Monday, June 30, 2008

Today's Post Brought To You By The Letter P

One of the many side effects of having kids is that I know the theme songs to all the major kids shows. Dora, Dora, Dora the explorer. Boots and super cool explorer Dora. You didn't think I was going to back that statement up? From Arthur and Barney to Wonder Pets and Zaboomafoo, my kids like them all. Thankfully, most of them have cd's of their songs so we can take the fun anywhere. I've actually caught myself driving down the road while singing along to the Backyardigans songs coming from my radio. The disturbing part is that the kids weren't in the car with me. Kind of embarrassing when you get out the car at work still singing "A Pirate Says Arr". I'm going to go out and a limb though and assume I'm not the only one who's ever done that.

In watching these shows with my kids I've noticed a few things. For starters, if there's a bear as one of the main characters then the show sucks. Little Bear, the Berenstain Bears, Corduroy Bear, I don't enjoy any of them. It's apparently impossible for a cartoon bear to sing a catchy song. Perhaps this is just my own hidden bear prejudice coming to the surface; in which case I think The Colbert Report has more influence over me than it probably should. Another thing I've noticed is there's a fine line between good examples of using your imagination and what appears to be something some dude came up with while high. Backyardigans, fun and educational example of imagination. Toopy and Binoo, drug induced hallucinations that have been animated. Oh and Pocoyo, some kid in a totally white setting playing with a bunch of animal friends including a pink elephant while some omnipitent voice narrates everything for him. That's obviously some crazy kid in a mental ward having a schizophrenic break from reality. I have to admit when I put it that way it does sound entertaining though.

I am thankful though that there are no commercials on Treehouse. They have the decency not to try and market stuff hardcore to the preschool crowd. I made the mistake of watching a show intended for older kids one day with my oldest. The show wasn't inappropriate but I couldn't believe the toy company propaganda they pass off as commercials. Thirty second of being told how amazing the latest Barbie or remote controlled car was and guess what she wanted? All I could say was "that does look awesome". Took me back to when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons. Wearing my Spider-Man pj's, I'd get a bowl of Pac-Man cereal and watch the Smurfs with my sister. For quite a while she'd be sitting on an egg from the fridge. She thought she could get it to hatch if she sat on it so that's how she spent her Saturday mornings. It's how she spent a lot of her time actually. She got so excited the day she heard it start to crack. That quickly turned to disappointment when she realised she'd just shifted her weight and broke the egg. Nothing sadder than a heartbroken five year old with yolk all over her butt. In my opinion, there aren't a lot of things funnier than that either.

Anyways, did I have a point to all this? I forget. All I know is I'm far more concerned about the influence commercials have on kids than what they learn from the actual shows. People got all bent out of shape about Sesame Street's examples. Cookie Monster teaches kids bad habits, Bert and Ernie and gay. What a bunch of crap. First off, he's a monster, he's not supposed to set a good example. On top of that, cookies are delicious. As for Bert and Ernie's lifestyle choice, it's a kids show, everyone seems kind of gay. I don't think either of those is nearly as harmful as what they see in toy ads. Maybe that's just me though.

One more thing while I'm on the topic of kids shows. For the record, Mr. Dressup was far superior to Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers kept some weird kingdom of puppets captive in his wall and his constant changing of clothes just scream OCD to me. The only bad thing I can say about Mr. Dressup is that he apparently didn't teach Casey fine motor skills. He had the tickle trunk though so it all evens out.

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