I know that men can become attached to their tools and machines. When you start having conversations with your equipment, though, you might have a bit of a problem. Next up: two children’s shows feature talking tools and machines. (What is it with these talking inanimate object shows? Are there not enough animate objects to make shows about? Like, say, giant mutant dogs? Nevermind.) Our first contestant is:
|Bob the Builder|
Bob is a likable enough guy. He is a builder – hence the name of the show. But he doesn’t do the job alone. He also works with Wendy (they’re just friends) and a lot of different vroom-vroom machines, making him a natural favorite for boys. These machines of his, though, are not ordinary machines. They are living machines, which technically means they are both Bob’s equipment AND employees. I’m not sure how you would figure out your taxes in that sort of situation. Are they dependents or work related expenses?
Either way, they are a little unsettling. Machines were created because they offered many of the positives of an employee (working until they break) with none of the downsides (expecting a paycheck). But here Bob has to deal with both. So you have to wonder – does he pay the machines? If not, are they slaves, or even weirder, adopted children? They do act like children, often running off and doing their own thing and messing up Bob’s projects. He and Wendy do seem like parents, always disciplining their construction equipment. And from what I can tell, just like children, the machines have no freaking off switch. What a pain.
The machines had names. I don’t remember all of them, but there was a cement mixer named Dizzy that particularly got on my nerves. That one was supposed to be a she, I think, although I don’t want to know how you would determine that. She had an irritating voice, and was always spinning around, cement sloshing around her insides. Then there was a crane named Lofty, who suffered from self-esteem issues. I wish I was making this up. Whenever the crew would yell their catch phrase – later cleverly stolen by Obama as a campaign slogan – “Can we build it? Yes we can!”, the crane would always add, “Yeah, I think so.” Because you can never be too sure of your abilities, even when you were specifically built to do the job.
|Haha, welcome to the
Oh, no, I almost forgot Spud. No, he wasn’t a talking potato; that would be silly. He was a talking scarecrow, and a real jerk too. I wanted one of the machines to “accidentally” rip the thing apart. Spud proves that the delusions extend past the construction equipment, although interestingly enough, not to the animal characters. The idea that these machines really are alive reminds me of a Stephen King horror novel, so I’m going to say that they must be Bob and Wendy’s delusions. Of course, I’m not certain that Wendy – and the other people in the town – are all having the delusion. Maybe they are just humoring Bob, because they’re afraid he’ll snap like that Killdozer guy. If you haven’t seen him, you should really check him out on youtube. Talk about a trip.
According to Wikipedia, “The show emphasizes conflict resolution, co-operation, socialization and various learning skills.” Well, okay, I guess it emphasizes all these things, but personally, I think Bob would be better off getting his socialization AWAY from the construction equipment. Just me, though.
But it’s not just Bob who has a strange attachment to work related objects. There’s also:
Handy Manny is a lot like Bob, only he’s Hispanic, and he talks to tools, not construction equipment. His “friends” all ride around together in his tool box, until he needs to take them out to help him with some project. This show came on after my children were a little old for it, thank goodness, so I don’t have quite as much experience with it. I have seen bits and pieces of the show, as well as the toys, and it’s enough to be a least a little curious about the prospect of animate tools.
I had to look up the characters on Wikipedia, since I didn’t know their names. I think I am even more disturbed now. Observe:
Turner: a flat head screwdriver with a fondness for babies (don’t even want to think about it)
|Imagine opening your toolbox
to find . . . .THIS
Pat: a stupid hammer (maybe they shouldn’t have pounded him against nails)
Squeeze: a female pair of pliers (again I don’t want to know how they tell)
Rusty: a paranoid monkey wrench
Dusty: a female handsaw. Don’t make her angry, she’ll cut you! And laugh while you’re bleedin’!
Flicker: a bilingual flash light. He flashes his light when excited. Okay.
There are others, but I got bored going through the list. I think they’re enough, anyway. Could you imagine if your tools could talk back to you? Now I’m not a mechanic, but I do use tools. I have to wonder how pleased my pencil would be with me, what with repeatedly shaving his head off, then forcing him to leave a trail of his lead blood on my paper, just so I can write.
|Wrench: My teeth hurt
Hammer: Bang. . . bang . . . bang
Manny’s tools are part of his team, and his good pals. No one else seems to think it’s strange that he talks to them, and they talk back, so maybe they’re humoring him as well. I’m guessing he and Bob have the same psychiatrist. That would make things simpler. Anyway, I’m sure you’re thinking that I’m overanalyzing a cute kid’s show. But think about it. Especially the hammer. He’s pounding the thing, over and over again, right in the face. Is there a CPS for tools, because that seems a bit much. No wonder the thing is a moron; all his brain cells were pounded out. And all so Manny could get a nail in some wood. Are you happy, Manny?
Then there’s Dusty, who you must remember was used as an effective weapon in many horror movies. I could just see that freak scarecrow grabbing Dusty, jumping into Muck the bulldozer and going on a homicidal rampage through cartoon land. Let’s hope they stop at the World Tree on their way.
Talking construction equipment/ tools: Yes
Tool Abuse: Yes
Delusional characters: Yes
Didacticism: Just Weird