Houston Texans running back Arian Foster likes the Space Shuttle and the Toyota Tundra. He doesn’t much care for Caillou, that infantilized, PBS whiner who inspires parents to daydream about slapping an animated child–and ponder just what would be so wrong with that.
“I can tolerate most of these kid shows,” the Houston Texan tweeted, “but caillou is unbearable. There’s no plot and the animation is avg. Can’t take it.” That’s a kind sort of criticism. It’s not Caillou’s lack of coherent storyline or the annoying soft graphics that makes parents want to kill their television. It’s Caillou, a pathetic complainer whose favorite phrase is “I can’t” and whose normal behavior involves nagging his too-tolerant mom and dad. Caillou’s mom, who surely confuses Xanax for one of the four food groups, speaks to the bizarrely bald child as though he (she? it?) suffers from a mental handicap and understands English as a second language.
Caillou’s mom practices a more insidious form of child abuse than even the kind that lies dormant in the violent fantasies that Caillou conjures up in the moms at home. Treating your kid in a manner that ensures that he remains trapped in two-year-old dependency even as he grows into an adult body is legal but too common. I blame Caillou’s parents more than Caillou himself, herself, or itself. By “parents,” I include the unanimated Canadians who brought him to life with their evil magic crayons. PBS, and the production company to the Great White North responsible for unleashing Caillou on the world, would perform a more socially responsible act if they simply ran Faces of Death on a loop in the place of Caillou cartoons.
Caillou threatens children more than bullies or boogeymen. He instills in impressionable viewers the fear of bullies and boogeymen that of course bring both to life. In fact, the appropriately yellow-shirted wuss comes across as terrified of everything. In a promisingly titled episode called “Caillou Is No Longer Afraid,” the protagonist expresses terror at the house of a neighbor named Mr. Hinkle. Exposing the lie of the earlier show’s title, “Caillou Is Afraid of the Dark” details the child’s run-in with his scary blanket. The painful 92-episode run continued much like this for thirteen years. Mercifully, production on new episodes has ceased. Inexplicably, PBS runs repeats much the way a barbed-wire reeducation camp would in a dystopian novel.
This stunts the development of youngsters. Children take on the personality of flesh-and-bone Xerox machines, copying all that they see and hear and projecting it outward. Arian Foster, raising two children with his wife and allegedly awaiting another one from a smoking-hot University of Houston co-ed, understands this. Who wants to breed a generation of Caillous?
Close encounters of the Caillou kind may help explain his allegedly less-than-thrilled reaction to welcoming another child. “You just can’t bring a life into this world under these circumstances,” states a text message the baby mama claims came from the running back. “It’s not fair to anyone. It’s not just about you.” Do the “circumstances” refer to the fact that Foster already has a family or the fact that we live in a world with scourges like Caillou? That, like whether the paternity suit masks a shakedown attempt, isn’t exactly clear.
But Caillou presents no such ambiguities. It’s a Canadian/PBS plot to slowly transform Americans into a nation of whiners. At least one man does something about this. “I’m sure if we rally together we can get it off air,” Foster tweeted earlier this week. “My mentions are full of caillou disgust lol.”