It’s important for everyone to vote, but it’s even more important that voters be educated about facts and issues. This release of selected Schoolhouse Rock! segments related to politics is a great way to bone up on some of the basics. You have to make sure that those you’re watching with don’t mind you singing along, though.
The DVD, released September 23, contains fifteen segments grouped in four categories:
The Campaign (covering positions and issues)
- Energy Blues
- Tax Man Max
- Walkin’ on Wall Street — in which, astoundingly, a pigeon teaches kids about doller-cost averaging when buying stocks, a pretty complex concept for a singing cartoon.
- Tyrannosaurus Debt — about why the government should have a balanced budget. That and the previous two were from the “Money Rock” series, created in the 1990s, so I hadn’t previously seen them.
- I’m Gonna Send Your Vote to College — created in 2002 for the 30th Anniversary DVD release, it explains how the electoral college works.
- No More Kings — the gross-looking king with too much blush is such a memorable image, while electing a president to do what the people want and build a “free country” is a powerful goal to live up to.
- The Shot Heard ‘Round the World — one of my all-time favorites, “it was the start of the revolution”, even if it does talk about the misnamed Battle of Bunker Hill and the probably misattributed quote from it.
- Fireworks — about the birth of the country and the Declaration of Independence. Jazzy!
- Mother Necessity — covering important inventions; if redone today, it’d have to cover Europe (wasn’t the web started in Switzerland?) and Japan (for all that technology).
- The Great American Melting Pot — immigration used to be a good thing!
How Government Works
- The Preamble — to the Constitution, natch. I like the miniskirted mom voting with her daughter!
- Three-Ring Government
- I’m Just a Bill — everyone’s favorite! How could you not include this one?
- Sufferin’ ’til Suffrage — women get the vote!
Extra Credit — The new song “Presidential Minute” encourages people to vote. For some strange reason, they use red for democrats and blue for republicans (well, donkeys and elephants, anyway). In the debate scene, there’s a man and a woman, but we couldn’t figure out if the woman was supposed to be a candidate or someone asking him questions. But there are two endings, and one of them answers that question. Way cool!
The DVD also comes with an Election Tracking Kit, a US map with the states marked with their number of electoral votes and stickers to track progress. There’s almost an hour’s worth of material, but the rewatch value is immense.
It’s a shame that packages like this tend to be stocked in kids’ sections (because they’re cartoons, don’t'cha know), because they’re really cool. I learn something every time I watch the Schoolhouse Rock! series, and there’s no better way to educate people, no matter their age, than catchy songs and memorable images.
There’s also an ad included for the upcoming Schoolhouse Rock! Earth, which promises “new songs with new characters for a new generation.” Still, I was pleased to see Interplanet Janet flying by as part of the promo.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the studio.)
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