a bear with the text "warning contains bears"

Warning! Contains Bears

How many bears do you expect?

Bears may have dominated social media discussion recently and I’m sure people have plenty of reasons for “picking the bear” so I’m not going to try and tie this in, but have you ever considered bears? I hadn’t really until I happened to read a random billboard featuring the phrase “more bears than you’d expect”. Surely that number depends on the context. So what if that context was childhood role models? Bear with me.

My kid has outgrown their cartoons but I can only really think of one bear-shaped influence, and that was Disney’s Special Agent Oso. Now I’ve nothing against Oso, he’s voiced by Sean Astin, what can you do?

Oso - a yellow teddy bear with blue paws, eye rings and ear tips, wearing a black jacket

But that feels like considerably fewer bears than I’d expect. That’s one, just one. Across all media? Even shows about toys; Doc McStuffins? No bears. Toy Story 3? Only one bear, but he’s kind of a bit evil and not a great role model, to be honest.

On the other hand millennial upbringing – many bears, surprisingly many bears. Definitely more than you’d expect.

Teddy Ruxspin may have been a creepy animatronic but at the time I was old enough to only see the magic. Plus, he apparently contributed to the success of the Nintendo Entertainment System. Who knew? There was also a cartoon that I don’t really remember.

teddy ruxpin - a toy bear with animatronic mouth and eyes, wears a brown shirt

We also had Care Bears to teach us about feelings and the power of friendship and, well, caring. They might even have kickstarted my interest in Star Trek, IYKYK. I’ll also throw Gummy Bears in here too just for the power of friendship messaging, and a shout-out to the banger of an intro theme.

It’s at this point I realise that I was rather easy to influence, at least by bears. I liked planes, but seaplanes were particularly fascinating, thanks to Talespin. I had a marmalade sandwich phase and my favourite coat was a blue duffle with toggles, or, now that I think about it one of those bomber jackets with the collar… Talespin again! Although, Rupert may be responsible for my fondness for long scarves, kites and badgers.

Talespin Logo - the title sits above a blue globe featuring a bear in a bomber jacket, a yellow seaplane swoops past

I don’t know if I should even start with Winnie the Pooh unintentionally being half the basis for my personality and perhaps my relationships with food and exercise – plus honey. That show still really appeals to my sense of humour and have you watched any Sooty recently? Comedy Gold.

I nearly missed Super Ted! Could that have been my first superhero? Although there’s something uncomfortable about that memory, maybe the whole removing skin thing or some specific episode? And Yogi Bear, whom I don’t have an anecdote for, but picnics and being smarter than the average bear are not bad life goals.

Super Ted - Orange bear removes his skin to reveal a red superhero costume, complete with cape and boots.

Now I’ve probably missed someone’s favourite bear from the 80s or 90s, but at least now I’m ready to admit that there were more bears than I’d expect.

So, where does that leave our children and our children’s children? Morally adrift with a lack of cuddly role models? Perhaps not. Maybe we’ve just diversified? Fewer bears and more…

Cats? No one is taking a cat as a role model – unless it’s Garfield and he’s probably not the best option.

Dogs then? Bluey, for one, has had such a cultural impact that I’m hearing about it, and of course, Paw Patrol is just everywhere. Have you tried buying a lunch box lately?

Bluey - A family of four cartoon dogs, two brown and two blue in colour.

Perhaps the bear-fancying generation has moved on to more adult “bearepresentation” such as Baldur’s Gate 3‘s Halsin? Or maybe we’ve seen the fall of our idols with movies such as Cocaine Bear or Pooh: Blood and Honey.

Do we somehow resent our early life guides? Or perhaps maybe my kid has just aged out of such shows and I don’t know what I’m talking about anymore…

We definitely used to have more bears though.

Halsin - Elf lady with "exposed shoulders" face to face with a large bear, like an actual bear bear.






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