My friend Alex Remington introduced me to classic, surrealist Nickelodeon kids’ show The Adventures of Pete & Pete a while back, and its awesomeness put it on my must-give list for every person I know under the age of eighteen. Recently, he scored an interview Will McRobb, the show’s creator, and the two chatted about the show’s fantastic use of indie rock (literally everyone from Iggy Pop to Debbie Harry dropped by to guest):
“It was only partly about making kids watch shows, and partly making a place kids could call their own,” explains McRobb. “Back in those days, it seemed like Nick was the anti-Disney, trying capture what it’s really like to be a kid, and not be so sanitized or so structured.” And instead of cute animals singing songs, they had jangle-pop. “I forget why it was so easy to put in A-level indie rock,” but “anybody who saw the actual specials got to hear Yo La Tengo.”
This gets at a point I wanted to make in my last post over at Ta-Nehisi’s place. I pretty firmly believe that making sure you provide appropriate content to children doesn’t remotely trade off with giving them things that are awesome. There’s Cee-Lo I feel comfortable giving ten-year-olds. But it’s definitely easier to default, and to provide children pop that’s blandly appropriate, rather that looking to challenge kids at appropriate rates. I think the networks have latter defaulted to that former position, and it’s a real shame.