Matt McHugh
Matt - Blog - April 2006


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Boy Insults a Sikh with a Strong Badism
April 11, 2006

So, to keep up on my blistering, now-monthly blog entry schedule, here's a funny thing from today.

At dinner, my wife tells my five-year-old boy to tell me what he said to the man at the gas station--a turbaned, bearded Sikh who works the pump (in New Jersey, you can't dispense your own gas... weird state law) at the Delta station. My son turned to me and proudly repeated his bon mot:

"Hey, did you take a shower today? You smell like wet Tech Support with onions."

First off, lest you think he was being racist or picking up on some slur he'd heard from us, you have to realize he was quoting--perfectly--something he saw in a HomeStar Runner cartoon. Actually, a video puppet clip. (For you uninitiated in the "HomeStarmy" I will not try to explain the phenomenon, except to say that it's an online cartoon/video site, only slightly inappropriate for a five-year-old, that I let my son watch because it cracks me up, much to my wife's constant consternation.) He's always quoting or acting out things from HomeStar. My wife has banned the site for weeks at time because she's caught the boy saying "crap" or "freakin'" like Strong Bad. Personally, though I officially discourage such language, I don't fret over it too much. Lord knows he hears worse from me and the missus daily (and she is every bit as bad as me at blurting expletives). Kids are hardwired to delight in repeating naughty things, and there's a lot worse stuff out there he could be exposed too that Strong Bad's snarky non sequiturs. Besides, it's a pretty good line. "You smell like wet Tech Support with onions." Calling it gold may be a stretch, but that's some comic bronze at least--especially when you hear it flawlessly annunciated by a five-year-old.

Anyway, after I got done laughing into my sleeve, I did my best to explain to the boy that, while that may be just a funny thing to say, if you say it to someone who has never seen HomeStar and doesn't know it's a joke, it can sound very mean and can hurt their feelings. Remember, jokes are only funny when everyone knows they're just jokes. So, don't say "crap" or "freakin'" or any of the mean things Strong Bad says to other characters. If you do, you won't be allowed to watch HomeStar anymore. I figured that was about the best way to handle it, short of the all-out ban the wife was pushing for.

Interesting, while I was later bathing my three-year-old girl--which is his designated "computer time"--he was watching some HomeStar cartoons and got really freaked out by a bit where someone found a creepy gremlin hiding in closet. I had to stay in his room an extra half-an-hour and tell him superhero stories just to get his mind off it. So, I think he'll be off HomeStar for a bit anyway. So it goes.

-- mm

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