Open Cord (June 22): Hated childhood pop culture

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Graphic by Wade Thompson

Question: At this stage in the game, we’re pretty prone to liking what we like and occasionally hating what the mainstream tells us to. But we never tend to think that this was also the case when we were kids. Is there an item of popular culture that, as a child, you couldn’t stand or didn’t get, despite its undeniable popularity amongst your friends and other kids around you?

Alanna Fairey, Lead Reporter: When I was probably in the first grade, all of my friends and classmates were obsessed with the show Pingu. Basically, it’s the show where a penguin named Pingu goes on all of these mundane adventures in Antarctica, but no one says anything, they just speak “penguin language”. I figured that I would give the show a chance since I thought penguins were absolutely adorable. Problem was, I hated that there was no dialogue! I hated that you had to give the show all of your attention, because if you doze off for even a second, you won’t know what’s going on. I was always so confused watching the show because at the same time, I’d also be playing with my dolls or doing some sort of drawing or writing. When I would finally avert my attention back to the show, I wouldn’t have the slightest clue of what was going on because no one said a word, they would just say “Nug Nug” over and over in a variety of different expressions. Yes, I know that the reason behind this was so people who come from different linguistic backgrounds can appreciate the show, but it didn’t appeal to me in my youth when I had the attention span of a fish. Despite the fact that I wasn’t too crazy about the lack of dialogue, all of my friends liked the show and I didn’t want to be that weirdo in the group who didn’t like it, so I lied and said it was the best show out there. Plus, the one episode I watched and actually paid attention to, it was an episode where Pingu got lost because he ran away from home after he got into a fight with his parents and it made me cry. Don’t judge, I was just a child and it traumatized me.

Carly Basch, Life EditorFurbies. I had a furby and it was out to get me. It watched every single move of mine with those large, robotic eyes. I could never understand its furbish shouts which would go on forever and in order to feed it, you had to stick your finger in its mouth (I’m being dramatic but it adds to the story. Think about it though: Just a sec Jimmy, I have to feed my furby!shoves finger inside furby’s mouth — very strange indeed). When I read the manual of how to take care of my furby, I found out that one day it would become ‘smart enough’ to learn my name. I thought I had control over my furby but I didn’t; it had a mind of its own. The only thing I knew was certain was if I put my furby in a dark place and made no movements or sounds around it, the furby wouldn’t wake up. And then, one night when I was sleeping and the furby was shoved in my dark closet, I woke up to a Cock-a-doodle-doooo! I decided to never see my furby ever again after that.

Nick Lachance, Photography Manager: Well since I’m too old to remember my childhood I’ll focus on your generation’s “hip” trends. Crap I can’t even remember those… Oh wait there’s one, Finger Boards, seriously, what the fuck? Everytime I saw a commercial, which was rare because I didn’t have a TV growing up (yes this was also before the internet was widespread, I stared at a lot of walls as a child) I would sit in bewilderment wondering what kind of kid would possibly want to spend time attempting kickflips with their middle and index fingers?! Grow a fucking pair and get a real skateboard (this is meant as gender nonspecific, girls can get some balls and get on a board too). I did, and I was 21 when I tried and failed miserably. But I can tell you that even though my adventure into the world of rolling wood objects ended in permanent scarring, the memories of that painful, blood soaked summer are more rewarding than any blister you could ever get from Finger Boarding. There are more productive ways to get those on your hands anyway.

Kate Turner, Photography Manager: I cannot express how much I loved the 90s. Movies were awesome, TV was awesome, toys were awesome and everything was sparkly. Pokemon cards, Nano Babies, Furbies, Spice Girls Barbies, Spyro on Playstation, Power Rangers, Beanie Babies, Polly Pockets, Crazy Bones… I loved it all. I pity children in today’s age who are forced to live without knowing how awesome being a kid in the 90s was. To this day however, there is one toy that still terrifies and confuses me, ‘Trolls.’ Who in the hell invented Trolls? Naked, crazy-eyed, wrinkly-faced demons with rainbow hair and jewels on their freaking belly buttons. That is just not right. I don’t understand how they were supposed to be enjoyable for children to play with. Look at their faces, they cannot be trusted. I didn’t trust them when I was six, and I sure as hell don’t trust them now.

Katelyn Cullum, Lead Reporter: The skip-it toy was the most annoying thing I’ve ever owned. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, it was that toy that went around your ankle and had a spinning thing at the end that kept track of the number of times you skipped it around you. Needless to say, my lack of coordination made this extremely dangerous for me, thus resulting in numerous tearful walks home from school because I had fallen and scrapped some limb while trying to beat my sister on our silly skip-its. The up side? Mine was pink and sparkly, and I’m pretty positive it lit up. At least I fell with style.

