Dear DJ Lance Rock, Muno, Foofa,
Brobee, Toodee and Plex,
I took my son and his friend to a "Yo Gabba Gabba Live" show a few weeks ago and have been meaning to write to you ever since, but it has taken me a while to put my feelings into words. Not since Barney and Mr. Roger's Neighborhood have I been so profoundly affected by children's entertainment. I'm not normally the type of person who writes to celebrities, so I hope you appreciate how intense my feelings are. I will never be the same again.
I hate you.
I know I shouldn't lash out at people whose jobs are designed only to bring joy and the occasional positive message to little children, but really, I hate you.
First, what is up with the ridiculous names and hideous costumes? How do the five of you jump around on stage in those rubberized suits without passing out? Y'all looked like Weebles (for those of you too young to know what I'm talking about, Weebles were only the BEST toy ever) but not in a good way. DJ Lance is the only one who escaped the indignity of looking like he had been shoved in a revamped Teletubbies outfit, but that orange jumpsuit makes him look like an escapee from a music video from the 1970's.
Then there was the music. I felt like my ears were bleeding. I don't know what was worse, the songs themselves or the maniacal mother behind me screeching the lyrics while her daughter put her hands over her ears and kicked the back of my chair. I couldn't tell if the girl was trying to block out the music or her mother, but in addition to the overpriced merchandise in the lobby, I could have used some earplugs. This is just a thought, but your audience is a bunch of preschoolers with delicate ears, so how about making sure they can still hear their parents yelling at them after the show? These are kids who can hear the sound of the cookie jar opening from three rooms away -- I guarantee they'll be able to follow "There's a Party in My Tummy" if you turn the volume down just a smidge.
Speaking of "There's a Party in My Tummy," is there any way to mix up the lyrics a bit? I know these are little kids who value repetition, but I'm pretty sure they can handle something more complex than the two line "There's a party in my tummy, so yummy, so yummy." I'd be happy to point you to some examples of music both kids and their parents can enjoy. How about Bare Naked Ladies' "Snacktime," The Laurie Berkner Band, Dan Zane, or Jack Johnson's "Curious George" soundtrack? You made a good choice though with Biz Markie. I never thought I'd be exposing my son to beatboxing at such an early age, but those ten minutes saved me from throwing myself over the balcony.
Most horrifying was how the adults behaved. I've been to college grunge concerts, frat parties and even a bridal sale at Filene's Basement and I've never seen people behave so badly. I was prepared for tantrums, meltdowns and the occasional stink-eye, but I expected them from the kids, not their caretakers. The adults in attendance shoved my kids out line, pushed past them on the stairs, and snapped at them while trying to get to their seats. They let their own children scream, cry, kick chairs and run around like maniacs. There was one dad whose son wailed through the entire show, calming down only during intermission when the music stopped. I know exactly how that kid felt. I wanted to tap his dad on the shoulder and say, "Hey, I know it's a drag, but this one just isn't going to work. Give your kid a break, suck up the $70 you spent on tickets and go get some ice cream."
To be fair, bad parental behavior isn't really your fault, but still. For a group that claims, in part, to promote prosocial behavior in kids, the audience was surprisingly hostile to the lessons from the stage.
And I understand that tours are how you make money and don't begrudge you some stuffed toys and t-shirts in the lobby. Both the boys got miniature Plex dolls to take home with them. Miniature, because I couldn't bear to pay for the larger versions. After spending over $100 on tickets, I had to limit the swag, not that you made that easy with your brightly colored goods strategically placed in every nook of the theater. You mixed things up too -- toys, shirts, glow sticks. Glow sticks? Are we at a Dead concert? I'd like to give a special shout out to the woman walking through the aisles to hawk merchandise in case we missed it in the lobby, on the landing and right outside the theater doors. She miraculously arrived with a pile of glow sticks right when you were singing the song about being afraid of the dark. What are the chances?
I give you credit. You go out on stage with energy and enthusiasm and the kids loved it. My IQ may have dropped 15 points, but no one can say you don't deliver a show where kids can shake their sillies out. That being said, I've learned my lesson. Until my kids are old enough to appreciate Matchbox 20, we'll skip the concerts.
Devon "the cranky mom in Seat L20"
Follow Devon Corneal on Twitter: www.twitter.com/dcorneal