Oops. I made the mistake of inviting the kid over to watch this Chris Ware animation, which was released as a preview to the new This American Life TV show that starts Thursday on Showtime.
I figured, cartoons, cute story, four minutes, kids making fake TV cameras out of paper towel tubes, where's the harm? And even though a kid flips the bird [unnoticed, afaik], and the story takes an unexpectedly somber turn--it's This American Life, duh--it was the kid's sad, sad plea to watch it again that totally unnerved me.
"I want to watch it again."
"Pleeease can we watch it again?"
"But Daddy, I NEED to watch it again." lip starts quivering.
"We can find something else."
"But Daddy, I NEED to watch the camera story again."
So I extracted the "only one more time" promise from her, and we watched it again. Path of least resistance, right?
Television and This American Life have been on my mind for a few days now, though. This past weekend's show was hilarious and all about TV. It was taped at the live TAL tour. It was apparently the Minneapolis show which set off Garrison Keillor's hypocritical, homophobic rant last week. [On a positive note, they also toured with Mates of State, who kept a rocker parent travelblog alongside mine on Babble.]
Sex columnist and gay dad Dan Savage talked about worrying that some totally deranged Disney Channel tween show, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, [Zack!], was going to warp his straight son DJ's notions of boy-girl relationships. And he talked about how his son wanted the flamingest dog ever, a toy poodle.
Yeah, I worry about what TV's teaching the kid, but it was the other flamer, the hilarious, non-TV-watching writer David Rakoff, whose words still haunt me. He talked about studies that show how TV simulates some aspects of friendship. When his married friend watches TV alone, he said, she still has her husband in the next room. But when the single, middle-aged gay man watches TV alone, he went on, it only underscored his loneliness. The TV was an obviously poor substitute for a friend, and he felt it.
The kid talks about her friends, Mommy, Aunt Annie, Grandma, and Elmo. "Elmo's my friend" is a sentence that freaks me out, even when I factor in her still-limited comprehension of the meaning of the word.
This American Life preview, animated by Chris Ware [brightcove.com via boingboing]
This American Life: What I Learned From Television, Episode 328 [thislife.org]
Previously: Garrison Keillor perpetuates annoying stereotypes
Related; Dan Savage figures out he's the object of Garrison Keillor's wrath. And he unpacks Keillor's brittle apology.