Fluffy Gardens features what could be called morality tales, to a point. But some lessons conflict and others require interpretation because there are so many different ways of looking at things. For example, Mavis the Pony is very careful (a good thing for safety) and yet that sometimes completely inhibits her and she misses out on fun experiences (a bad thing). There’s a grey area that requires a unique decision whether or not to be careful in any given situation.
On top of that, most Fluffy Gardens characters are more well-rounded than they may initially appear. They don’t just embody a single trait.
This became problematic for certain characters and stories, especially for the distributor who (probably rightly) argued young children don’t like grey areas. For example, in Paolo the Cat’s episode I introduced Cornelius the Crab as a ‘naughty crab’. I came to regret that labelling, which would forever taint how we view that character’s actions, just as it would do if we label children. Later, I chose to revisit the label in Cornelius’ own episode in which, because he’s always pinching, he is branded as ‘naughty’ by most characters until they realise that his pinching can actually be useful in the right situation.
It was somewhat of a grey conclusion – he shouldn’t pinch people, but was I justifying the behaviour by also showing that others shouldn’t judge him so quickly? The ending is unsure. Really it comes down to this: disapprove of the behaviour, not the person. A very difficult message to get across to a child, especially when children themselves are so quick to label. I guess it is nature’s quick way of sorting out friend from foe in a child’s mind.
But life isn’t that simple. It isn’t black or white. There are many shades of grey and, personally, I think we would do children a disservice to pretend this were not the case.
On another topic, the Cartoon Forum is on this week. I won’t be there but our producer Gerard O’Rourke will be and he happens to have an episode or two of Cosmo with him. So if you’re going, hunt him down and check out the show!