Christmas (sort of) in July

So last night I was still not giving much of a shit about parenting or cleaning up like a slave or anything, so I decided my husband and I should watch a movie on Netflix to bide the time until we went to bed and began another night of trying to abuse each other with punches, kicks, and obscene noises in our sleep.

It ended up being the most amazing experience of my life. No hot actors. No steamy love scenes. Even still, words cannot adequately describe how wonderful it was. I will try.

10:15 pm

Poor Nick begins cruising through the Netflix Instant Que and – as usual – is suggesting we watch some weird shit like reruns of Twin Peaks. I don’t know what it is about that show that is so fucking weird – maybe the guy and his fucked up gum-chewing-slow-dancing-psychosis – but I am not interested. Ever.

I suggest we move out of our Instant Que and look for something that Netflix recommends.

10:30 pm

Fifteen minutes into looking through movies, we are still looking through movies. There are two things we do that are both laborious and exaggerated in how long it takes us to agree on something: decide where to go out to eat and pick a movie to watch on Netflix. It’s like it never fucking ends, but thankfully tonight we’ve moved onto what Netflix recommends for us rather than our Instant Que full of that weird Twin Peaks crap.

Pookies watched a lot of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (kill me, now) and Wonderpets on Netflix recently, so the top recommendations are children’s movies. I stop paying attention because I am growing overwhelming bored and check my Facebook on my Air Jordan. I hear Poor Nick mumbling under his breath and ignore it – as I usually do; although, I do catch when he says “why are they still recommending Christmas movies?”

I look up at the TV and begin to scream.

10:35 pm

On the screen is an image of my childhood: The Christmas Toy. I don’t have many memories from my childhood with my mom, since I only saw her a few times a year after she divorced my dad and moved across the country, but The Christmas Toy was one of them. Every year we would watch that movie and eat Chex Mix and actually have good times together (versus the rest of the time when she was a Trailer Trash Mom, hanging out in the local lounge trying to pick up men whilst I sat in a nearby booth).

Perhaps my all-time favorite kid’s Made for TV special, this is the Jim Henson version of toys that come to life at night. One of them (a stuffed tiger named Rugby) is unaccepting of the fact that he will not be the Christmas toy every year after his first and tries to go put himself under the Christmas tree.

After screaming, and then screaming a little more, I spend the next 10 minutes trying to convince Poor Nick to watch it.

10:45 pm

Poor Nick gives in. He begins the movie and within 30 seconds I am crying.

11:00 pm

Fifteen minutes in and I am holding Poor Nick’s hand so tightly he looks like he is in pain. He may possibly be in pain because watching children’s movies is pure torture to him; but it seems that he is writhing under my utter excitement. Regardless of this, I can’t stop – this is just so exciting to me.

When Mew – the stuffed mouse filled with catnip – comes onto the screen, I begin to coo. Poor Nick stands up and walks away. I continue to coo.

11:15 pm

Poor Nick returns after doing I do not know what (I also don’t care – The Christmas Toy is on the TV). “Are you still watching this junk?” he says and I grow offended that he would utter such atrocities about my Christmas Toy.

Rugby has made it to the Christmas tree at this point and is opening the Christmas present box so that he can get in it. He opens the box and Meteora comes out. Meteora is some sort of space queen Barbie doll, and she doesn’t know she is a toy yet. I squeeze Poor Nick’s hand again and start singing loudly the Meteora song. “Are you fucking insane?” he says and I continue to sing, even louder.

11:25 pm

After everyone has returned to the toy room, Mew is caught in the hallway by one of the parents. In the law of the toy room, if a toy is caught out of place by a human it is frozen forever. As I always do at this point, I gasp and hold my hands over my mouth – repeating “oh Mew!” over and over again (you can see how seriously I take this). Mew becomes frozen and Rugby goes to say his peace to his best friend, who has been thrown in the cat’s bed downstairs.

I begin to cry and Pookie walks out, still being awake because she thought she saw a ghost earlier. I catch her up on the story and she begins to cry also at Mew’s having been frozen.

Poor Nick looks at us like we’re complete idiots, but stays seated and I now believe he is as enraptured in The Christmas Toy as I am. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he was enraptured by what to do about his wife-gone-bonkers.

Rugby’s love for Mew is so moving that Mew comes back from being frozen. The two return to the toy room, a big song is sang, then Christmas morning Meteora and a second Mew join the room. Pookie and I are now sobbing uncontrollably.

11:35 pm

Pookie is back in bed and I grab the remote to give The Christmas Toy five stars (Poor Nick has given it two) as I dab my tears from my face and blow my nose. He takes the remote to get everything turned off for the night and I have forgotten to add The Christmas Toy to the Instant Que so that I can easily access it regularly to watch, so ask Poor Nick if he will add it.

“You want to continue to put yourself through this?” he asks, but doesn’t need an answer and puts it in the que, where it shows up right next to Twin Peaks on Recently Watched.

