Political Edge

Trying to fight a controversial immigration law? Who do you turn to for assistance? Naturally, the first port of call is popular children’s cartoon character Dora the Explorer.

Or at least campaigners against a new immigration law in the state of Arizona seem to think so. The new law gives police the power to stop anyone as long they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is not a legal citizen. Which is bound to lead to heightening of racial tension and discrimination.

In a rather warped manner, the campaigners have given the Spanish speaking girl a black eye, bleeding nose and taken a police mug-shot of her. Some people will consider this technique a step too far, but it has been hugely successful in attracting attention.

Perhaps, in a new episode, we can expect to see Dora giving a basic lesson in always having your immigration papers in your trusty rucksack.

Maybe the use of cartoon characters in this manner should be adopted in the UK. It could definitely add a new element to debates over immigration policy.

Maybe the use of cartoon characters in this manner should be adopted in the UK

For example, in protest to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition putting a cap on migrants from outside the EU. You could highlight that once the annual cap has been reached, we face the very real possibility of beloved Paddington Bear being rejected entry to the UK. It is well known that Paddington is from ‘Darkest Peru’, and as a consequence may not be able to pack a battered suitcase full of marmalade sandwiches.

It could even creep in other spheres. I’m yet to see the episode of Postman Pat where the Communication Workers Union goes on strike over pay disputes and Pat delivers the mail three days late.

Using popular children’s figures in this way could easily go too far though, and also distract from the importance of the issues at hand.

Dora the Explorer immigration jokes have begun popping up everywhere, one even depicting her vaulting the wall at the US-Mexico border. This can trivialise the situation.

Whatever the context, cartoon characters are a powerful tool. They can have a broad appeal as well as being part of an unorthodox campaign method. However, it might, just somehow, be an effective form of public opposition.

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