Column: This big, blue tank engine is canceled for being toxic

Ryan Meyer

If you’re a fan of big and powerful engines, then surely you’re familiar with Gordon, the biggest and most powerful of them all. This steam-powered blue stallion was one of the original engines on Sir Topham Hatt’s island of Sodor. He was in charge of pulling the Express, and this responsibility is the root of our problems in an increasingly sensitive age.

Toxic masculinity is defined as “a set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men.” Upon rereading some of these classic stories by Reverend W. Awdry, such as “Off the Rails,” it’s clear that Gordon the Proud Engine is a victim of this. “Off the Rails” features Gordon throwing a temper tantrum after being relegated to pulling trucks while his coworker Henry got to pull the Express. Gordon quickly makes his indignation known by insulting Henry and recalling a traumatic accident where Henry absolutely obliterates a train waiting in the siding.

Gordon knows that pettily mentioning this issue is sure to bring back unpleasant memories for Henry, whose accident occurred only 33 pages ago. Gordon refuses to go pull the train and sticks himself in the turntable. When fellow blue engine Edward and their crews finally get him out, he attempts to get himself stuck in the turntable again in yet another futile effort to avoid doing work he has deemed himself too important to do. Rather than getting himself stuck, he finds himself unable to stop and rolls into a ditch.

Awdry ends the story by mentioning that Gordon’s day in the ditch made him a wiser engine, but in the very next story Gordon is sentenced to more truck-pulling and takes out his anger by abusing the trucks he’s shunting. They scream in agony as he snorts and likely grits his teeth in angry satisfaction.

So no, Reverend, I don’t think Gordon is a wiser engine. I think his punishment made him all the more aggressive and vengeful.

In “Gordon’s Whistle,” Gordon begins the story by once again singling out Henry, his Big Engine Rival.

“‘Why should Henry have a new shape? A shape good enough for ME is good enough for him.”

This is a case of an engine body shaming his counterpart for no reason other than to bring him down. Gordon receives no personal gain from this behavior. Gordon is incredibly toxic and disrespectful towards his fellow steam engines.

In short, Gordon should be canceled. #gordonisoverparty. The way this Proud Engine treats those around him and the way he thinks so highly of himself are improper standards for the Thomas the Tank Engine audience. When I read these stories to my kid one day, I’m going to skip the ones about Gordon because I want them to know that they can pull coaches if they want to pull coaches, and that there’s nothing wrong with pulling trucks.


Ryan Meyer is a sophomore journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or  [email protected]