Video Digest: May 23, 2008

Videos even a child could love: Meave Gallagher on the bizarre universe of adult-children: child actors, child stars, and children being serenaded by Smokey Robinson.

Perhaps inspired by TMN’s Matthew Baldwin’s Sesame Street-themed muxtape, or the birth of my boyfriend’s nephew, I’ve been thinking a lot about kids. Babies specifically, though still in that “maybe I’d rather adopt a puppy” sort of way; my maternal instincts remain sufficiently vague for the present. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I had any until after a stint as an au pair. Five minutes making faces with a toddler on the bus is about all I need right now.

Photos of children make it frighteningly easy to idealize them, all the unpleasant things about them—hyperactivity, recalcitrance, the inexplicable tears of the preverbal—fading away before their huge eyes and funny smiles. This rarely happens with child actors, who often come across as caricatures of themselves. However much this creepy stage-father wants “to preserve that genuine quality [his son] always had,” even at his most candid, Mason Reese gives the uncomfortable impression of being an adult in an eight-year-old boy’s ridiculous clothes.

Compared to the ice cream cake man-child, there’s less artifice in this parental lecture on doll ownership by a “young mother”; no one ever told her to relax and “act natural.”

On that note, when former child stars grow up and have child stars of their own, sometimes these children grow up to sing duets about crazy, overbearing stage mothers. Although, as Liza vehemently notes, this song IS NOT ABOUT their mother. SHE JUST LIKED IT, OK?

One of Sesame Street’s big features is singing, especially when famous singers perform their hit songs—slightly adjusted for more kid-friendly themes. Especially memorable to me is Smokey Robinson’s rendition of “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” starring the letter U as baby’s first stalker. The whole thing is so creepy, would this spot even make it on the air today?

With the goody-goody messages (however relevant) of today’s kids’ songs, probably not.

As far I remember, some of the most normal kids on television were the actors on You Can’t Do That on Television. Granted, they did not all turn out to be the most normal adults, but who could tell how weird they might be with all the other insanity going on around them.

There’s no reason to include this crazy Japanese potty-training video, if only to compare it to the bland inoffensiveness of Once Upon a Potty. The enthusiasm is much catchier than those quiet little humans and their quiet little kiddy-toilet non-adventures, and who doesn’t want a bilingual child these days?

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