Sunday, April 02, 2006

Jeff Fatt phatter than Chow Yun Fat? At least among the tykes

Just a quick post to note that The New York Times Magazine had a lengthy story today on the "world's number one preschool band," which would be, of course, The Wiggles. (The color-coordinated quartet booked a cool AU$45 mill last year from their prodigious output of performances, shows, and licensed chazerai--a haul that has apparently made them the current best-paid entertainers in Australia, topping Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, both Minogue sisters et al. Even "Passion of the Mel" Gibson? Shocking. It helps that the Wiggs have begun to franchise.)

So, anyway, it strikes me that Jeff "Purple Wiggle" Fatt may actually be the most beloved Asian performer in the world. There are other actors, musicians and the like who may be more famous, but as the most popular member of the most popular kiddie group in creation, he commands a degree of starry-eyed, unquestioning adoration of which few celebs can boast.

My own take: The Wiggles are pretty great--at first I was a bit creeped out by them, but they are far from untalented, write catchy songs with positive if limited messages (veggies good...dancing good...friendly pirates very good, arr), and seem to earnestly care about their pint-sized fans.

Can't say I dig the whole "Wake Up Jeff!" thing, though.


sume said...

I thought they were cool, too until I couldn't get their songs out of my head or the kiddos came into my room at 6am screaming "Wake up, Jeff!" All four of my kids were huge fans of theirs and my youngest still loves them. Wiggles songs have been played and sung in our house for about three years straight. Still it's better than Barney or oh gawd, KidsBop.

papa2hapa said...

My daughter insists I sing her songs to sleep...the repetoire of course includes several Wiggles tunes. I don't like the whole "Wake up, Jeff!" bit neither. It seems a bit narcophobic...if that's a word. Why is he always sleeping? I agree, though, better than KidsBop or Veggie Tales any day.

rachel rock n roll star said...

I went on a retreat last year where we were woken up every morning by music blaring. Now any time I see fruit salad, I start singing "fruit salad! yummy yummy!".

Yeah, my little sister LOVED Barney when she was little. She'd be embarrassed if she knew I was telling the whole internet.

Didi said...

The interesting thing about Jeff, ime, was watching Noodle go from identifying her father* with Greg (both are tall and lanky) to one day making the connection and identifying her father with Jeff (because they're both asian). It was like all of the sudden the "race" switch turned on in her head.

*papa2hapa, above

InstantYang said...

wow, dana, that's really interesting. i wonder what the trigger age for consciousness of race is? not that she's, like, marching in rallies or anything...

i'm guessing it's probably more on the order of recognizing subtler features like eye shape rather than, say, height--but at some point kids must be able to group together asian people as a "people." i wonder what age that generally is?

also, i think jeff fatt may actually be hapa, though it's kinda tough to tell for sure.

very interesting thought.


Didi said...

IY - According to everything I've read, the ability to identify race happens around 3 (which was about right with Noodle - she'll be 4 in a few weeks).

Even though Noodle identifies herself as asian (you can see a picture of her if you click on papa2hapa's blog), it doesn't faze her at all that daddy is asian and mommy is white. It's just "awareness" at this point, it doesn't seem to matter at all one way or another.

daddy in a strange land said...

Check out the article linked in our earlier post, "The Fourth R," for some interesting stuff on this.

Lisa said...

My daughter just turned 3 yrs old. She has been addicted to The Wiggles for a good year. She is Chinese-American and Jeff is her favorite.

She has been picking out people as "Chinese like me" for at least 6 months. I am thrilled that she can see the differences in ethnic features of people and I hope that she is learning that the world is full of diiferences and that she continue to respect them as certainly different but ultimately the same.

We are going to see The Wiggles live tomorrow for the first time and all she talks about is Jeff. She has drawn him pictures today and is convinced she will meet him. I hope our excellent seats will at least give her the opp to shake his hand.

All in all, I am happy someone like Jeff exists. He's a great kids role model for any child of color. And whether he is Asian or not, if an Asian child sees him as the same as them - great! He plays music, is happy, and is a non-violent character for them to aspire to be as they grow.