Saturday, January 8, 2011


I'm increasingly concerned about the systematic media-centered dumbing down of Americans.  I don't think it's a conspiracy, nor that it's particularly deliberate (though, now that I think of it... hmm...) BUT it is happening.

Now, whether you agree with me may depend on how you define "dumb".  In this category, I include not only that which is painful to watch, but also those shows or movies that are poorly written, with nothing clever or intelligent in the dialogue or story, and those that are painfully poorly acted.  It takes a Grand Canyon-sized void of talent to create some of this stuff. 

I humbly submit exhibit A. The worst in children's television programming. In no particular order, (who can choose a worst from this list???): 10 shows for turning your naturally bright children into drooling, buck-toothed idiots, capable only of comprehending wit-free humor, or basic 3-Stooges slapstick (or, more appropriately, smackstick.):

1.  Barney.  The dinosaur.  You love him, he loves you, you know the story.  It's a feel-good show for kids who can't walk, and thus can't get away.  Watch a few minutes and you will feel your brain trying to escape through your ears...

Now, I'm all for kids learning to love themselves and I'm an even bigger supporter of kids learning music and especially life lessons set to music, but this is just mind-numbingly painful and fake.  The kids, cute as they are, aren't actors.  They're just everyday kids, reciting lines with melodramatic sincerity, wide eyes and nodding heads.

2. Yo Gabba Gabba.  Tell me what is the redeeming value of this drivel.  I came away from watching this feeling very sorry for the actors.  Were I a casting director, I would put their names on the never hire list.  And I wouldn't ever invite them to a party.  In my tummy.

Wow.  They aren't even trying with that flip-his-lips-over trick.  But I guess he does rock the striped spaghetti arms and Bert unibrow.

3. Boohbah.  Which I really thought was "Poobah" until looking for a clip for this blog.  Ugh.  I think this needs no explanation.  Especially since there are no words to describe this:

Speechless, right?  Well, if I could have found a clip from within an episode, your mind would be blown.  Don't thank me, it's all in a day's work.

4.  No list of this kind would be complete without the incomparable Teletubbies.  Seriously, what's with that baby-face sun?  Is that their God??  I understand that perhaps you are looking for a gentle, soft and tender show for your infant to watch on TV, but maybe your infant shouldn't be watching TV in the first place!

I can imagine the pitch meeting at which they decided to make this show.

Pitchman: "It'll have four chubby, flannel-covered beasts with Kewpie-doll faces and fake TV screens on their bellies, which will occasionally show clips of real children playing.  There will be a giant, squealing sun with the face of a baby, and a goofy vacuum cleaner that moves around their hobbit-inspired home in the ground... they'll sing, they'll dance, they'll hold hands, they'll giggle and mispronounce words.  Oh, and the big purple one will carry a purse." 

TV Exec: "Genius!"

5. Thomas the Tank Engine.  The one time my son watched this show, we both fell asleep.  I can't even fathom why it is so popular.  Not a hobo in sight.

So... I couldn't find a video for Thomas.  Okay, okay, I got sick of looking after about 3 minutes.  Even searching for Thomas on the internet is dull.

6.  Power Rangers.  There have been many incarnations of the Power Rangers. This is the best clip on the internet:
I think you see my point.

Okay, all kidding aside (this is serious business, after all), the Power Rangers was a TV show that involved horrendously fake special effects, terrible acting and the least-frightening TV monsters of all time.  As evidenced here in an epic battle between the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" and an unidentified evil robot wolf-thing.   I swear, it's like the writers were on drugs.  Or 6th graders. 

There are others.  I was going to make this a list of 10, but I've given up.  I don't feel so well after watching these clips. I left off Pokemon, though I should have included it... and the more modern "Hannah Montana" and "I Carly" and "Drake & Josh" shows make me want to pull my hair out.  They are asinine-- do we really want a whole generation of doctors, teachers, political leaders and community members who grew up watching "Drake & Josh"????  Ick.  It's just brainless goo. 

What do you think are the worst TV shows for kids-- that most kids watch?  Do you agree (in jest or seriously) that this is a systematic dumbing-down of our country, or do you think it's no worse than the entertainment that children had before TV?  Which was... what... radio shows?  Fighting with the neighbor boy?  Banging rocks together?

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