Sunday, April 13, 2008

Think of the Children!

Given it is Sunday, which is supposedly the sixth day of the political week, I'm going to do a non-political post (sort of) and write about the utter surreal nature of Children's television. If you have a child you will know what I mean because you know doubt have to watch CBeebies which contains some gems of overt political correctness and diversity.

Take for example, Storymakers. The premise is pretty simple, two muppet-like puppets live in a library and every night they make stories with the help of a person in the form of people called such things as Shelly Wordsworth or Byron Wordsworth. Both Shelly and Byron are black, which isn't in itself a bad thing I should stress, but the stories they 'create' are almost invariably littered with politically correct subtext.

One of the character is Blue Cow. A cow that is blue. She is instantly defined as "different" from the rest because she "wonders". Blue Cow will go off on adventures to places and the other "normal" cows will dismiss her tales with the line "everyone knows that cows can't do X" followed by "but we know they can don't we?".

There is, without a doubt, a very subtle subtext playing out here about how ones colour and ones action are mutually exclusive. From a purely a scientific view that is largely accurate, the problem is that when put together as a whole package, the show just scream political message throughout. Then we get on to Balamory.

Ahhh Balamory, if you know then I hope I have put the theme tune in your head for the day, if you don't, then count your blessing. The show is set on a remote Scottish island and revolves around the teacher of a school Miss Hooley and the other people there. The weirdness comes with the characters though.

We have, as it was pointed out to me by a friend, a lesbian disabled couple that run the local sweet shop. Then there is the perpetual bachelor Archie who lives alone in a pink castle, wears a pink kilt, sings a lot whilst inventing things. Then there is butch Edie who just loves to drive and fix her minibus. The local policeman is PC ["sugar"] Plum who is as camp as Christmas, and being chased by the teacher Miss Hooley who is obviously a "fag hag" but doesn't quite know it. All very strange.

We probably shouldn't mention Lazy Town either, which is surreal at the best of times, but, as the same friend pointed out to me, is essentially where the basic conceit is that there are two paedophiles, a "good" nonce, Sportacus; and an evil child molester, Robbie Rotten. Who are both competing for the affections of an 10 year old girl called Stephanie.

Finally though we have my all time favourite The Wiggles. I defy anyone to watch the following video and not (a) find it terribly creepy (b) wonder what Class A chemicals had been consumed, and (c) honestly say that if you saw any of them hanging outside a school you wouldn't be surprised. I mean "Get ready to wiggle, wiggle will make you big and strong?"

Weird huh?

Update: Picture of Stephanie added for Guido (see comments). Apparently she was 15 when it was made.


Elby the Beserk said...

Best TV for small kids Dizzy? None. They really do NOT need it.

Anonymous said...

It's a while since I've seen Balamory but I remember it as being set on a remote Scottish island with every minority you could think of being represented in the show except the indigenous Gaelic one.

I've also just looked at your link to the Balamory site where you can click on the "Stories" link to get a story called "Nessie Story" where the Scottish accented narrator continually refers to "Lock Ness". To a Scot it's the equivalent of the noise of fingernails on a blackboard. Obviously Scots are not minority enough to have their place names pronounced correctly.

Croydonian said...

And just to think that the Wigglers had to study Greek drama (probably and get an Equity card (definitely) in order to do that.

Re Balamory, note that there are NO white English people among the cast. Or so I have been told.

dizzy said...

Nah mate, there are white people in the cast, but in most cases they are part of some other victim group.

Anonymous said...

Dizzy, thanks for this post. I'm glad that I'm not the only one totally creeped out by Lazy Town. Balamory is pretty bad, but it's nothing on Me Too! (same concept, but in a peculiar pseudo-city featuring landmarks from London, Cardiff, Newcastle, Edinburgh and others). However, I quite like Justin/Mr. Tumble - I think it's quite nice that they actually make an entertaining kids program that's heavily based in sign language. I also only have great heaps of praise for Lauren Child's work in Charlie & Lola.

I'd love to hear you do a similar analysis of In The Night Garden, though... I'm pretty certain Upsy Daisy is Jamaican on the screen, but my daughter's toy is most definitely fair-skinned. As for Iggle Piggle and Makka Pakka, I don't know what the hell is going on there!

John Trenchard said...

Lazy Town uses reverese psychology to promote fruit'n'veg.. carrots are "good stuff", while the Robbie Rotten sweets are bad stuff. oh well -it worked for my 3 year old anyway.

have to agree though that Balamory is bizarre - i do note that not a single reference to Scottish Gaelic culture, or its opposite - Scottish Protestant loyalism - is made.

Trixy said...

Not a patch on Mr Benn (although potentially odd subliminal messages there) and button moon

I was going okay with thr wiggling sone until the large dog and the purple clothed octopus came on and started dancing.

Guido Fawkes said...

I have the hots for Stephanie from LazyTown, no way is she 10.

Sportacus is very popular with yummy mummies according to the Times' Alpha Mummy blog.

John Trenchard said...

stephanie is 17, but she was about 15 when she did lazytown. so tut tut guido - a tad underage there methinks.

and sportacus is an icelandic champion gymnast, by the name of Magnus Orn Scheving. no wonder he's popular with the yummy mummies.

lazytown's ethos is laudably much better than the P.C. crap of balmory - teaches kids about eating right, doing exercise, and such like. rather than shoving P.C. bollocks into their minds. well, that figures -it's privately funded and is not from the BBC.

Baldwin said...

I think it was Times journalist Alice Miles who wrote about 'In the Night Garden'. One of the characters is the Pinky Ponk, which is a fantasy airship. She said Alistair Darling made as much sense as the Pinky Ponk.

Sounds about right.

Nevo said...

re the Wiggles video
Still it's nice for us oldies to see that "The Twist" is on the way back!

Anonymous said...

One thing that winds me up beyond all rational...
Please could somebody teach the Josie Jump actress how to throw a rugby ball.
(Caveat - happily my kids have outgrown Balemory now so this might have been fixed - though somehow I doubt it)

Antony said...

When I wrote about the PC nonsense on Balamory some time ago I was accused of racism in my comments section; inaccurate accusation and a pity, because they missed the whole point that I thought that realism (something that children can associate with) was more important than PC social indoctrination.

Anonymous said...

An alternative strategy: forget contemporary television altogether and raise your offspring with the help of BBC News 24 (my three-year old thinks PMQs are hilarious and roars along with the best of them) and DVDs of ancient children's programmes: Trumpton, Clangers, Ivor the Engine etc.

Of course there's plenty to worry about in terms of the implicit politics, too, but at least you get the fun of explaining for the benefit of a toddler such archaic concepts as coal mining, the space race and of course the unapologetic and apparently well-functioning feudal order that was Chigley.

Anonymous said...

In my experience these T’s & C’s were probably copied from another website by the designer and nobody bothered to read them to understand if they applied.

Looking through the site it is a typical example of a website that fails. Poor usability and some accessibility issues are evident on all the pages.

Once more the designer has reinvented the wheel!

Anonymous said...

that photo of stephanie has got to be a photoshop.

Mof0 said...

Paedo Fawkes?

The Secret Person said...

jules - it is a good job Guido is not a politician, the headlines write themselves. To slightly invert your headline, should people who enjoy his blog be called guidophiles?