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.
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.