Volume 3, Number 9
by Wil Forbis
Recently, I was attending the annual stockholders meeting of one of the many corporations I've invested in and things were getting rather rowdy. One half of the group of opulent investors were arguing that we needed a new capital gains tax to "stick it to the poor where it really hurts" while the other half was saying we should "beat the poor till they lay bleeding in their own urine." Now I was quietly trying to get some attention for a compromise I'd developed, which was "smashing the poor into piles of unidentifiable goo" but it was all going nowhere. Trying to be heard in a room of excited free-market capitalists is a lot like trying to be heard in a roomful of enraged buffalo - essentially impossible (though the buffalo are usually serving a much better brand of Chablis.) So I decided to try out an attention getting technique I once saw on Eight Is Enough. I figured if I calmly voiced opinions so shocking and reprehensible in content, they would have no choice but to pay attention to me.
"Hey, Charlie," I stated to the fellow next to me. "Did you know the holocaust was a lie?"
Charlie paid no heed, and continued throwing cheese chiplets at the CEO of a large corporation who was across the table. "Bob," I called out to a fellow across the room. "I had a great time molesting your ten year old son yesterday!"
Bob ignored me and continued smashing his cellular phone against the head on the aged Duchess of Smackenshire, a small northeastern English province. "Okay," I thought to myself, "I'll give this one more try."
"Gentleman, " I began. "I like Barney the Dinosaur."
With this the room went silent. Finally, Thomas Robeson, who runs a nuclear armaments plant cried out, "Forget punishing the poor, let's get Forbis." Instantly I was attacked by a barrage of solid silver forks, fine china plates, and pewter money clips filled with weighty hundred dollar bills. The force of said blows sent me reeling across the room where I bounced off the wall where I was further assaulted by a thousand dollar attaché case and several weighty copies of "The Complete Ayn Rand Reader: With A Joint Introduction By Milton Friedman and Neal Peart."
Finally I descended to the floor bloodied and beginning to lose consciousness, only vaguely aware of the sound of my affluent cohorts proceeding back to their table to continue discussing the plans for the film version of Charles Murry's the Bell Curve, starring Leonardo Decapprio.
I've always felt lying in a pool of one's own blood and organs is an excellent time to ruminate on life, and began to now. It was curious, I thought, how my cronies had responded so savagely to the mere mention of the Purple One's name. Why could that be? Barney was certainly no Pol Pot or Stalin, no O.J. or James Earl Ray. Why do people hate him so?
The truth is, I don't really "like" Barney, I just don't particularly hate him. But even that's a hard position to take in a society that really seems to have it in for the fellow. Ever since he popped up on PBS five or so years ago, people have been venting and ranting, accusing the overstuffed oaf of everything from childishly insipid conduct to being the spawn of Satan. And nowhere is Barney more despised than on the Internet. Plug the Barnster's name into a search engine and look what you find: "BARNEY IS PURE EVIL," "DAVE'S ANTI-BARNEY PAGE," "BARNEY HATE LINKS," "TOP 38 WAYS TO KILL BARNEY," and "PROOF THAT BARNEY IS SATANIC." Not a whole lot of love there. But why? Why all this obsessive hatred over some alcoholic transient in a dinosaur costume? It really points out the hypocrisy of this society. For years we snivel about the violence on television, how it's raising a generation of mental defectives and homicidal Beavis and Buttheads (I'll bet you the Jonesboro kids never watched Barney), then when a genuinely kind and well-liked childhood icon appears, we whine that he's too nice, too benevolent, and demand his destruction. What a bunch of brats we are.
You would think Barney would be a hit with generation X, the generation that collects Happy Days lunch boxes and reveres the time traveling adventures of Sherman and Mr. Peabody like they were the Book of Genesis. But, I guess Barney is too schlocky, a little too serious when he spouts outs his educational and affirming drivel. I guess when it comes down to it, Barney is the Anti-Gen X icon, there's not an ounce of cynicism in him. While the rest of television is foaming at the mouth with hip, urban pessimism, Barney is playfully hopping through his pastel landscape, cheerfully singing "I love you, You love me, etcetera, etcetera" There's just no room left in this T.V. collage of Detective Sipowiczs and Bart Simpsons for an eternally cheerful and admittedly, mildly retarded character like Barn. He's the modern day Lennie from Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, and like George, society has decided it is time to silence him forever.
Perhaps, it is because Barney represents our youth that we so despise him. Our children are our future, and though we bless and protect them, we must also view them with an eye of jealousy. They have their whole lives ahead of them, a montage of first kisses, first jobs, of hopes and dreams that may be fulfilled. But we cannot be so cold as to despise them, so we hate their heroes, perhaps in a jaded attempt to make them aware of the harshness of reality. We dislike Barney because he is our lost innocence, our lost childhood calling. (This would also explain why I don't detest him, as my transition from child to adult has been tenuous at best.)
It is said that God the father gave his only begotten son to be punished for the sins of mankind. And when I think of Jesus, his lacerated, bloodied body, dragging the cross of his doom up the hill while Romans taunted him, I think of Barney. He too, is suffering for mankind, uniting us together in universal hatred of he, fraying him against the cross of public television. He too, has his court of apostles: his television friends, like that one older Hispanic chick, or that redheaded white kid whom we all know will grow up gay, and Baby Bop, who will eventually betray him. And the day may come my friends, when we will realize that the so called "second coming" has already occurred, and that the simple jester, the folly of our children is actually the form of a much wiser adult. And those who refused to be led by him will simply burn in the eternal fires of hell. If this is you friend, you have one escape. Simply repeat after me:
I know that the Lord sent his only begotten son, Barney the Purple Dinosaur, to die for my sins, and I accept the love Barney has offered me everyday before Sesame Street and that pedophiliac Mr. Rogers. Furthermore, I will buy every stuffed Barney toy that comes down the market, and will support every PBS program including Firing Line. To the lord Barney. Amen.Don't say I didn't warn you, sinners.