Like I said, clearly the most wondrous night of movie-going I’ve had in a long time. And people don’t think I have good taste in movies. Well you know what I say to them? You are lovely, Meteora. Yes, so lovely and smart and brave and strong. So exciting, Meteora. Even lightning bolts seem dull when you’re along. How can you say “bad taste” to a movie with song lyrics like that? Tears are forming in my eyes again now even, as I write this.

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Contemporary Children’s Programming: WTF?!

Um, so can I just say what most parents should be saying? Caillou is a little fucking pansy, and I want to stab the shit out of Dino Dan every time he opens his stupid, Canadian mouth.

What in the fuck happened to children’s programming in the last ten or fifteen years, for children under the age of around 8 – 10 that is? When I was growing up, TV was awesome. It was Rainbow Bright, Glow Worms, Popples. It was My Little Ponies and the Smurfs. Sure I watched all the girl’s shows, but there were other ones that boys watched too – like Tom and Jerry, Mickie Mouse, and Looney Toons.

Now, it’s as if contemporary children’s programming is so overly concerned about hurting sensitive feewy-weewings, and being politically correct; as well as not allowing any illusion to violence whatsoever on the TV (because God forbid we have to take responsibility for teaching our children not to be violent, rather than depending on the TV to do it…).

I now have a Contemporary Children’s Programming Shit List, and while I’m sure there are some moms out there changing their 10 year old son’s diapers that think Caillou is just the bees knees, I’m sure the majority of you really agree with me.

Caillou

Caillou is this little, bitchy, bald ass four year old cartoon character, whose every-other-word out of his mouth is “mommy.” I always imagine this show is written by a woman who still breastfeeds her fifteen year old son because it is a tale in pansy, momma’s boy behavior. Ultimately, Caillou would be an awesome show that teaches kids about every day things, if only Caillou and his little sister Rosie weren’t being helicoptered to death.

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig is (I believe) on the preschool channel – Noggin or Nick Jr. or whatever the hell it’s called now. It started as a short interlude between regular programming, but for some ungodly reason they decided to give it its own thirty minute time slot. Peppa Pig would be more tolerable if only those piggish mother fuckers didn’t snort and belch every couple seconds through the entire show. I get the idea of trying to make it “authentic,” but how authentic can a cartoon about anthropomorphic talking pigs be anyway? If they want it to be authentic, why not go all the way and have the pigs slosh around in their own shit and mud, laying around eating hay all day; rather than what the show really does, which is have these snorting, belching pigs out taking boating trips on their yachts and shit. Pigs on yachts – real values there.

Dino Dan

When Dino Dan comes on the television, I want to get ice picks and stab at my ears until I permanently damage my hearing so that I don’t have to ever hear stupid Dan and his unhealthy obsession with dinosaurs again. And what’s worse is that all the adults in the show enable Dan and his obsession – no matter what situation they are in, what they are doing, what they are learning in school, somehow Dan is always allowed to relate it to dinosaurs and completely derail what is going on into his weird imaginative love of the extinct beasts. Dino Dan teaches kids that it’s okay to have an unhealthy obsession that renders you entirely nonfunctional if not talking about that very obsession. Once I Googled “where’s Dino Dan’s dad” because he never appears on the show; and I found one discussion forum where the first poster said “who knows, probably abandoned Dan and his mom because he was too fucking annoyed by Dan and his stupid dinosaur journal.”

Good Luck Charlie

Yeah, sure – Charlie’s cute, Bridget Mendler is a great actor, and the slapstick comedy is a little more tolerable than the aforementioned shows. But has anyone actually noticed that Charlie has minimal roll in the show at all, not to mention this most recent stunt of the parents having another “accidental” pregnancy? Um, hi! Have we never heard of birth control, Disney channel? What does it say to a generation of little kids, when the world population is completely out of control and there are millions of orphaned children in need of loving homes, that the lovable sitcom Duncan family is on their way to having five kids? That’s +3 population growth – a concept I don’t expect most lovers of this show to understand, but is nonetheless an horrible example.

Ni Hao Kai Lan

The only thing cool about this Dora the Explorer knock off is that we all learn fragments of Mandarin Chinese while watching it. But it’s like the creators of the show sat down and said “okay, we want her to be just like Dora only Chinese, and her voice needs to be even more goddamned annoying than Dora’s, Boots’, and Tiko’s all were combined. In fact, imagine Dora, Boots, Tiko, and the Grumpy Old Troll all screaming at the top of their lungs and let’s make it even more fucking loud and annoying than that. And pointless, too. We know it’ll be hard to make it more pointless than a fucking singing backpack and a map that repeats the same stupid route to rainbow bridge over and over and over again, but we think we can do it with this little annoying Chinese chick.”

