TONY: Well, that was wholly unexpected…
(Tati is poking at a socket with a screwdriver.)
TATI: Yes, fuck a duck with a Christmas tree!
TONY: Erm, no. I’d rather not, thanks. I’m still recovering from the naughty video you sent me.
TATI: What naughty video? Stop babbling, Tony! It’s a children’s television series! It’s aimed at four to eight year olds!
TONY: John the penis man? I don’t recall television ever being like that when I was growing up!
TATI: Oh, of course. Your sweet childhood when the trees were tall and green, and men were supposed to fix things in the house! How on Earth did you manage to break this, Tony?
TONY: I dunno. I just plugged my PS4 in and the socket kind of died… a bit.
TATI: PS4? I thought you had ordered a PS5… Oh. Was that the real reason, huh?
TONY: Tati, this is not Teti-à-Tête. This is a different feature. So let’s stop playing dickheads and just have a good, adult discussion here, eh?
TATI: Oh, really? Well… okay, let’s. Have you already posted the link to the video you’re so outraged by? Are our dearest readers aware of what we’re talking about?
TONY: You’re right. Just a moment…
TONY: There you go. All they have to do is click on that image. Oh, and if I’m honest, I’m not outraged by this at all. If anything, I’m just a bit speechless. What can you say about a children’s show that features a man with a prehensile penis?
TATI: It’s we, the perverted adults, that highlight certain parts of our bodies over others for shaming. Don’t you feel so?
TONY: That’s true. You don’t see a very young child reaching for a fig leaf out of a sense of modesty, do you? It’s usually only adults that get shocked over this kind of thing.
TATI: Firstly, shall we give some background for our readers, Tony?
TONY: Well, again I would encourage them to click the image above if they haven’t already done so. And as for what it is, it’s the first season of a Danish stop motion animated series aimed at young children. It features an adult male who wears what appears to be a striped bathing costume, and has a long, posable penis. (God. How many times am I going to say the word ‘penis’ in this conversation?)
TATI: You forgot to mention that it was developed together with a child psychologist—and other professionals—who reviewed the scripts to ensure that children wouldn’t misinterpret what they saw.
TONY: That’s the part that troubles me slightly. There will always be at least one child who interprets what they’re seeing in this show in a way that the experts won’t want them to. But then… what would an incorrect interpretation even look like?
TATI: Okay, while I’m thinking about a smart reply, just give me your professional opinion. I believe you previously studied animation at university, yes? Do you think this show is technically well made? Or is it trash?
TONY: I think it works well enough for the stories that the creators want to tell. It’s stop motion animation with what appears to be a mixture of cut outs and some claymation figures—I can’t quite tell. But the overall art style works because it seems to be designed to look like a toy set that a very young child might play with. Everything moves in a slightly clunky and limited way, but again this might be to enhance the whole visual aesthetic they’re aiming for. I believe this show very much appeals to quite a large younger demographic, so they must be doing something right.
TATI: So, do you feel it was really made for children? Or, rather, is it a cynical move where they’ve realised that it will be discussed by a wide adult audience? Is it a way to generate some ‘hype’?
TONY: For publicity you mean? Sure, that’s certainly a possibility. Having the main character be an adult with a… well, ‘versatile’ penis… and it’s a children’s show? That’s bound to generate a lot of discussion at the very least. Outrage even. I can imagine that many parents wouldn’t want their children to view such content, but the more attention they draw to it then the more success it is likely to enjoy.
TATI: Would you allow your children to view the show?
TONY: In a way, I’m kinda glad I don’t have children. Can you imagine having to decide whether or not it’s okay for them to watch something like this? On the one hand, I don’t want them to grow up being ashamed of their bodies, so I can see how watching this show could help them to laugh at the beautiful absurdity of the human anatomy. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to inadvertently expose them to something that could be considered wildly inappropriate. It’s a tough call to make. Would you allow your children to view ‘John Dillermand’?
TATI: Well, like you I can only theorise this. I believe our dearest readers who have children and grandchildren will give us much more reasonable pros and cons. As for me… hell, yes. I would allow them to view it. Though I am surprised that they don’t have something like a warning or disclaimer at the beginning of each episode. Even the most silly videos where people do something completely idiotic include ‘performed by professionals’ and ‘don’t try this at home’. But why don’t they explain to children that poking a penis into a lion’s cage can be rather dangerous? Or touching a bare wire? Everything looks like mere fun here.
TONY: Yes, I take your point. Mere fun with no consequences. And, actually, when you think about it, it’s a wonder that you and I didn’t immediately perish from our own stupid mistakes when we were growing up. We were children in an era that had no warning labels for anything, so we had to learn stuff the hard way!
TATI: Do you mean that it makes no sense to warn children about danger? They will do it anyway?
TONY: I expect children will do what they do anyway. I mean, we did, right? Of course, this doesn’t mean that parents shouldn’t fulfill their role as caretakers, but perhaps some of the most indelible life lessons that children learn can only be done through personal adversity.
TATI: Anyway, I think there are no right or wrong answers here. Let’s try to sum this up and then our readers can add anything if they want. Do you personally say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to such TV shows?
TONY: There’s no point me saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a show that already exists without my say so. All I really can do is raise my hypothetical children as best as I possibly can, which would include gently guiding them in their viewing choices. And, on second thought, I think I’m probably leaning more towards your earlier response. I would allow them to watch at least one episode of this, and hopefully their reaction would clue me in on whether or not they should watch any more. There you go. That’s my long-winded answer to your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question!
TATI: Okey-dokey, Tony. I think the socket is fixed now. How about we watch one more episode?