September 09, 2003

POLL: Annoying Children's Television Characters

If I were a good mother, I wouldn't even know about any of the following, because my son wouldn't watch any television. Yeah, right. I'm on familiar terms with more of these characters than I'd care to mention.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at September 9, 2003 10:30 PM

the entire cast of "zoom" should be removed on the grounds of affected hyperactivity. in my last year of living in the midwestern town where i went to grad school, my wife and i only could get PBS. no matter how hard i tried to avoid writing the thesis by watching the boob tube, "zoom" would basically force me back to the diss. maybe i should have thanked "zoom" in my acknowledgments section...

Posted by: better left nameless at September 9, 2003 10:56 PM

It's really not Caillou's fault. It's his parents who constantly indulge the little whiner...

I guess I should mention at this point that I'm the proud father of 4. Ages: 11, 7, 3, 1.5

Posted by: AccidentalAdmin at September 10, 2003 01:22 AM

These characters don't annoy me; all are frequent guests in my house. It's hard not to feel good when my son demands I sing Barney's "I love you" song with him at the conclusion of each episode.

Posted by: Kevin Walzer at September 10, 2003 09:16 AM

Heh heh heh.

On the living-room wall over my sofa there is a wall-hanging whose dominant color is a (fairly muted) purple.

Ever since we bought it, we've called it "the Barney skin."

Posted by: Dorothea Salo at September 10, 2003 09:49 AM

Elmo by far is one of the worst creations ever to come out of the PBS franchise. Barney is at least mellow, if not overly optimistic.

Posted by: Cat at September 10, 2003 10:59 AM

Anyone remember the tempest in a teapot about the Tickle-Me Elmo? About how he kept saying "No" to his tormentor, who was supposed to keep tickling him anyway?

Posted by: Rana at September 10, 2003 12:26 PM

When our first daughter was born, we disliked Barney, because as liberals we were supposed to. Elmo was the superior, Rosie-O'Donnell-endorsed choice. Then, when our second daughter was born, we realized all that was junk. Fact is, all kids need out of TV is something wonderful and different to distract them the demands of learning how to live, and perhaps some characters to talk with them on their own level every once in a while. The "messages," if there are any, are probably irrelevant, or at least will be if the parents take their roles seriously. Limit television, sure; we try to keep it to around 90 minutes a day or less. But picking and choosing programs for them? Let them do that. If they think Caillou's cool, more power to them.

Posted by: Russell Arben Fox at September 10, 2003 06:04 PM

As far as I'm concerned, it's all about context. Barney, Caillou, and their ilk belong on shows which have been crafted around them. Elmo turned up on my own childhood favorite, Sesame Street, and spread like a goddamn virus. Time was, I could watch SS for awhile with enjoyment, even as an adult. Now you go five minutes and there's Elmo squeaking at you. I want to see the episode where Elmo imagines Dorothy is a shark and she tears him into fuzzy little pieces in a feeding frenzy.

Er, not that I'm bitter or anything.

Posted by: Naomi Chana at September 11, 2003 12:12 AM

What about those vaguely obscene teletubbies? "Oh no, naughty noo noo."

Posted by: Anonymous at September 11, 2003 10:36 AM

I don't have kids, but I love the drugged-out daze of the Teletubbies. A prelapsarian acid-trip: That friendly sun reminds me of some times when we . . . well, I'd better not talk about that. The Brits are so much better at this sort of thing than we are.

Posted by: Joseph at September 11, 2003 08:43 PM

This thread cannot pass without some mention of Bananas Gorilla from Richard Scarry. There.

Posted by: kb at September 15, 2003 02:22 PM

I don't mind Caillou so much (he's a lot like other 4-year-olds I know) but I can't stand Barney. The main things I don't like about him are (A) he's happy ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME and (B) he sings dumb made-up lyrics to tunes I'm trying to teach my kids the real words to. (Bad grammar! Bad, bad grammar!) I've seen classrooms where teachers were a lot like Sesame Street, but if I ever met a teacher that was like Barney, I'd have to shoot her to keep the world safe.

My kids don't watch Teletubbies either. But then again, my "baby" is 3 1/2 now.

On the flip-side, there's Thomas the Tank Engine. At first I didn't like Thomas the Tank Engine because (A) few of the Thomas videos seemed to feature Thomas himself except in passing mention, and (B) Thomas and the other engines were not the best role models for kids-- didn't display various values such as courage, obedience, etc. that we expect in our heroes. They were by and large cowardly, made snarky remarks to each other, and kept inexplicably getting themselves into situations they did not have the experience to deal with. However, after a while I realized that (A) is an advantage (since Thomas is one of the least mature of the engines) and (B) is actually not a bad thing, given that my son by nature is a lot like those engines, sometimes adventurous, sometimes afraid of change, and always disobeying and learning things the hard way. The engines eventually do get over their fears and peccadilloes and go past their strained personal relationships to work together in a society. Much more like real life than Sesame Street with its contrived multiculturalism.

Posted by: Sarah at September 18, 2003 08:34 AM