Justin Fauteux, Editor-in-Chief: I guess I should thank my parents for preventing me from getting caught up in the bullshit, waste-of-recess fad that was Crazy Bones. My parents saw what a pointless phenomenon this was and refused to buy me the endless cast of differently-shaped characters, and even then, I was thankful. There I’d be at recess looking for enough people to play a game of football, but everyone was too busy rolling pieces of plastic towards a line. So to prove just how stupid Crazy Bones were, I started using rocks to win games of ‘over the line’ (is that what it was called?), even against the dreaded Eggy. Yeah, I made a lot of my friends cry that way.

Stephanie Truong, Graphics Editor: I suppose I disliked this childhood phenomenon because I was forbidden to have one, but I really don’t like the idea of an Easy Bake Oven. First of all, the oven is essentially just a light bulb encased in plastic, and these “treats” were all probably a chemical shit storm. I mean, how on earth can a light bulb effectively bake something? I never even got to eat one of these treats, but I am certain they were questionable. It is just unfathomable.

Marissa Evans, Lead Reporter: When I was a kid, my parents were really strict about the movies and TV shows that I was allowed to watch. In retrospect, it was good parenting on their part that I wasn’t allowed to watch Austin Powersat age nine. However, as with all things when you’re a kid, if all of your friends are watching a TV show and talking about it all the time, then naturally you want to watch it too! When I was in grade 4 the fad (the reason for this still evades me) was to watch Survivor. I guess this was back when it first came out; it was pretty popular, but I don’t think its target audience was fourth graders. Nevertheless, my friends enjoyed watching it and talking about who got kicked off each week. I felt left out, but was never allowed to watch the show. By the time my parents let me see it, the fad had faded and I realized it wasn’t all that great anyways. A similar situation arose when I was in grade eight and everyone was going crazy over The O.C.. This time, though, I just wasn’t interested in watching it. Maybe the reason I didn’t like it was because one of the characters was named ‘Marissa’. That annoying thing would happen where you hear your name, ask “What?” and get “Oh, not you” in reply. That gets old after a while. But even now I’ll take Community over Grey’s Anatomy any day.

Justin Smirlies, Managing Editor: News: This answer may surprise pretty much every 90s and 80s kid out there, and for that, please don’t hurt me. The one childhood pop cultural sensation or phenomenon that I did not like — and I guess could not — was Pokemon. What’s that? Yeah, you heard me, Pokemon. The reason I don’t like it is probably more out of spite because of my parents. The younger version of myself, who tended to drift from other children on the playground and play with Power Rangers instead, was never allowed to purchase, beg, or ask for Pokemon cards. I had the game on my oversized old Gameboy, but I was too impatient to really get into it. And the only Pokemon that I wanted to catch was Pikachu, and he was no where to be found in the game (if you didn’t have Pokemon Yellow). But yeah, the weird little Pokemon are cute and all, but I don’t know, it’s probably a better thing that I didn’t cry at recess when a fourth grader stole my holographic Charizard.

Wade Thompson, Visual Director: Mine plays well with Smirlies’ answer actually. While I was one of those kids who was bitten by the Japanamation mosquito that was Pokemon, I was never, ever a fan of it’s companion piece,Dragonball Z. I would come home after school and watch my usual block of TV, that featured a little bit of Arthur, and then Pokemon and of course The Powerpuff Girls (if you’re telling me you didn’t watch Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup as a kid, you’re a damn liar). But after those shows, Goku and the rest of the “Z” gang would come on and I would always, always change the channel. I had no interest. My friends would gather at school the next day and discuss just how awesome the previous day’s episode was, but I was in the dark, and didn’t care. I considered it too far below me to give two craps about these characters that were demigods (??) who could fly around on clouds (??) and were of different lizard species sometimes (??). To this day I really don’t have any idea what the show was about, and I still have no interest. I’m proud to say I do not know the meaning of “kamaya-may-HA!!”

Lizz DiCesare, Campus News Editor: The 90s were great. Unlike some people here, I loved Pokemon and Pingu, had an Easy Bake Oven, collected all the Crazy Bones, fought with my brothers to play with their finger boards, and may or may not still own a Goku alarm clock. The one thing I never understood, however, were gel pens. What the shit were those things all about? Not only did they come in the most disgusting fluorescent colours, they were sparkly, smeared everywhere and required their own stupid black paper because the ink never showed up on anything else. It wasn’t even that I wasn’t allowed to own them, I had plenty, but spent my time flinging them at other people in class rather than writing with them. No, I still see no purpose to a sparkly, bright pink pen. Not only are they just plain silly, they hurt my eyes to read. So please, don’t ever write me a letter with a gel pen.

If you have a pop culture question you’d like answered in Open Cord, we’re all ears. Email your queries to editor@thecord.ca.


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