I’m sure there’s more. I can actually think of a few more, like Wow Wow Wubbzy (by the way, is Wubbzy a girl or a boy? or a transgender rounded cube that talks and has arms?) But these are really the cream of the crop in terms of annoying and stupid contemporary children’s programming. It’s sad that this is what it has been reduced to. A staple of childhood is watching your Saturday cartoons, or finishing your homework in time to watch that show you love more than the toy in the Cheerio’s box. I feel like mainstream media, bad parenting, and helicoptering of children has destroyed that; has made it this stupid, androgynous whiny and pointless shit that it’s become.

Toilet Humor

Okay, for real.  What is going on with people and their obsessions with the bathroom?  I see three arenas where this has become entirely out of control:

1) Jokes About Flatulence and Other Bathroom Incidences in Children’s Movies

The only thing worse than the level of jokes about flatulence in children’s programming and major motion pictures is when they break out the testicular humor.  But seriously, what kind of values can we possibly be teaching children when every other word out of the mouths of the characters that are to give them moral rigor is followed up with a “pull my finger” joke?

2) Flatulence and Other Related Sounds on Phone and Tablet Apps

I don’t know about you, but I did not buy my iPad, nor my HTC EVO, to put applications on them that can reproduce (at the most inopportune time) the loud sounds of activities normally reserved for the bathroom.  What is so funny about this?  I really don’t understand.  There was this woman that I used to work with that would eat about six deviled eggs every day at lunch.  The effects about an hour after she came back are obvious; but no one giggled and laughed like children when it happened.  In fact, we all did quite the opposite.  It made us act more professional and busy to avoid the inevitably awkward eye contact.

3) People’s Obsession With All-Things-Bathroom

Every day I check my site statistics to see who has been visiting my website, what they’ve been looking at, and how they’ve gotten here.  Included in the latter part is a list of search terms that led people to my site – search terms I often take amusement from.  More than anything, though, people are coming to my blog by searching things such as “hillbilly on toilet” and “old hillbilly on toilet.”  It’s my fault, really:  I started it all by blogging about hillbillies so often.  They are a popular subject it seems, not to mention a pet peeve of mine.  And to top it off, I have included one photograph of a hillbilly on his toilet outside, only because it was the first thing that came up when I searched in Google Images “hillbilly outside.”  But why are so many people searching this?  It is literally multiple searches, every single day!

When I began to look into it more, though, I learned it is more than just people’s obsession with hillbillies on toilets.  It’s people’s obsession with all people on toilets.  On YouTube, searching “on toilet” brings up literally thousands of responses – some of which are pranks, where a person was secretly filming another on the toilet; others are people just videoing themselves and uploading it (why?!); even one is someone that is making his own homemade talk show, filmed while he sits daily in the John:  “Toilet Talk With Catterton.”

What is it about toilet humor that is … well, so humorous?  Is this really the level of whit we have dumbed ourselves down to?  I’m all for a dirty joke or two once in a while – but this toilet talk is just out of control.  To me, this is just another sign that our culture is becoming stupider and stupider; and that in our culture of excess, we overdo everything – even our toilet humor.  It would be wonderful if I could see a kid’s movie just once that doesn’t include anal jokes; or walk through the mall to get my rings cleaned and pick up my makeup at Sephora without hearing those ridiculous apps echoing throughout the entire shopping center.  I get it:  people think it’s funny.  A lot of people in this world are rednecks, and rednecks love the synthesis of their two favorite things:  jokes and toilets.  I understand completely.  But at this level?  Seriously?

Oh, the irony

Here’s something ironic for you:  when growing up, I would constantly roll my eyes and scoff at my parents for saying that cartoons were too violent, and that TV had a negative influence on my behavior.  Routinely, I snuck around to watch shows like Ren and Stimpy.  Why would they air those on kid’s channels if they weren’t OK for kids to watch, right?  Flash-forward to now, and the disturbing irony has unfolded, as with children around I now understand that the profound impact TV really does have on our kids.

But in this there is something very serious to think about, that being the values that are conveyed through children’s TV shows.  When I was growing up, it was the violence of Tom and Jerry and Ren and Stimpy that parents lashed out against.  Violence was the evil in the world that kids were learning from these anthropomorphic cartoon animals that thrashed, maimed, and demolished each other one, glorious episode after another.  And while violence is still a problem in children’s programming (particularly cartoons), what I find more disturbing now are the values being set forth by the sitcoms being aired on Disney, Nickelodeon, and the like.  Alex Russo in Wizards of Waverly Place teaches children to be snarky, negative, and outright disrespectful of authority (including her parents).  Sam in iCarly teaches children to be similar to Alex, and to take it a step further by asserting themselves through physically violent to get what they want.  This slap-stickesque humor is used as a means to entertain, but in doing so it is teaching our children that such behavior is OK, even admirable.

After decades of outcry from parents and action groups, the TV networks that air such controversial programming just continue to air it, despite concerns abroad.  This, I believe, is inexcusable.  Whereas when I was growing up, a general sense of violence was the problem parents saw on the television their children watched; now, it goes a step beyond the violence to our values that have become skewed for our children by the television programming we allow them to watch.  But who is worse?  The networks for producing and airing the shows?  Or us for watching them?