Feds Spend $1.25 Million on Superhero Cartoon in Pakistan

Cartoon teaches importance of ‘a healthy, drug-free lifestyle’

teens watching tv
June 23, 2016

The State Department is spending over $1 million to create a cartoon superhero who teaches the importance of "living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle" and "women’s empowerment" for kids in Pakistan.

The agency’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, or INL, division issued a grant solicitation for two seasons of an animated series to "promote security and stability" in Pakistan.

"INL would like to develop a superhero animated cartoon series aimed at an older target audience (ages 14-25)," according to the grant announcement. "This series would inform, educate, and positively influence Pakistani youth in an entertaining and engaging manner."

"The series will incorporate social messaging that reinforces INL goals, such as counternarcotics, gender equality, the role of police in civil society, a fair criminal justice system, anti-corruption, religious tolerance, and other topics that promote security and stability in civil society," the agency said.

The project will receive $1,250,000 to produce two 13-episode seasons of the cartoon, each episode of which will be 11 minutes long. The series will air on public television in Pakistan and will also be advertised on social media.

"The goal of each episode is to inform, educate, and positively influence Pakistani youth about the role and responsibilities of the police and criminal justice system," according to documents accompanying the grant announcement.

The show will attempt to present "positive messages" on the topics of gender equality, anti-corruption, and the "role of police in civil society."

Other topics covered in the superhero cartoon include: "The promotion of non-violence in conflicts," "women’s empowerment," "the importance of living a healthy, drug-free lifestyle," and "inter-faith peace and religious tolerance."

The State Department said the mission of the International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs is to "minimize the impact of international crime and illegal drugs on the United States, its citizens, and partner nations by providing effective foreign assistance and fostering global cooperation."

The agency hopes the superhero cartoon will appeal to teenagers in Pakistan and persuade them to not join terrorist organizations. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the best response to terrorism is love and kindness, in the wake of the terror attack in Orlando at the Pulse nightclub that left 49 dead, and dozens of others wounded.

"The lack of access to education and low literacy rates coupled with extremist elements and

violence, make youth susceptible to negative influences such as drug use, falling prey to extremist groups, crime, gender-based violence, and corruption," the State Department said. "The majority of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 25 years (currently estimated to be over 100 million people) and is especially vulnerable to negative influences."

"If youth are exposed to a character that models socially positive behaviors and values, then they are more likely to adopt those values and behaviors, making it less likely that they accept or promote extreme ideological views," the agency continued. "Therefore, special emphasis needs to be placed on informing, educating, and positively influencing Pakistani youth, as they will shape the future of the country."

It is not clear if the superhero will be a boy or a girl, but the character will be "portrayed as a positive role model for Pakistani youth."

"Key to this new character’s success will be that he/she possesses a local, indigenous persona, fully immersed in Pakistani culture," the agency said.