The Moral Repugnance of ‘The Magic Schoolbus’

Miss Frizzle was no hero.

What if I told you that I had in my possession a vehicle of unimaginable power, capable of shifting into any size, shape, and having the functionality of quite literally everything on Earth (and outer space)? You’d likely be dubious of my claim, but once I showed you the powers of my machine you’d have visions of a world that no longer suffered under the conditions of hunger, disease, or any other malady.

“Fuck you” would be my response, or rather Miss Frizzle’s response. That so-called hero of mid 90's television (and the metaphor of the greatness of teachers) was at best a banal, morally ambiguous, myopic dolt. At worst she was some version of a Tolkien villain, powerful beyond words and unwilling to ever consider the consequences of her near-immortal abilities. And she was an antisemite to boot.

The case against The Frizz

As she enriched the lives of her (unrealistically small) class of students she did all she could to hide her powerful machine from anyone, including teachers, administrators, parents, or ANY GODDAMN SCIENTIST WHO MIGHT LIKE TO HAVE A LOOK AT A MACHINE THAT CAN DO ALL THINGS. On two separate occasions the bus shrinks down and runs its way through Arnold’s body. Why? Well the second time it’s because Arnold has turned orange from ingesting too much beta carotene from SeaWeedies. The bus literally sucks the substance from his cells.

On a separate episode the bus goes inside The Frizz herself, helping her win a fitness competition against Garth Sinew (voiced by Dan Marino). Never mind the fact that she is flat out cheating in order to win a sanctioned competition. That lesson of immorality can wait for now. Instead let us focus on the fact that — again — this magic fucking bus is able to pull lactic acid from the muscles of a human being without any side effects or consequences. Have you ever heard of lactic acidosis? It’s almost always caused by an underlying condition or as a reaction to certain medications. It’s not a diagnosis that you want to get. Hemofiltration is practically useless as a treatment. Most of the people who suffer from lactic acidosis have to pretty much ride it out and hope that their doctor can treat the underlying problem before it kills them. And yet here’s this bitch with a magic bus that can cure this problem within minutes. But no, don’t tell the principal about this bus, he might ask too many questions. Better to let people die in agony.

I don’t remember a lot from my days in grade school, but I’m pretty certain that at no time did my teacher put me in a position to be eaten by various different animals after having shrunken me down with an experimental laser. Anyone else have that happen to them? No? Well then we were all lucky not to have this lunatic mad scientist for a teacher. Because Miss Frizzle most certainly did nearly kill her kids on a regular basis. It’s child abuse and not once does anyone question it. “Hey kids, let’s build a rickety bridge made of Q-Tips and toilet paper and use it to cross a bathtub with a baby alligator in it”. Not. Fucking. Normal.

Anti-Semitism in the classroom

Obviously the class had to have a a high rate of tokenism, so you had the blonde girl, black girl, black boy, fat white boy, Hispanic boy, half Hispanic girl, and red-headed Jewish boy. When it came time to hold a mock trial of Miss Frizzle who do you think they chose as the lawyer? That’s right, Arnold PEARLSTEIN.

I’m not saying she’s a Nazi, ok. But Frizzle was probably shortened from Frizzleburg and there’s an element of self-loathing anti-Semitism in her. Plus, Arnold was always the meek, timid kid who constantly complained about ALL THE INSANE SHIT HE WAS FORCED TO DO IN HER CLASS OF HORRORS. He seemed like the only rational one and yet The Frizz focused a lot of her hectoring, badgering commentary towards him. Highly suspicious.

So was Miss Frizzle a paragon of virtue and a glorious example for kids all over the world to follow? Hardly. She was essentially a cult leader with a godlike machine and no accountability. You say “magic”, I say “super villain”.