Saturday, April 30, 2005

Evil Children's Shows

Actually, all children's shows are evil, it's just the manner of degree that they are evil. The easiest solution would be to ban TV altogether for my 3.5 year-old, but dammit, I sometimes need that 20 40 minutes of relative peace and quiet to do something or take a break.

Thanks to Tivo, I can limit what Little Miss Director sees and can screen out shows I don't want her to watch, but since I have to let her watch something, I have to settle on the lesser evils. So here is my take on shows for the pre-school set going from least evil to most. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but just what I have run across:

Show: Backyardigans
Evil Level: Low
Type of Evil: Evil Music Writers

This is one of a new generation of children's cartoons that is completely computer animated. I actually find The Backyardigans somewhat entertaining from an adult level, and since there is an inverse relationship on a show's adult entertainment value and its educational content, I assume this show's educational value is low. But that isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is that the music writers for this show are mad geniuses - probably commercial jingle writers - who put a song in every show that is impossible to get out of your head.

So imagine my anger when, even an hour after the show is over, I still have "Three Friends" running over and over and over in my head.

The other problem is that they picked a show title that is impossible for a 3.5 year old to say. Every time she wants to watch this show I think she is asking to play in the back yard.

Show: Dora
Evil Level: Low
Type of Evil: Siempre la misma lĂ­nea de la historia

Dora is the most popular pre-school show on television today. The problem is that if you seen one, you've seen them all: use a map to get across three obstacles to get to the magic Kingdom - and use a mix of English and Spanish along the way. The show has a large Hispanic following, maybe because the storyline seems very, very familiar...

Show: Barney
Evil Level: Moderate
Type of Evil: PC

I was one of those smug single people who swore that Barney would never play in my home. Fast forward a few years and you might find it on in the living room while I work in my study. Barney is actually pretty good since it is so educational. What bothers me isn't the "I love you - you love me" song that so many people despise, but the low-level Political Correctness that permeates the show. Usually it is low enough to ignore, but there are a few episodes I've deleted from the Tivo just by reading the show's title, like "Feeling Good About Ourselves", "It's Okay to be Angry", and "Accepting Daddy's New Boyfriend" (okay, that last one is made up, but you get my drift).

Show: Caillu Caillou
Evil Level: Moderate
Type of Evil: French Canadian

Why is this kid bald at six years of age? Why does he have a name no one can pronounce or spell? Why is this airing in the U.S.?

Actually, the main problem I have with the show is that it explores the "darker" side of being a preschooler: being scared, being frustrated, being angry, being lost. Yes, these are all real-life experiences that pre-schoolers can relate to, but Little Miss Director seems to get a bit down after watching the show. Maybe this was meant for a slightly older audience? Mrs. Director gives it extra evil points for the narrator's voice, which she finds particularly grating.

Show: Lazy Town
Evil Level: High
Type of Evil: Bad Acid Trip

Little Miss Director has never seen this. The only reason I ran across is that Nickelodeon played it at a time my Tivo thought it was recording Dora. I watched a few minutes of the show and couldn't get my brain around it. It didn't make sense, it was non-linear, and everyone and everything in it was very, very strange. The fact that the main male protagonist seems French (the guy in blue above) just sort of completes the whole bad hallucination.

Show: Teletubbies
Evil Level: Cthulhu
Type of Evil: Alien Mind Control

This show has never aired in the Director household, but I have seen at other people's houses. I figure it is either an attempt by aliens or a religious cult to take over the brains of small children. Avoid at all costs.

Not reviewed is Sesame Street, which Little Miss Director doesn't like, and which I thought was stupid when I was five. Bear and the Big Blue House is low evil, but I can't find it on TV, so it's only on DVD in our house.

Update: Linked to OTB's Weekend Traffic Jam!


XenoMuta said...

Wow, I see it's not just me that thinks 99.9% of babyTV content is evil. I too find the Backyardigans music theme somewhat a hypnotically-mkultrish-mind-controllish-neuro-linguistical-programming psycho loop song.

Dude, we share our concerns, in fact I would like you to comment on Pocoyo... try that, my son loves that one, but I am still convern.

XenoMuta said...

sorry, I meant concern not convern...

Director Mitch said...

Well, let me say that this was posted in 2005 and it is now 2010, so my child is now 8.

Now that she is into Hanna Montana and other Disney "pre-teen" shows, I guess I will need to do a new post on those - but let's say for now that I think I am less thrilled than before....