Dora the Explorer: A Sad Tale of Child Neglect and Mental Illness

I’ve been watching a lot of children’s TV of late and I’ve come to several conclusions.  One is that Hanna Montana is a selfish hag of a human being and, if her father had the good sense to just slap her at the beginning of every episode, they would be over in one minute.  Tops.

The other is that Dora the Explorer is really disturbing when you really think about it.  Oh sure, the story of a carefree youth having adventures with her talking animal friends may seem cute and innocent on the surface, but underneath you will find that there lurks something sinister and disturbing.

1.) Dora is a neglected child. 

Where are her parents during all of this?  Oh sure, they go on an adventure with her every now and then, but for the most part this poor little girl is left unsupervised in some very dangerous predicaments.  I say again: where are this little girl’s parents?  Can you imagine this scenario?

Dora:  Adios, mama y papa!  I’m off to go get the king’s crown from the top of snow mountain with my pet monkey!
Papa:  Dora, I told you never to talk to daddy while he’s drinking.

And so, poor little Dora is left to her own devises roaming the jungle on these little made-up quests of hers.  At her side is Boots, the lovable talking monkey who serves as her best friend, but let’s be perfectly honest here:  Boots doesn’t exist.  He’s a figment of Dora’s fragile mind created to keep her relatively sane in the face of such neglect.  I don’t have a lot of evidence here to support that supposition, other than the fact that he’s a talking monkey which seems to seal the deal right away.  Did I also mention that Dora speaks to her backpack, a map, and a talking bull and squirrel thing?

I rest my case.

2.) The Map is a dangerous, dangerous individual.

Let’s say for a moment that Dora actually is surrounded by talking animals and inanimate objects so that we can discuss Map.

Map, in case you don’t know, is a talking map that tells Dora where to go. The problem is that map will always choose the most dangerous route for Dora to go on!

What’s worse is that her over-reliance on Map casts Dora into a life of co-dependency… it’s like Bella and Edward if Edward were made of paper and a hundred times more interesting.

Consider what happens when she calls on the map. I know this because my son, Xander, used to watch this show all the time and here is what regularly happened at the Gaston household when he beheld the bewitching magic of Dora the Explorer:

Dora: I need to go to the bathroom! Who do we ask when we need to get somewhere?

Xander: MAP!

Dora: Say map!

Xander: MAP!

Dora: Say it louder!

Xander: LOUDER!!! (I swear to God, he said this).

Map: I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map… I’M THE MAP!!!

I swear, whoever wrote that song should have their kneecaps shot out.

Map: So, Dora needs to go to the bathroom? First, we have to cross Crocodile Lake! Then, we go through the Chasm of No Return, and then through the Forest of Serial Killers! Did you understand that? Crocodile Lake, Chasm of No Return, Forest of Serial Killer!

Dora: Yay!

The only explanation that I can come up with is that Map represents Dora’s father who subconsciously wants her to wander off somewhere and get killed, freeing him of the child that he never wanted in the first place. If only… If only he had the courage to smother the girl and her oversized head in her sleep. But no… we have to wait for God to take her out.

“Hey, honey? I know you’re going to the playground, but why don’t you go through the Canyon of Screams first?”

3.) Every Unskilled Person on Dora the Explorer speaks Spanish.

You need a ride? You find that little rat thing. Guess what? He only speaks Spanish.

You need to have a beaver rebuild a bridge that just collapsed? Guess what? He only speaks Spanish.

You need a rabbit to trim a bush so you can see the castle that’s right in front of you? Guess what? He only speaks Spanish!

Obviously, despite her own Latina heritage, Dora is a racist. These Spanish-speaking day laborers who answer her beck and call show a limited set of skills and must be patronized by Dora giving a Spanish lesson to the imaginary studio audience following her around. I mean, come on… what if that little rat thing is driving along and really needs to be somewhere. His wife is giving birth to their sixth child or he has a coupon at Carnival that’s about to expire and then this psycho crazy kid steps out in front of him and orders him to stop and be her chauffeur? Doesn’t matter… because he’s just a guy who speaks Spanish.

Racism is no bueno.

4.) Swiper is Obviously a Metaphor for Inner City Life

At some point in the show, Dora and her friends are confronted by a fox named Swiper who is notorious for stealing their things and throwing them somewhere they can’t reach. God help Dora if he swipes her insulin kit or asthma inhaler.

Other than being the absolute best part of the show, the inclusion of Swiper into a universe that seems so happy and carefree is puzzling and has led me to this conclusion: Dora actually lives in the inner city where the crime is high and the streets are dangerous. Swiper represents those who would accost Dora and take what is hers. Every week, Dora is robbed and her in fragile and messed up little mind, she sees Swiper, a somewhat friendly character despite his kleptomania who can be warded off with the phrase, “Swiper, no swiping!”

In reality this would never work and, amazingly, it doesn’t always work in Dora’s world either. This could be teaching her a valuable lesson about how some people are just jerks and sometimes the jerks win, or — as I like to believe — every time Swiper wins in Dora’s world, Dora has been pistol whipped in the real one.

Why else would Swiper never be asked to answer for his crimes?

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