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Public Communication of Science and Technology


Between genius and dummy, good and evil, Rotwang, Frankenstein and Wernher von Braun The portrayal of scientists in the TV-cartoon Kim Possible

Luz Nieto   Bielefeld University

Current research indicates that children hold stereotyped views of scientists. Mass media products, such as films, television series or comics, are often considered the source of those images. However, we know little about how contents addressed to children portray science and scientists. This paper aims to make a contribution in this direction, presenting the results of a qualitative analysis on scientists’ representation in the popular series Disney’s Kim Possible. The study examines the depiction of scientists, scientific work, impacts of scientific products, and the overall image of science transmitted to children through this TV-program. It focuses on two main characters, Dr. Drakken and Dr. James Possible, who play a significant role in the overall plot of the series. The analysis shows that these researchers present stereotypical and counter-stereotypical features respectively. By contrasting these characters and their contexts, the series conveys a clearly demarcated image of what constitutes good and bad science. Additionally, the analysis illustrates how popular images of scientists represent an essential source of science images for animated cartoons and emerge in the series symbolic structure. Finally, the study shows that Dr. Drakken’s stereotypical portrayal is explicitly employed as a device to reflect on stereotypes about science in mass media.

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