As parents, we need to get used to the idea that we’ll never really understand why our kids enjoy the things that they do. Luckily, long before we start scratching our heads over the pop songs that our teenagers insist are the greatest music of all time, children’s television breaks us in hard, delivering some of the most outwardly unappealing shit imaginable.
But kids love this garbage!
In a previous post, I took a look at Peppa Pig. If I’m being completely honest, Peppa Pig is a pretty good show. It’s occasionally very funny and has a solid sense of micro-narrative and character development, even if Peppa herself is a bit of a monster. It’s also responsible for North American toddlers developing hilarious English accents. I mean, it’s no Bluey, but it’s fine.
Then there’s The Wiggles, or more accurately, Ready Steady Wiggle.
The Wiggles are an Australian musical group aimed at children, who have apparently been around since the 90s. The current iteration of the group only has one of the original members, and I’m not going to talk at all about whatever The Wiggles were. The current Wiggles are… uh… enough.
The Ready Steady Wiggle program functions as a scattershot variety show designed to showcase the various Wiggles’ talents and to stretch out a relatively small pool of material to ridiculous lengths. It is very rare to see an episode of this show that doesn’t feature segments lifted from other episodes that you’ve seen, even if you’ve barely seen any. As a consequence, you hear all of their songs at least twice as frequently as you might otherwise, and they burrow themselves into your subconscious like some kind of colourful Australian ingrown toenail.
There seems to be a loose narrative thread in each episode, but we’re talking loose. Like, “Purple Guy is having a nap”. That’s the whole narrative thrust of one of the episodes. Not only that, but the fact that Purple Guy loves to sleep is already beaten into the ground in every other episode to the point where using it as a plot point seems pretty lazy.
Purple Guy loves to sleep. That’s his defining character beat. They all have one. His is actually maybe the most interesting?
Blue Guy likes to eat food. Yep. That’s his character. They get a lot of mileage out of… Blue Guy liking to eat food.
Yellow Lady wears a bow on her head. Yep. The one female character is reduced to a cosmetic feature. It’s not even something she does. It’s something she wears on her head. That’s her personality. Yellow bow.
Red Guy likes to sing. They all sing, but the Red Guy makes that his whole personality for some reason. Specifically he can sing very low. Which he really can! It’s still not what I would call a compelling thing to hang your whole sense of self on.
The show is really just a vehicle for music videos and live performances of about a dozen original tunes and a bunch of old standard children’s songs. And some of the laziest puns I’ve ever heard.
Most of the original tunes are deeply stupid. They’re usually just lyrics about driving around in a big red car while Emma has a bow on her head. Some of them are undeniably hooky, though. You will sing them without realizing it and you’ll hate yourself for it. You may start to wonder who you’re becoming. It doesn’t matter. It’s your job to surrender to this.
Of the four Wiggles, the Yellow Wiggle (Emma) is the only one that sells it as a natural children’s performer, with the Purple Wiggle (Lachy) coming in a distant second. The other two men seem ludicrously out of place. If you watch the show, just look at their expressions. Cover up their smiling mouths and just look at their eyes. Not smiling at all!
They have the eyes of someone whose body is under the control of someone else, and you can kind of see their true selves trapped inside, banging at the insides of the eyeballs, screaming “HELP MEEEEEE”.
Also, they never fucking stop moving. Is this an Australian thing? I didn’t go see Silverchair when I was a kid, but when they finished a song, did they stand there in silence, gesticulating wildly, heads bobbing and eyes bulging? Because every single Wiggles song ends that way. If any Silverchair performances did end this way, please link me to a video because I am extremely interested in checking that out.
So they’re stupid. And I hate them. But… look at how much kids love them. It’s just a harmless and gently moronic thing that kids have a lot of fun with. I’m not sure that I can be mad about it, and you probably shouldn’t either. I don’t really think we’re supposed to steer kids away from things just because we think that those things are annoying.
So I’ll suck it up. I’ll go ahead and sing “FRUIT SAL-AD! YUM-EE YUM-EE!” to myself while I do the dishes. I’ll whisper “toot toot chugga chugga big red car!” to myself while I’m preoccupied at work. My time will come when my daughter is a teenager and becomes curious about horror movies and I can finally say “I have such sights to show you!”
Also, I’m not sure that I can be mad at the Wiggles entirely because without them, I wouldn’t be able to watch this Wiggles/Slipknot mashup video.
Pretty sick track!