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Cameron's House of Fun

Fatherhood, politics, education, random thoughts (heavy on the random thoughts) and stuff (always stuff).

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hip Hop Harry Must Die or Why must the bad kids shows be so very very very bad?

After 3.5 years as a Dad I've worked out some things:
  1. Diapers are honestly no big deal. There will be some you'll talk about years from now, but they are nothing.
  2. Parenting is hard work.
  3. Your love for your kid knows pretty much no bounds
  4. A wide variety of children's shows would qualify as the worst possible crap on TV.
Let's look at #4 shall we?

I've worked out a rule of threes for this. Basically there are three broad categories of kids shows (I'm into lists today):
  1. Ones that have something for everyone, the kids, the parents, random visiting friends.
  2. Ones that are still good, but are aimed exclusively at the kids.
  3. Ones that fucking well suck.
So, category #1 includes things like Peep and the Big Wide World (Joan Cusak as the narrator, Taj Mahal theme song!), Charlie and Lola (cool art, English accents, all round coolness) Magic School Bus (LILLY TOMLIN! - honestly that's all I have), George Shrinks (the art! OMFG THE ART! Plus the Dad's instruments), Koala Brothers (It's just so damn nice and cute) and This is Daniel Cook (best. job. ever. And he's like 8... bastard!). We catch ourselves watching these shows when Lucas is in bed.

Category #2 includes shows like Hi-5 (they sing, they dance, THEY NEVER SHUT UP, but it appeals to Lucas), Teletubbies (I don't get it, you don't get it, but your 3 year old does, move on, nothing to see here) and Wonder Pets (Ok, so I kind of like this one, but only for the theme song - The Phone! The phone is ringing!!!).

Category #3 is, sadly, the category that in my mind dominates the kids show landscape, if not due to sheer tonnage of shit, but because these shows are so loud, so obnoxious, so very very tied to marketing that the just about crush and destroy everything in their path. In this category I'm forced to put Bigfoot (huge ass animated monster trucks. It's loud. It's stupid. It's so fucking obvious as to hurt your face. Note the corporate sponsors on the site.), Todd's World (Imagine you wrote a lesson that you wanted to teach your child on a piece of paper. Imagine you used a lot of colours. Then imagine you wrapped the piece of paper around a sledge hammer and then beat your kid with it. This is Todd's World).

Towering over these examples, over everything else on the air really, is Hip Hop Harry. Before I even mention the show, I'd like you to click that link. Look over at the parents icon on the right. Subtle eh? How the info sequenced for parents is represented by a shopping cart? Sadly things go down hill from here.

Let's leave aside the fairly overt, and yet subtle and muted, cultural appropriation/whitewashing bearwashing, the annoyingly focus grouped children who dance through out the show etc and focus on Harry himself. In the song The New Style, the Beastie Boys rapped that they had "the kind of voices that are in your face". If this is true, then Harry has the kind of voice that rolls up to you, tears your face off, saut├ęs it, eats it, pukes it out, reassembles it, puts it back on and then kicks you in the nuts. Insipid, screeching, inane, monotone... these are but a few of the words that begin to describe it. Add to that what I believe is meant to be a retro 80s look and you have, dare I say it, a heir to the purple dinosaur that haunted 90s era parents worst nightmares.

Lucas can make it through about 10 seconds of Harry before he turns to me and says "Papa, this is garbage, is there something else on?" If there isn't, and at that hour there is only Arthur (a kids show so stupifiyingly boring that Lucas refuses to watch it), he asks that the TV get turned off.

Samples of the wonderment that is Harry can be found in the last minute of each show "You say Good! I say Bye!". Were that I were joking. I could go on and on about this show. But really, haven't I already scarred you enough?

An after thought:
Honestly I go back and forth about where to categorize Go Diego Go and Dora. They are educational without being overly obvious, they aren't hideous to look at, but they are so damn loud that I think they are a 2 verging on a 3.

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