Why Is Canadian Children's Television Trying To Kill Me?
I may have said this here before - in fact, I'm certain that I *have* said something like this here before - but I think that Canada has really been pretty awesome at producing children's programming for television (producing children's music is another story altogether. I'll just say that I'm grateful that I had my children a decade or two past the prime of Sharon, Lois and Bram.) Mr. Dressup, The Friendly Giant: these are classic children's television programs. Canonical even. Right up there with Sesame Street and Schoolhouse Rock. No, I'm not kidding. They maybe weren't flashy shows; they maybe didn't have their fingers on some pulse of hipness (we are talking about Canada, after all) - but they were simple and effective and sweetly heartwarming in a way that was both completely unironic and uncreepy (as opposed to say, Mr Rogers, who is entirely creepy and only comprehensible through an ironic lens.) They were perfect Canadian children's shows, and I am proud to be part of the culture that produced them.
Judy and David, on the other hand...
Judy and David are a Toronto-based duo who refer to themselves as 'Canada's Sing-Along Superstars.' They have a television show, which airs on Treehouse. It appears to have been conceived and shot sometime in the late 80's - or after somebody spent a drunken night watching clips of MC Hammer and Fly Girls on YouTube - and it is the closest thing to unwatchable that I have ever seen.
Don't believe me?
Yep. That would be Judy and David. I don't understand it either. Why, for example, do they have a boombox? Does anyone still have a boombox?* Why, if one was going to have a boombox, would one select one that seems to have been barfed up from the bowels of hell? Why are they dressed like backup dancers from an all-Christian early 90's dance troupe? (All the more confusing for the fact that they are Jewish.) Why is David pretending to have some sort of learning/attention disorder? Does Judy have a perm, or is that really her hair?
Here's the thing: the Judy and David show - which I think is actually called Judy and David's Boombox, in honour of their magical boombox from hell - is not some re-run from the nineties. It is entirely contemporary. Judy and David are producing their show, as we speak, from some godforsaken soundstage in Toronto and plotting their Pigmania World Ontario Tour (so not joking). In their vests and Hammer pants. With their boombox.
Why is it that so much children's programming/children's music/children's entertainment have to be so freaking terrible? Why does it so often skew folksy/musical theater? Does no-one remember Johnny Cash singing Nasty Dan to Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street? Why is it so often assumed that children respond best to bad, soulless music and awkward, grooveless, white-person dancing? I would wonder if this were a Canadian thing, except for this: BARNEY. Also: Jack Johnson. (*ducks*)
Could somebody explain this to me, please? We know that children are happy to watch Sesame Street (Feist has done Sesame Street, people. And did I mention? JOHNNY CASH) and Yo Gabba Gabba. Why would anyone say to themselves, self? You know what children want? Vests! And boomboxes! And nineties-inspired campfire music that you can dance to while wearing... vests!
Maybe it's just me, crabby bitch that I am. If it is, and the future of children's entertainment - and my television - holds more of this shit, then maybe just put me out of my misery now.
*Yes, I know: DJ Lance has a boombox. But it is an ironic boombox, and one that is filled with little robots and monsters and occasionally Elijah Wood, and, also, he is DJ Lance. He can get away with that shit.
This is an original post to Canada Moms Blog. Catherine Connors blogs at Her Bad Mother, where she tries to convince anyone who will listen that bad is, indeed, the new good.