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for February 28, 2005

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On Dirty Ink Blots And Children’s TV...
By TeeCee

My favorite old joke has a patient visiting a psychiatrist and looking at some ink blot pictures. The patient indicates that every single ink blot reminds him of something to do with sex. The psychiatrist tells him, “I think that we have identified your problem – you’re obsessed with sex. The patient replies, “I’m obsessed with sex? You’re the one showing the dirty pictures.”
Although I am at risk of revealing some of my own dirty pictures, I ask you to consider this: Recently at my house we’ve become regular viewers of the PBS show “Zoom.” Not exactly by choice. It’s just that when your kid asks to watch something educational, a parent who wants to sleep at night can’t really say, “But dear, there are some talking turtles in masks kicking butt on channel 12.” The current incarnation is not like the “Zoom” when I was a kid, now it has a science focus with seven kids in their early teens carefully selected to represent various demographic groups playing games and solving science puzzles. But the problem is that watching the show as an adult reveals somewhat racy undertones that are a bit disturbing. We are talking about young kids here, so let’s do this as delicately as possible.

  • One concern is how often the kids are found lying on the floor in various positions. I’m just old enough to remember seeing pictures during the “love in” movement playing on TV. Knowing my family, it could only have been on the news – we weren’t allowed to watch CHiPs because mom thought it was too sexual. And even now the news is fond of covering big-city “cuddle” parties which present a similar visual. Often “Zoom” has their kids sprawled out on the floor and the resemblance is a bit uncanny. One game challenging players to spell out letters of the alphabet as fast as possible while lying on the floor would seem a sure hit for the fraternity party circuit.
    In another game, the kids were on the floor in a circle with their heads together and their legs up and then played a weird version of soccer. Pop several half-dressed, well-shaped 20-somethings into that picture and I think Larry Flynt would have a best-selling magazine on his hands. That is, if there were such a person as Larry Flynt and he had anything to do with magazines – I wouldn’t know about that.
  • Also of concern is the preponderance of water balloon games. Water balloons have been carried under necks in relay races, or held under armpits for jumping rope. And inevitably, the balloons break and we’re treated to a group of soggy bouncing kids. Sometimes it seems like the show is trying to turn into a public-funded wet T-shirt contest.
  • The secret language of “Zoom” is called ubbi-dubbi. Could that be a direct rip-off of Marilyn Monroe’s “oobie-doobie-do,” which is, of course, a euphemism for sex?
  • “Zoom” just changed seasons and from the previous season to the new one, only one cast member was held over and, well, how should I put this? – She took a crash course in puberty during the off-season and apparently passed. My son’s of an age where he noticed her new braces before her new everything else (that will last until he’s 40, right?) but the “Zoom” producers seem to have noticed.
    In the previous season I never saw cast members of either gender in skirts, but in the new season this particular cast member is often in short skirts and high heels. It’s as if the producers of “Zoom” have been personally charged to guarantee that males of the next generation will be leg men.
  • Finally, and probably most concerning, is a verbal game they play called Fannee Doolees. A typical Fannee Doolee segment might look like:
    Fannee Doolee likes jeeps but doesn’t like vehicles, how can that be?
    Fannee Doolee likes streets but doesn’t like roads, why do you think that is?
    Fannee Doolee likes noodles but doesn’t like pasta, how do you explain that?
    You get the idea – (or if not I can give it to you: Fannee Doolee likes words that have double letters in them but not words that don’t). The problem is that even if you’re watching Fannee Doolees with a copy of your holy book of choice in one hand and a picture of your grandparents in the other, Fannee Doolees go dirty.
    Fannee Doolee likes deep kisses but doesn’t like tongues, how can that be?
    Fannee Doolee likes hookers and call girls but doesn’t like prostitutes, why do you think that is?
    Fannee Doolee likes boobs and hooters, but doesn’t like breasts, how do you explain that?
    And Fannee Doolees can go much worse than this with very little effort. You’re doing it already, aren’t you?
Honestly, I’m not usually the dirty mind type.
Years ago I had to read an article for a film class about The Wizard of Oz. The author was arguing that the whole film was about Dorothy’s sexual awakening. Really! Didn’t you catch that taking the apples from the talking trees was really her sexual experimentation with the Scarecrow? And that the Wicked Witch’s entire motivation revolved around the onset of menopause? And don’t even get me started on why the ruby slippers or the sand in the hourglass at the witch’s castle were red. Trust me. Don’t ask.
Afterward I just wanted to find the author of that article, strap him into a chair with some “Little House on the Prairie” in the background and make him repeat, “Sometimes a cup-shaped flower in Munchkinland is just a cup-shaped flower in Munchkinland.” But I am a little worried about “Zoom”. If anyone on the cast starts wearing ruby shoes, we’re switching to Ninja Turtles.

©2005 TeeCee

All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.


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