Walters, Barry, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Children's television has a long and largely unspoken connection to gay sensibility. After all, it's our first exposure to popular culture, one without the inhibitions of the adult world. How many queer boys have fallen in love with Speed Racer? How many diminutive dykes first fixated on Josie and the Pussycats? Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie continue to school junior homos about domestic partnership, while Mister Rogers still clues preschool pansies 'in on the meaning of the phrase "sweater queen." And what invert growing up in the '80s wasn't seriously impacted by Pee-wee's Playhouse?
While cartoons in America have become increasingly controversial adult entertainment, the live-action show Teletubbies has created a stir in England as the first TV program designed for children as young as a year old. Starring four adorably fuzzy, amply padded creatures who frolic across a hilly English countryside amid bunnies and cooing flowers, Teletubbies--now making its U.S. debut via PBS--offers the strangest weekday merriment that broadcast television has to offer. Barney has nothing on these up-and-coming toddler totems.
It's a challenge to describe exactly what Teletubbies do. They romp around Teletubbyland occasionally speaking British baby talk (off-screen narrator voices have been dubbed into Americanese), frequently giving each other "big hugs," popping out of holes, playing with their vacuum cleaner pal Noo-noo, doing line dances, and receiving broadcasts on their TV bellies from a giant, magical windmill. A film featuring children at play fills our screens until the Teletubbies chant, "Again! Again!" Then they--and we--watch the same film over again.
Designed to engage baby-size attention spans, Teletubbies is startlingly repetitive, minimal in a Dr. …