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April 18, 2024

  • Jeanette Winterson for “gAyPRIL”
    “gAyPRIL” (Gay-April) continues on Falcon Radio, sharing a playlist curated by the Queer Trans Student Union, sharing songs celebrating the LGBTQ+ experience. In similar vein, you will enjoy Jeanette Winterson’s books if you find yourself interested in LGBTQ+ voices and nonlinear narratives. As “dead week” is upon us, students, we can utilize resources such as Falcon […]
  • Poetics of April
    As we enter into the poetics of April, also known as national poetry month, here are four voices from well to lesser known. The Tradition – Jericho Brown Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Brown visited the last American Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP 2024) conference, and I loved his speech and humor. Besides […]
Spring Housing Guide

Try the kids show that’s not really a kids show

The hottest show on television may be aimed at children, but the inventive and liberal use of pop music has made it a hit among adults too. I’m not referring to “Hannah Montana.”

“Yo Gabba Gabba!”, on Nick Jr., may not initially seem like a show college students would be able to enjoy, what with the colorful mascot characters and incessant cheeriness. Looking beyond that, however, reveals an undeniably creative – and often hilariously, ridiculously, intentionally absurd – musical variety show that is genuinely for “all ages.”

The title itself, for instance, is a reference to The Ramones’ song “Pinhead.”

The show’s creators, Scott Schultz and Christian Jacobs, aim to frame the show’s wholesome message around fun things they’ve always enjoyed, such as skateboarding, video games, and an eclectic mix of musical stylings, including new wave, hip-hop, electronic and indie rock.

It’s enough to make a Wiggle’s head explode.

Jacobs explained that decision to The New York Times. “That’s the kind of stuff I want to see too, you know,” he said. “My kids don’t know who The Shins are or why they’re cool, but why can’t we introduce them to them?”

Each episode begins with an educational theme; eating right, sharing and caution have been used in past installments. The boombox-toting host DJ Lance introduces us to four colorful monsters and a robot who provide examples through song, then wrap it up at the end with a remix to review what was learned.

Animated segments, along with celebrity cameos, contribute to the show’s variety.

If the structure and formula sounds familiar to classic kid shows like “The Muppet Show” and “Sesame Street”, it’s because of the deep affection the “Yo Gabba Gabba!” creators have for entertainment that can be widely enjoyed by anyone.

“Jim would have loved this show,” executive producer Charles Rivkin said to the San Francisco Chronicle. “This is what a Jim Henson show would look like today. It plays on multiple levels.”

For toddlers, the colors and fun characters may be enough. Adults, though, may be surprised at the quality of the songs offered – simple though they may be – and the sheer weirdness the show gleefully provides, especially compared to other children’s programming.

It comes as no surprise, though, considering co-creator Jacobs is also a member of the punk/ska band The Aquabats, a group that performs as colorful superhero characters and is known for manic, frenzied live shows.

That background has certainly led to the show’s distinctive voice and style.

Brown Johnson, who leads development and production for Nickeloden’s preschool programming, explains that the overall tone of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” is also part of what makes it unique.

“How many hip-hop alphabet shows have I been pitched? A lot,” Johnson told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The great thing about this show is that it’s not self-conscious. It’s not arch. It’s not too-cool-for-school.”

Indeed, one of the aspects I find most appealing about “Yo Gabba Gabba!” is its absolute refusal to patronize the audience.

Never does one get the impression the producers are looking down upon their audience. Never are the lessons presented in such a way that implies stupidity on the part of the viewer.

Rather, one could look at the show as being a statement of basic fundamental functions of being a human. Toddlers need to learn the importance of hygiene, health and courtesy in order to survive, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of it as a college student.

Perhaps most importantly, one of the show’s overriding themes is the benefit of being creative. There are several aspects per episode devoted to this idea.

Rapper Biz Markie hosts a regular segment on the program called “Biz’s Beat” where he shows the audience how to beatbox. He explained to Newsweek part of the reasoning behind joining the show, “I would never be a sellout, but you can never be a sellout to kids. Kids is kids!”

Apparently more agree, as episodes thus far have included, among others, The Shins, Elijah Wood, The Aggrolites, Tony Hawk, and Shiny Toy Guns teaching kids to sing and dance. More than that, they’re encouraging children to be creative.

Another recurring element based around exploring creativity features Mark Mothersbaugh teaching children to draw. Mothersbaugh is a member of the new-wave band Devo and also a successful composer for music and television.

“By the time we’re in high school, we’re already totally programmed on what we’re supposed to like,” he said to Newsweek. “But with kids, they’ve still got the potential we’ve always had as a species. If you’re going to try to leave any kind of imprint on our culture, that’s the time in someone’s life to do it.”

As an education major with a passion for creating entertainment, I couldn’t agree more.

With the writer’s strike continuing to deprive us of our scripted entertainment, you may find yourself longing for something that isn’t a reality show.

Maybe you should try something new, something you wouldn’t ordinarily like. Give “Yo Gabba Gabba!” a shot. Forget that it’s on Nick Jr. See if it doesn’t make you smile, or laugh at some of the absurdity of the show, or unintentionally humming along with a song.

You might be surprised.

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