American Zombification: from Barney to Lady Gaga

In an earlier chapter of my life, I was fortunate enough to land a job producing Barney DVDs (or unfortunate, depending on one’s point of view). In case you’re not familiar with Barney, he is the large, purple dinosaur who dances around singing “I love you, you love me.” He also giggles a lot (more on that later). Let me tell you, if you have to spend countless hours watching Barney episodes over and over again in order to brainstorm DVD extras, you won’t be doing much giggling. You will, however, buy stock in Tylenol.

This morning, in a moment of unsupervised technological freedom, my three-year-old got hold of the iPad and somehow ended up watching Barney on Netflix. The episode was one of the usual sort: Barney and his two henchmen, Baby Bop and BJ, spent a lot of time dancing around and singing about how wonderful it would be if snowflakes tasted like milkshakes and lollipops. Curiously enough, they did not sing about the wonders of tooth decay brought on by consumption of milkshakes and lollipops. After two seconds of watching, my three-year-old immediately came down with a full-blown case of attention deficit disorder. I shut the iPad off.

Having a bit of the inside scoop on the underworld of Barney, let me tell you a thing or two. First, Barney is not your friend. That “I Love You” song that he’s always sings? The subtext for “You” is money. Cash. Barney has an immense bank account secreted in the Cayman Islands in order to avoid paying taxes. He employs an entire firm of accountants who move his money around the world. He owns a casino in Macau, several hotels in Vegas, the Real Madrid soccer team, and a 22% stake of the Russian oil company Gazprom. Barney and Baby Bop and BJ are always flying down to the Caribbean in one of the Lear jets. They throw huge parties on the weekends. Impossible to get in unless you know someone like Bob the Builder.

Second, I’m reasonably certain that, although Barney’s corporate HQ is in Dallas, TX, it’s just a front. The real corporate HQ is on some other planet inhabited by a whole bunch of cigar-smoking purple dinosaurs coldly and methodically plotting the takeover of Planet Earth. No one giggles on Barney’s home planet.

Like Lenin said (Vladimir, not John), “gimme the kids when they’re young, and I”ll have ‘em for the rest of their lives.” My non-Russian paraphrase, but the gist is the same.

The third problem with Barney is zombification. Kids watch him, kids sing along with him, kids love him. Kids think, “hey, he’s kind of weird looking and not exactly human and the songs sound all the same, but that’s okay, because my brain is turning into oatmeal.” The kids grow up and then you know what happens? They become Lady Gaga fans because the Barney-inspired thinking process perfectly applies to Lady Gaga. “Hey, she’s kind of weird looking and not exactly human and the songs sound all the same, but that’s okay, because my brain has turned into organic Kashi.”

So, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5 thoughts on “American Zombification: from Barney to Lady Gaga”

  1. You know, I liked Barney, when my older kids were of an age to watch it (probably right around the time you were involved in producing it – then again, wait, no. DVDs didn’t exist then. Must have been earlier). It was a friendly show that taught good principles, and some nice children’s tunes. However, Baby Bop grated on my nerves something fierce. I can’t imagine having to watch those shows over and over and over and… Chinese water torture would be restful in comparison. Come to think of it, it might explain a few things about you. Aaaah, no, don’t hit me – iloveyou you lovemewe’reahappyfamileeeeeeee…

    1. The stories I could tell about working on that property…but, a small vestige of professional courtesy is causing me to refrain. Shucks.

      1. When I first saw Teletubbies, I was flabberghasted. I thought Baby Bop was annoying, but Teletubbies was Baby Bop taken to its n-th degree and multiplied by four. And the really scary thing was that my toddler at the time liked it, and I was too stressed out and braindead to find him alternate sources of amusement.

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