You Can't Do That On Television..
posted by Jen on 7/27/01
Note to Canadian fans: Please don't take this little article seriously. This is purely a piece of fiction; a story line created because, really, I have no opinions and I needed a good topic for the week. In reality, I love Canadians! Really I do! I practically feed off Jeopardy and old episodes of Family Ties, just to see my favorite Canooks in action! Please don't flood my inbox with hate mail. I love you guys!
Note to non-Canadian fans: Do you really think there's anything funny about Fascism?!?!
Let's be honest here. We all used to watch this show when we were little. Although the humor was canned, the plots nonexistent, and the actors not so attractive, we somehow were compelled to watch Kevin eat contaminated Barth burgers and Alisdair get slimed for the tenth time in a row, week after week, year after year for over a decade. But have you ever considered why the plots were always so scatter-brained yet mysteriously coherent, why the same select group of scenes were drummed into our mind in an oddly familiar mantra, and why the producers, Roger Price and Geoffrey Darby were "too cheap" to afford to hire someone else to play the role of the adult male??
It's a dirty little secret I like to call neo-Fascism. When most of us think of the word Fascism, we think of an old regime started by a big, fat dictator named Mussolini. We think mass hysteria, Nazi Germany, anti-Semitism, even brainwashing, hypnotism. The basic textbook definition deems Fascism a government system marked by a centralized dictatorship, stringent socioeconomic controls, and often-belligerent nationalism. We also know that Fascism completely renounces the idea of peace; in fact, one of the main tenets of Fascism is that nobility can only be achieved by those who are at continuously at war! Come on! War? What is it good for?!? Absolutely nothin'! Fascist regimes laugh at democratic governments, proclaiming that the majority is incapable of making sound decisions. As you can guess, such a regime does not call for universal suffrage; so all of those living in such a dictatorship are forced to play on unequal ground from the time they are just a glimmer in the pants. Few realize that Fascism is actually a plebeian movement in origin, ultimately financed by capitalist powers. Question: What do you get when you cross a penis and a potato? Answer: A dick 'tater. Ha! That's my little Fascist joke! OK, I suck.
As one might guess, WWII did little to thwart the persistence of Fascist tendencies in modern-day Italy and Germany. But does anyone realize that Fascism is slowly but steadily rearing it's ugly head in a small little region in the capital city of Canada? No, why would anyone think that? Canada is just a happy, peaceful country. Canadians love Americans; in fact the very livelihood of their economy depends heavily on American tourism.
But, and this is a bigger but than any ghetto booty you'll see in a Sir Mix-a-Lot video, Canadians never miss an opportunity to make it clear that Canada is quite separate and distinct from America. Their very existence is predicated upon the fact that they are in North "America" but not part of "America." Heck, they didn't join us in the American Revolution, because they would rather be ruled by Brits in a totally separate continent. The majority of Canadians are very happy to live in their federalist world, to nod to Americans as a friendly and culturally similar group. But, listen well: there is a small sect of Canadians living in a tiny region of Ottawa that is planning an ass whooping the likes of which most of us couldn't conceive, and I'm telling you, the foreshadowing is all there in "You Can't Do That On Television."
My aim is not to destroy your childhood fantasies Orwell-style; I just think it's time you know that "You Can't Do That On Television" was and is just a mere façade for something a lot more heady indeed. For over 10 years, the show served as a vehicle for that small minority of discontent Ottawans trying to impose their Fascist regime upon unassuming Americans. They knew they could pull the wool over the glazed eyes of their silly neighbors in the U.S. who were happily eating hamburgers and apple pie and watching a bunch of "normal" kids get slimed and pied every 5 seconds.
Let's start with the very opening song. That unidentifiable circus music you hear in the beginning of the show; the song you know you've heard somewhere but just can't put a finger on when or where. That's the same music you hear in old WWII films, the same music that's played as American POW's are shot to death. Why do you think the very last image you are left with in the opening credits is the picture of a scary man with a face splitting apart as the bloody red words "You Can't Do That On Television" pour down in tiny rivulets?
And what of Les Lye, Mr. Everyman, the guy who played the part of
1. Principal, teacher, et al.
2. El Capitano
3. Senator Prevert
4. Barth, the burger maker
5. Production assistant
I bet you thought Nickelodeon couldn't afford to hire another adult figure, huh. Little known fact: Les Lye held the record for longest run on the show, playing all of the authoritarian roles. Just goes to show, people die, people move on, but the dictator remains in power. This was a very clever move on the part of Roger and Geoffrey, to enunciate the fact that eventually, one day there will be only one man manipulating the puppet strings. Let's examine those roles in further detail:
1. Principal, teacher, etc.: Does anyone realize that this "teacher" never actually taught a single lesson, but always stood in front of the class talking nonsense, or throwing people in detention for no reason? But the kids pretty much complied with his demands, no matter how ridiculous. Blind obedience is a scary thing.
