THE CREEPIEST KIDS’ SHOW EVER
After a couple decades out of the loop, I’m back to watching kids’ TV shows now–mainly because I spend the first hour or so of each morning waking up, checking email, and scarfing down a bowl of cereal as the kids veg out in front of the ol’ glass teat. Some of the shows are quite good–Fairly Oddparents (about a kid with two fairy godparents) is a smorgasbord of smart pop-culture references that go right over my kids’ heads; Spongebob is great goofy fun; and Kids Next Door is a bizarre cross between Little Rascals and Mission: Impossible. Can’t say I’d tune in to any of them on my own, but they’re worth watching if the little demons are in the room.
Children’s TV has always had its disturbing elements–cartoon characters who crave sugary cereal like meth addicts; grown men who prance about and sing songs apropos of nothing; tv shows that reinforce the joy of conformity and doing what you’re told (Thomas the Tank Engine comes to mind); crime-solving teens who battle evil every week without ever once ending up like that Aruba girl.
But I’ve just seen the hands-down creepiest TV show ever. In the late 1970s, Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori posited the idea of the “Uncanny Valley,” which holds that we don’t mind how much robots look like us…up to a point, at which they totally creep us out. And the show “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” falls straight into that valley. Click here and you can get an idea of what these sick little planes look like…but you won’t get the full experience until you actually watch them talking; their cheeks, eyebrows, filtrums (the cleft between the nose and lips)–all work exactly like real people, except THESE ARE DECAPITATED HEADS STUCK ON THE FRONT OF PLANES! It’s worth TiVoing from your local PBS station just to see it–but I’d recommend avoiding any pharmaceutical enhancements while you do so.
Jay Jay the Jet Plane–can’t fault the name; message seems to be okay. But disembodied faces on the front of airplanes…eep. When my kids are in therapy, Jay Jay, I’m gunning for your freak-ass fuselage.