There. I’ve said it. And if you watched Nickelodian’s Noggin channel (it’s repository for Nick’s Nick Jr. content), you’d feel the same way.
While I do like Noggin much more than Sprout (PBS’s cable/satellite channel for children’s programming), the only show I like on Discovery Kids is Peep and The Big Wide World (I think I like the theme song, performed by Taj Mahal, most) and Toon Disney never finds its way onto my tv screen (Disney = Devil), there are a few shows that either scare me…or make me scratch my head.
I like a lot of Noggin’s programming. Backyardigans is my favorite (mostly because The Kid gets up and dances along with it), and I loooove Little Bill. Maggie and the Ferocious Beast; top marks. Oswald gets a vote from me too.
Then you have shows like Max and Ruby, which features two bunnies of the approximate ages of 3 and 7 (respectively) and their day to day adventures. What’s wrong with this? Max and Ruby have no parents. All their friends have parents, and there are adults who occasionally drop by, but Max and Ruby’s parents are never, ever, around. This leaves Ruby in charge of her little brother Max. They run errands together by catching the bus (I don’t even want to know how Ruby gets bus fare). They do have a grandmother, but she lives on the other side of town, which means taking the bus there too. Now and then Ruby mentions their mother, usually in reference to something else to explain a situation (i.e. “Mother said we have to spend the day and Grandmother’s house.”). Beyond that, Max and Ruby are on their own. Don’t they have laws against that in their little bunny world?
Then you have shows like Franklin and Little Bear. For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with these shows. Maurice Sendak (Where The Wild Things Are) illustrated Little Bear so, really, you can’t put too much of a knock on it. And I actually do like these shows. The head scratching comes in when they start talking about pets. See, Franklin and Little Bear are largely centered around anthropomorphic animals, though Little Bear does feature two human characters. I’ve never understood how animal cartoon characters can have pets. Isn’t that sort of akin to slavery? Franklin’s best friend is a snail, yet Franklin has been known to own a fish. Little Bear has a friend named Cat (who is a cat, duh), yet Emily, the human friend, owns a dog for a pet (the dog, unlike Little Bear and Cat, cannot talk).
Then there’s Yo Gabba Gabba. This show…it scares me. I can not express how much it scares me, but it does. If you have seen it, you’d be scared too. It’s like HR Pufnstuf toned down and without the (obvious) drug references.
It featurers five Pufnstuf-esque creatures that are meant to be like puppets manipulated by a “puppet master” named DJ Lance Rock, who is a skinny black guy in a bright orange, and very tight, jumpsuit, with an equally bright orange fuzzy hat and 80’s Run DMC style glasses. Part of me wanted to scream racism when I first saw the show. But I also knew that would be totally false. There’s nothing even minutely racist about the show. It’s just the fact that a skinny black guy clad, head to toe, in bright orange scares me for some inexplicable reason. The show features music, “dancing” (there are people in those suits, you really can’t call hopping from foot to foot while waving your arms wildly dancing…unless you’re white….KIDDING!), the occasional “guest” (Elijah Wood [HOBBITSES!] and Biz Markee have made appearances) and life lessons for the 3-5 year old set (like sharing, and not biting others).
One of their more disturbing skits deals with eating. One or all of the creatures gather around for meal time and start singing “There’s a party in my tummy!” and, out of nowhere, the food on the plate grow faces and respond “SO YUMMY! SO YUMMY!” They then call out the name of each food (or drink) before “eating” it. Once eaten you get an inside view of the creature’s stomach so you can see the food “partying”. I should mention that the food is completely intact, which means it was swallowed whole with no chewing involved. This includes items like chicken legs. The other day, while watching this show (actually I was walking by the tv while The Kid was watching it and was forced to stop and stare…there’s something about that show that makes you do that) I disovered one of the creatures actuall has THREE stomachs.
Inevitably, the creatures leave some bit of their food on the plate, and as they walk away the food begins to cry. The creatures walk back and ask the food why it’s crying only to get the reply “We want to go to the party! The party in your tummy!” (suicidal food?), and they are rewarded by being gulped down in the same fashion as all the other food was.
Don’t believe me? Watch this:
See what I mean? SCARY STUFF! Honestly, who the hell thought this was a good idea?
So, yeah…Noggin programming is scary stuff man.