2. El Capitano, the leader of the execution scenes: Now, I'm not out to insult your intelligence here: Children chained to a wall while Mr. Mustachio chants "Ready…Aim…Fire!!" pretty much sums up my whole point.
3. Senator Prevert, the slovenly father with senatorial privilege: Again, a blatant statement of political discontent. Do you realize that Canadian senators are appointed by the government? Fascists don't want these "perverts" (yeah, bet you didn't pick up on the play on words, huh) in office; they just want one central authoritarian to rule the world! Yah!
4. Barth, the burger maker: Now, even if you've only seen the show once in your life, you can probably remember the disgusting scenes where the kids would bite into a burger and complain about the awful taste. "God Barth! This tastes like feet! This tastes like sweaty palms! Like clockwork, Barth would inevitably deliver the canned line "What do you think is in the burgers?" I'm not making this stuff up here. This is a man who killed people to make burgers. The shit is wrong.
look where he's moving that child's head
Now, let's discuss some of the recurring themes of the show…and scare ourselves silly.
This was a regular theme of the show. Les Lye would don a long white lab jacket and strap Alisdair or Lisa into a chair and feed them some bit of silliness, and Alisdair or Lisa would emerge from the chair repeating and internalizing whatever it was that Les said. He would hold their eyes open with pincers, play Beethoven's Fifth over and over and make them watch the most horrid scenes of ultra-violence. (If you haven't seen A Clockwork Orange, you're probably wondering what the hell I'm talking about). Of course, it wasn't quite this extreme, but these brainwashing scenes definitely reappeared throughout the years. No further explanation needed here.
Locker room scenes
Did anyone find it weird that the entire cast (with the exception of Les Lye) shut themselves up in lockers to tell jokes that they collectively agreed were stupid? Have you ever shut yourself up in a locker as a gag? And told really dumb jokes like my penis/potato one just because? This just furthers my point that the cast members were mere marionettes, forced to tell stupid jokes fed to them by the producers, forced to stand in disgusting lockers (think gas chambers) while their ruler was plotting a scheme to take over the world…
Do these kids look like they're voluntarily standing nudie? Do you realize that people are at their most vulnerable when they're naked? And look at Les Lye, the smug dictator. Still clothed. The sick fuck.
Think of the catchphrase that induced a sliming: "I don't know." Nowhere in any type of democratic governance is anyone punished for not knowing the answer to something. Furthermore, consider yourself in a similar situation. If you see slime coming out of a ceiling, sure, you might let a few drops hit you but then you would quickly jump away to avoid further damage. These characters would literally stand there helpless as the slime poured down the ceiling for ten, sometimes fifteen-second periods. Learned helplessness. Another consequence of mass hysteria…
If you recall, they were selling "Slime" soap and shampoo for a while to innocent kids all over the U.S. Just like the sick Nazis were selling bars of human soap during their reign of terror.
A pleasant mix of plebes and bourgeoisie on this show. Just like the Fascists.
Jagged little pill
Let me go down on you in the theater.
As we all know, Alanis was an original YCDTOTV cast member.
Lyrics from "Thank U" (I actually visited the Alanis Morissette Files on Geocities for this shit)
thank you India
thank you terror
thank you disillusionment
thank you frailty
thank you consequence
thank you thank you silence
I think you all get the idea.
Episode 82 revealed that ALL of the characters were direct descendants of Napoleon. Sick Emperor of France just like Sick Tyrant of Italy. Much ultra violence indeed.
And for the final clincher:
The 1988 episodes
Oh that's right, there were no episodes in 1988. Why not? The following text is copied and pasted directly from the YCDTOTV site: Roger Price moved to France and CJOH refused to produce the show without him. Hmmm…isn't France a socialist republic? Hmmm….Wasn't it Trotsky himself who said that Fascism derives its power from the Socialist movement…
Read this forwards and backwards if you need more convincing. Able was I ere I saw Elba.
Are you convinced yet?? Are you scared to death?? How's this for scarier…Les Lye said he's considering participation in a sequel. Forewarned is forearmed, folks. Out with the Ottawans!!!!