Sunday, February 19, 2006
Trying to extinguish Elmo's fire
My husband believes that Aussie quartet “The Wiggles” rise in popularity with the preschool set is directly related to boredom level of Gen-X mommies who are sick of purple dinosaurs and want a little “eye candy” with their morning coffee.
I’d like to indulge him in this way of thinking merely because I desperately want to believe that I have some influence over our Ittybit’s preferences, but experience tells me it’s just not true.
In the ways of children’s entertainment I had figured I would be a natural: I loved both versions of Pixar’s “Toy Story;” I couldn’t wait to collect all of the toys from the McDonald’s Happy Meals (way back in 1995); and I’ve anxiously waited in line, regardless of the weather, for every major Walt Disney release since “The Rescuers.”
So I ask you? Who better to select the soundtrack for the car?
I choose hip bands from my college days that are now adding children’s music to their discographies — They Might Be Giants, Bare Naked Ladies’— as our travel soundtrack. I bop along to “La, La, La, Lemon” and try to get her hooked on anthems of my early youth, Schoolhouse Rock!, but few of my selections have ever caught her fancy.
She listens for a while, as if to humor me, and then calls for the Wiggles and their dreadfully addictive song, “Big Red Car.” The melody will haunt me all day.
I don’t even know where the CD came from or who put it in my car. This mystery has replaced the single-sock disappearances from the clothes dryer phenomenon that had served as my proof that aliens surely exist.
I had hoped that she would be a kid that bucks the trends, but in addition to her ineffable love of peas on ice cream, she is also an Elmo and Ernie groupie, destined to be the president of the Barney fan club and a staunch supporter of Teletubbies’ Tinky Winky. This is just more evidence, in my mind, that Barbie is an inescapable part of our future.
The trend to make children’s entertainment more hip for moms and dads who are missing their mosh pit days is something of which I wholly approve, especially when it’s done well. Any songs that use the words “Akimbo” and “Gavotte” or make me think of all the words I know that begin with the letter “L” are just my blend of tea.
Even though I love PBS and think it does a fine job with most of its programming, I can’t help but get riled on the instances when Elmo uses words incorrectly. The argument that Baby Bear’s lisp teaches tolerance drives me over the edge. “For what? Incorrect pronunciation?” I growl at the television .
One rainy Saturday I happened to catch a particularly interesting installment of Sesame Street, where Elmo had turned into the Muppet version of David Letterman. (For the record: both a leaf and an apple float but a rock does not).
For a brief moment, I could overlook his cloying voice and insistence on referring to himself in the third person. And suspending disbelief for even a few minutes means that somewhere down the road there is hope for Stupid Monster Tricks and a Top Ten List from the home office in Oscar’s trashcan.
Now that might even be worth sending The Wiggles back Down Under.
Posted by toyfoto at 2:20 PM