Work/life balance

Today was my first day back in the classroom after a year away. A big deal. A big, big deal.

But because Maybelle has some sort of lower respiratory infection that's required us to hook her up to a nebulizer three times a day and that's kept her out of school, I spent this morning not making exciting last-minute plans for my class, but trying to decide which of the Wiggles is sexiest.

"Definitely Greg," said the friend who loaned us the Wiggles DVD. I emailed her while Maybelle was dancing like a pirate with Captain Feathersword.  Greg is the guy on the far left in this picture, and my friend is correct--he's the sexiest.*  Rest assured that this is a picture that offers a pretty clear sense of the vibe--the sexy, sexy vibe--of the Wiggles.

While some kids' programming--Sesame Street, for instance, or the work of Dan Zanes--clearly has the whole family in mind, particularly the ironic, snarky parents, the Wiggles don't.  They have so fully rejected playing to the snarky parent audience that they're actually pretty embarrassing to watch.  The first time Biffle and I put the DVD in for Maybelle, we both felt physically uncomfortable.  These guys are all smiles.  They have their shirts tucked in.  They have not a single special effect, not a single joke aimed over the heads of their audience, and they sing a bunch of truly goofy songs with awkward dance moves and big, bright eyes.

The thing is, preschoolers love them.  Even in her respiratory-infection-mode, Maybelle stood in front of the TV, mesmerized, stomping along with the bear and trying to sing "rom-pom-pa-chomp" along with Dorothy the Dinosaur.

The academic-minded me did perk up a bit as I watched the Wiggles and assessed their non-sexy selves.  Sexiness, like everything else, is culturally constructed,** and it's interesting to see these four adult men--men who were in rock bands called things like The Cockroaches back in the day--rejecting our culture's standard, acceptable models of masculinity.  Their lack of sexiness is intentional.  They're playing to an audience aged two to five, and it would be pretty repulsive if they were sexy rockstars.  So they've somehow very thoroughly divested of sexuality--really, any sexuality, as far as I can tell.  Greg is a cutie-pie, but on screen he is pure as the driven snow.  It's impressive that these guys have been able--and willing--to do that.  They've made a billion billion dollars doing it, so I guess that's motivating.

For what it's worth, after my Maybelle time was over, I made it to school for last-minute class preparation and had a fantastic afternoon in the classroom.  More about that later, I'm sure.

*In the same email, my friend shared, "Sadly, he's no longer a Wiggle."  Check out the Wiggles' Wikipedia page for more info.
**If you want me to focus respectfully on your ideas, start off by stating that whatever it is you're discussing is, of course, culturally constructed.  Then I'm all yours. 


Charlie S said...

footnote 2 made me giggle. I'm glad to hear that the balance is there, and looking forward to reading about your time back in the classroom.

"Maybelle vs. the Memoir" was wonderful as well.


Angie Mizzell said...

I always had a thing for the guy on the far right. Anthony, I believe.

Amanda said...

Aren't Wiggles awful? But they are toddler-crack. Although Hugh prefers Thomas the Train and lately, Nemo. Winter coldness has meant a lot of videos. Hugh also has had the nebulizer many, many times. Hope Maybelle is doing okay with it.

Jay said...

When Lee went through his Wiggles phase I kind of enjoyed it. (Compared to some other things - Caillou, I hate you) The songs and dancing are better than most. And they do have some sexy backup dancers sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. We've never watched the Wiggles, so I don't have a live comparison, but surely they couldn't be as painful to watch as the Teletubbies. J is still convinced that the baby in the sun is part of a plot to take over the world when that generation of kids comes of age--through subliminal messages communicated through baby giggles. Wiggles -- not so much.


Alison said...

Thanks for the comments, folks!

First of all, yes, the second footnote is completely true. At least I'm self-aware.

Anthony is SO not sexy! I'm delighted that someone thinks he is, though!

Glad to hear that we have further abominations, like Thomas and Caillou, ahead of us. And the Teletubbies were the first tv show that demonstrated that toddlers really will watch tv if it's made just for them.

EB Schlaeger said...

My littlest niece, who turns 3 towards the end of March, will not watch anything BUT the Wiggles...or as she refers to them, the "Go-Go-Go's" (I believe that's the first song she heard them do, and she's called them that ever since). Having two older nieces, my sister has been able to evaluate various toddler type shows, and of them all, she likes the Wiggles the best, as well. Lauren also always stands to watch them, because she almost always dances along, in addition to singing along. SO, go you non-sexy guys!

What amazes me is how long they've been doing what they're doing, and the fact that they were able to come up with that much stuff. It takes a special person to be able to do that for a living, I think. My first thought when I saw them was "they can never have a bad day," because I felt that even the slightest "off" feeling could wreck havok on what they're trying to accomplish.