I blame Pokemon.
Indirectly, of course. Everything nowadays must be an RPG. Back in my day, we didn't have many shows based on video games, so kids were content to watch adult soldiers (G.I. Joe), superheroes (Superman, Batman), fantasy characters (He-Man and She-Ra), and robots (Go-Bots) fight each other WITHOUT being controlled by a young child. But now everything is kid controlled, a la Pokemon/Monster Rancher/Barcode Battler. I think Barcode Battler is where this starts, for the most part; the kid-controlling-monster game idea.
But let's just look: Cardcaptors- Kids control mystic energy in tarot cards. Cubix- a new show where a boy controls a robot he built. Pokemon/Digimon. We're not talking about shows where kids go adventuring; the Jabberjaw/Scooby-Doo generation. We're not even talking about kids, not teens, like Enzo from Reboot. We're talking about command. Child generals. This is the stuff of Ender's Game.
Something about it discomforts me. It's not just seeing the heroes themselves castrated and relegated to servile positions. These shows place responsibility firmly in the kids hands. They are not just doing stuff themselves; the are responsible for another person/robot. This is all well and good, right? We want our kids to be responsible, right? I guess. I don't know. I always felt inadequate for not having developed my mutant powers yet, or for never having solved a mystery, or for never having travelled to a different dimension. My parents always expected big things from me, after all, I was their genius son. Why wasn't I doing all this stuff?
I guess the question is: Are we putting too much responsibility on our kids? Are we asking too much, encouraging them all (at least, the more imaginiative ones) to be great generals? What about the feelings of inadequacy; though totally unjustified, that come from being normal? I myself was a latchkey kid, and I took it seriously; it was a good amount of responsibility. I'm sure there would be some for whom it was too much. Where do we draw the line? Do children feel they're supposed to save themselves? What else can they believe when their heroes are nothing but hollow puppets without the kid's hand up their ass? Voltron used to sleep with me; he was controlled by big competent men, so I never feared at night. But what if I had been in control? And what if I froze?
Of course, confidence arises from responsibility successfully upheld. But then, what's the point, when most of our children will grow up to be servile themselves; mindless white collar wage slaves? I guess we should let them be in control now; while they still can.