The Wiggly Circus1 May 2012
This month’s column comes all the way from Melbourne, Australia (ooh, get me). I’m at home visiting the family, which is, as any expatriate will tell you, very much NOT a holiday.
Not that it isn’t great to catch up with old friends, see the family and let the kids spend time with their cousins, but you aren’t there long so every day is a constant rush.
Throw in all the clothes shopping needed for the year ahead, plus the need to keep going to places like the zoo, parks and attractions like the Philip Island Penguin Parade (a must if you are in Victoria), and you have to be on the go the whole trip.
But now is the highlight of the trip as far as the kids are concerned. All the penguins, parks, zoos and time with the grandparents fades away and they would swap it in a heartbeat for the activity we have planned for Thursday morning. We are going to see The Wiggles.
You will have had one of three reactions to this statement. The first would be “Who?” The second: “Wow! Brilliant! Can I come?!” and the third “Oh good Lord. You poor woman. Do you have to go too?”
Just from your reactions I can tell you that you are either a parent of a child (third response), a child aged seven years old or under (second), or (first) a very, very lucky person indeed who should make sure at all costs you retain your ignorance of these weird and colourful characters.
The Wiggles are a strange breed. They have no real talent as such, apart from an exceptional ability to smile broadly at every waking hour (in fact, one of them, Jeff the token narcoleptic, even grins inanely during his sleep). There are four of them, each wearing a bright, differently coloured jumper.
They sing, they smile, they sing some more, they smile even more, they waggle their fingers, and finally smile again, just to make sure you’ve got the feel good vibe they are trying to inject into proceedings.
That really is the full deal. And young kids love it. Mine, aged five and two, are completely obsessed. They do the dances, they sing the songs, we have at least eight DVDs. Which is where the problems start.
I really don’t mind the kids enjoying The Wiggles. There are plenty worse “entertainers” out there and seeing them enjoy this group of increasingly old (they must be approaching 60) performers thrill the kids is really nice.
I know when we see them live the kids will dance in the aisles having the time of their lives. What mother could object to that?
What many mothers, including this one, objects to though are the amazing merchandising opportunities launched by the group. There is barely a product imaginable that hasn’t been produced with a likeness of The Wiggles or their friends, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog or Captain Feathersword.
If we see a Wiggles product anywhere, the kids are always desperate to have it.
You end up buying tons of rubbish, half the house being full of Wiggles memorabilia. We even have a Dorothy the Dinosaur dress-up, which the boy likes to wear. For shame. Worse, I bought him a red Wiggles shirt like Murray’s (his favourite) ahead of the show and he has so far not taken it off for three days, even refusing to take it off when he sleeps. It’s not just him either.
At the zoo this week, he had on a Wiggles band-aid covering a scratch. Another little girl was so impressed she attached herself to his arm and got her mum to find out where we bought such a magical product.
One last example of why The Wiggles phenomenon is so sad and worrying. My girl was chatting with a precocious daughter of one of my friends. They were comparing who loved The Wiggles most. This girl said to my daughter: “Do you have Wiggles bed covers?”
“No” said my daughter. “Do you have Wiggles toothbrush?” Again, she answered no. She then said no when asked if she had Wiggles slippers, vest, icepack, lunchbox, bicycle, hat, football, dog toy, towel, drawing book and hairbrush. “Wow” said the little girl. “You must be really poor.”