing that an “Outsider” can be appreciated, we hoped to teach children tolerance of differences in others. We’d like children to recognize that it’s okay to disagree, and that a different opinion isn’t wrong – it’s just different. Your comments make for a perfect example. Thank you.

For clarification, at the time of the original air date of this episode, Ceres was still simply the largest asteroid, Haumea was known as 2003 EL61, Makemake was 2005 FY9, and Eris being referred to as Xena, or more formally, 2003 UB313. There were no official “dwarf planets” to mention! We can’t wait to see who’s next to join the list, and we look forward to an episode designed to introduce the newly designated dwarf planets to children around the world.

One last very important comment - I would like to be very clear about this - the entire team Zula is very very very careful to never imply ANYTHING sexual in any of our shows! You will never ever, in all of our 104 shows, see or hear anything even hinting of anything of such manner. In fact, in the show about Pluto, his moon calls him Mr. Pluto and even sings an adorable song to him about being "best friends." The title of that song is "Best Friends Forever!" Romance is NEVER implied so I am at a loss as to how you arrived at that conclusion.

Thank you for watching, and for sharing your thoughts.

Kindest regards,
Dr. Deborah M. Manchester

Deborah M. Manchester, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Zula International
4111 West Alameda Avenue, Suite 501
Burbank, CA 91505
(Office) 818-840-1695 Ext. 26
(Cell) 614-571-5820
(FAX) 818-840-1699

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Deborah M. Manchester's explanation about Zula Patrol episode “Outsider” is pretty well...

But what I think about the program's real attitude towards the “Pluto debate” is that thy still didn't want to be too scientific, because they didn't show the Kuiper belt in the Zula Patrol's “Solar System” even though it was discovered in early 1990s.

I think that they just did't want to show to the public that Pluto is just one icy rock in the population of thousands...

PS: Vesta, Juno, Ceres and Pallas were originally considered as planets but the discovery of many other tiny worlds between Jupiter and Mars eventually led their reclassification as “asteroids” or “minor planets”.

5:12 AM  

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