The Disney Channel
Dear TV Execs,
Dear TV Execs,
Back when I were a lad John Noakes and Shep used to fill my afternoons with the many wonders that Britain had to offer in the late 70's, like actually going outside and playing with my friends. In a time before the Health and Safety Nazis this might have included pretending to be Evil Knievel by sticking a lolly stick between the spokes of my Chopper for an 'authentic' motorbike noise before peddling desperately towards a badly fabricated ramp made from some limp carboard and a couple of bricks.
Time after time the ramp would collapse, and time after time I'd clock up another cut knee or grazed elbow. From behind the orange Austin Maxi, and the bucket of highly toxic chemicals being used to wash it, my dad would appear and shout 'Get up and stop crying you big girl'. And I did, again and again until mum called out that my Findus Crispy Pancakes and Alphabites were ready.
The 'outside' offerred endless possibilities for kids to die in the late 70's and early 80's. I remember one episode where, after donning my very trendy new blue Adidas tracksuit, a pal and I went off on an adventure (on our own) to the demolished wreck of some old buildings near my house. We happened upon a couple of tins of white paint and using our ingenuity we managed to prize them open using some sticks and bits of old rubble. Well, you can imagine the rest but suffice to say I got a back-hander and spent the night in my room. Without Crispy Pancakes. or Alphabites. Alone.
Sadly we all grow up. Sort of.
Me, well I've got a lovely partner, two lovely girls,7 and 3 mths, a job in IT, no FaceSpaceBo page or money in the bank. Mr Brown has seen to that.
I do however have Virgin Media, Nickleodeon, The Disney Channel and a 7 year old who says 'Dude', 'Oh my God', 'Whatever', 'No', Dumb', 'Lame', 'Moron' and occasionally other less wholesome phrases. She also has the desire to have a boyfriend and 'Snog' him and absolutely no concept of 'Bedtime' or the 'Outside'. I also have 2000+ followers on Twitter thanks mostly to my website AngryBritain.com and letters like these.
Seeing as Nick, Nick JR and Nick Replay, The Disney Channel, The Disney Channel +1 are more or less on continuously in my household unfortunately I lay the blame for the majority of this squarely at your doors. I take a modicum of responsibility for the less wholesome phrases, I am human after all. I remember an incident way back in the 80's where I told my dad cheekily to 'F*ck off'.
I only did it once.
So let's begin with what I deem to be acceptable language in childrens television. Clearly the 'F' word is never going to appear on Nickleodeon or Disney - this is a good thing. Leave it to Eastenders, it's only a matter of time.
IMHO (In my humble opinion) 'OMG!', 'Oh my God' and '
Guilty! - Spongebob: 'I didn't realise it was happy hopping moron day - Squidward'.
Guilty! - Hannah Montana - Whilst no doubt having grown up in a luxurious trailer park with Billy-Ray, among her badly pronunciated illiterate ramblings you'll quite often hear 'OMG!' or 'Oh my God, I'm stoked'. Roughly translated into the Queens English this means 'Poked by Jesus - or of course the deity of your choosing'
The dumbing down of language on kids TV is obvious, and it's not getting any better. Personally I'm looking forward to 'Da' News at Ten' in about 20 years. Innit?.
Guilty! - iCarly - Carly's blonde pal Sam teaching her brother Spencer to lie 'effectively'. Lying is not ok. Not ever.
Cut off her broadband and send her to her room.
So to my 7 year old's 'boyfriend' issue, we have our gushing High School Musical heroes Troy-exaggerated-head-movement-Bolton and Gabriella-sickly-sweet-Montez, always sneaking off for 'private' moment on a rooftop terrace, treehouse or walk under the stars, inevitably ending in a song and dance routine. And a disturbed kiss.
My 7 year old doesn't need to know how to sneak off to kiss boys thank you Disney. And don't even get me started on Sharpay-exactly-how-not-to-behave-to-get-what-you-want-fabulous-pink-prada-tote-Evans.
My final point is interactive. Back in the days of John Noakes kids TV finished at 5pm, Bedtime was shortly after. There were no arguments. I hereby invite you to drop by AngryTowers one evening and try and prize my 7 year old away from the sofa to go to bed while one of these shows is on late at night. Most nights she will go to bed in tears because the show she is watching is 'her favorite and she hasn't seen this one' and thanks to the likes of Spongebob and iCarly, I'm a 'moron' and don't need to be obeyed.
We really don't need 24/7 Nickleodeon or Disney Channel. Really we don't. Up to 7pm will be just fine thank you.
Now I realise that your argument is likely to be that TV viewing is about choice and that we as a family don't have to watch. I entirely agree but for the want of not making my child an outcast I'm left with a difficult choice that I shouldn't really have to make.
So, now you've (possibly) read this thanks to the wonders of the interweb why not trawl the archives one Friday afternoon and have a look at how kids TV used to be made, then take a look at what it's become.
It's not pretty. I prefer the one I we made earlier.
Thanks for watching.
*Fades to Blue Peter music Da-Da-Dada-Da-Da-Da-Da-Daaaaa*