Friday, March 02, 2012

Don't try to wiggle out of this one

Who knew the world of children's television programming could be so brutal, so cruel, so... wiggly?

Word out of Australia is that the original Yellow Wiggle is coming back to take over the part from the Replacement Yellow Wiggle. Of course I realize many of you have no idea who The Wiggles are. I also realize that another large percentage of you are pretending not to know who The Wiggles are but you were forced to listen to the songs and watch the TV shows and videos with children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or kids who wandered through the house. But for those of you who truly have no clue, The Wiggles are a four-man group of children's performers from Down Under who have made approximately $578 ka-jillion by singing silly songs and making funny faces at kids. Not bad work if you can get it, eh?

These four guys dress in four different colors -- Anthony (the Blue Wiggle), Murray (the Red Wiggle), Jeff (the Purple Wiggle), and Greg (the original Yellow Wiggle). And while my daughter was an infant through preschool age, these four kids crooners were consistently on the TV in one form or another. And I will admit, that I much preferred The Wiggles singing about Fruit Salad (Yummy, Yummy) than listening to the rantings of a purple dinosaur.

Then about five years ago, the Yellow Wiggle, Greg, had to retire from the group for health reasons. He had fainting spells (which can scare young kids watching their favorite performers in concert) and had such chronic pain that he could only walk using two canes. That does make it hard to wiggle. However now, Greg appears to be back in good health at age 40 and is ready to Wiggle for Dollars once again. But the thing is, while Greg was on the sidelines the group hired another guy to be the lead singer and Yellow Wiggle.

Sam was not only the Replacement Yellow Wiggle, but apparently he wasn't given that lucrative of a deal to pull on the yellow shirt. Of the $578 ka-jillion, Sam was apparently making minimum wage or some such nonsense. He was on a salary as terms of a contract. The reported salary -- $200,000 annually. Certainly I'd take that paycheck for wearing a yellow shirt and singing songs about hot potatoes and the pirate Captain Feathersword, but it's not exactly an equal share of The Wiggles' bankroll.

Now, with Greg again donning the color yellow, Sam is a free agent, dumped back into the unforgiving market of singing and dancing about remembering to wear a sun hat in the summer. And now the backbiting has gone public, with the powers within The Wiggles organization (the Head Wiggler perhaps?) calling poor Sam “a hired hand,” and references to Sam being mocked as the Salaried Wiggle have surfaced. All the silliness makes it sound as if those in The Wiggles organization are perhaps no more mature than the dancing four-year-olds they have been singing to.

I hope it hasn't always been this way. I hope Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Moose weren't snickering at the hem on Mr. Green Jeans' green jeans. I pray that the teacher from Romper Room wasn't making young girls cry by making fun of their hair bows. And I certainly hope that Alan and Daphne didn't leave Shaggy and Scooby-Doo to rot in jail on drug charges because all the sandwiches in the Mystery Machine were eaten by a pair of munchie-ridden beatniks. Maybe the world of kids television has the same motto as that toy store: “I don't want to grow up.” But with my children out of range of these shows, I guess I'll have to wait for grandchildren to give it some further study.

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