My children are in third and fifth grade right now. When I was their age(s), I remember coming home from school and plopping down with a page of mindless math problems and watching Gilligan’s Island, the Brady Bunch, and Tom and Jerry Cartoons. On a TV that only got three channels that only came in if you sat just right, and if you wanted to change the channel you had to get up and turn the knob – or use a pair of pliers if the knob fell off. But I digress. The point is this: I am not pretending that the television programs I watched as a child were intellectually stimulating or even tolerable to my parents.
But they weren’t designed to be annoying. They were designed to be silly, mindless shows with broad humor that would appeal to children. I get why they exist, and they were the creative forefathers of the mindless drivel that exists today like the A.N.T. Farm and iCarly and Hannah Montana.
My kids used to watch those, and while they didn’t appeal to me, I understood why they would appeal to my kids. However, these shows are now being supplanted by a whole genre whose entire purpose, it seems, is to annoy the stuffing out of anyone over the age of 18.
One of them, my children’s favorite, even has “Annoying” in its title: Annoying Orange. I hesitate to give it any more press than it already has, because I know there is no such thing as bad publicity, but I fear if we don’t speak out soon then Annoying will be a quality as desirable as Smart, Funny, or Honest. Annoying Orange used to be just a YouTube thing, which centers around this Orange, who is – surprise, surprise – very annoying. He annoys the other fruit and vegetables in the kitchen, and when he can’t think of some obnoxious comment to make, he sticks his tongue out of the side of his mouth and says, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah” until you think that being flayed and dipped in lemon juice is a better fate than listening to it. These dumb little YouTube videos attracted so much attention that the Cartoon Network picked it up and made it into a show. Urgh. In case you don’t believe me, I give you this holiday-themed Annoying Orange link.
Following close on Annoying Orange’s heels is Fred, who is probably 20 or so in real life, but plays this high school aged man-child who speaks in a nasal voice that is specifically prohibited in the Hague Convention for use in interrogations. Fred, like Annoying Orange, was a YouTube thing that got picked up by Nickelodeon and turned into a TV show. Fred is supposed to be this socially awkward ever-optimistic teenager who is forever getting his hopes dashed by the cool kids, who actually tolerate him a whole lot more than they would in real life. Whenever Fred gets excited, he screams in a way that gives me seizures. I mean, check out this irritating video, and notice that it got over NINE MILLION VIEWS. I’m all excited when I see that eleven people have shared my blog posts. I’m not saying I deserve a Pulitzer or anything (maybe just a publishing contract, no?) but I can say without fear of contradiction that I am a) more clever and b) less annoying than this wasteland.
And, as if this were not enough, the makers of Annoying Orange and Fred got together to have an Annoying-Off, which is guaranteed to give anyone over the age of twelve watching it kidney stones. I’d like you to note that over THIRTY ONE MILLION people watched this. Let me say that again. Thirty-one million views. And I’m guessing the vast majority of them are NOT PhD candidates who are writing their theses on the downfall of civilization.
Why do these things exist? I mean, someone, somewhere decided to use their creative energies to create this mess, and they clearly aren’t completely idiotic, they at least have the technical savvy to create these things and upload them on the Internet, and then the marketing ability to get THIRTY ONE MILLION VIEWS. (Just for some perspective, the state of Georgia, which is the 9th most populous state in the Union, has 9,815,210 people living in it. New York only has 19 million people. I'm not convinced 31 million people voted in the last election.) So why are these people using this power for such evil? Imagine if they had turned this energy into something useful, like creating a band-aid that doesn’t get all soaked and nasty when you wash your hands after going potty.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, in order to avoid a complete nervous breakdown, I have to sit right back and hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship.