A couple weeks ago I was talking to my students about blogging and the sometimes reviewing that I do with Parent Bloggers Network, and yada yada yada speech communication model. (I don't remember how I tied it in to the course content, but let's assume it was.) At one point a student asked "So do you watch Barney?"
Funny you should ask, I said. Very funny.
I admit that I didn't exactly have fond feelings of Barney growing up. I think it's because he first surfaced 20 years ago, which would have put me at the age when I was spurning most children's shows (except DuckTales and Gummi Bears, naturally) and child actors (except those cool kids on The All New Mickey Mouse Club). Big purple dinosaurs and singing children seemed...odd. Kids hugging and sharing and being too cheerful was certainly not what I was interested in.
Then I pretty much forgot all about Barney until I got a DVD from Parent Bloggers Network in the mail a few weeks ago. Ah, I said to myself. I have to watch Barney.
I kind of put it off for a few days, not because I thought Sydney wouldn't like it but because I thought it was going to be really annoying. I remembered my general disdain for child actors, and wasn't sure if I could manage introducing a new crew of kids into our household. Eventually, I decided to watch it by myself. Without Sydney. If it was too terrible, Sydney would never be the wiser to all things Barney.
Having rarely seen Barney on tv, I don't know how this compares to the tv shows, but it turns out that this particular DVD--Barney: Celebrating Around the World--is darn entertaining. As soon as I saw it, I knew Sydney would like it. Turns out she liked it so much she took it with her up to my parents' house, and watched it with my mom, who made a point of telling me this past weekend that even she enjoyed it. The songs, the dancing, the cultural education--it's really actually pretty nifty.
The premise is that Barney and his friends get on a magical train and travel throughout the world--Rio de Janeiro, Ireland, India, Kenya, Japan--meeting children from other countries and learning how other cultures celebrate and dance. When we watch the Irish dancers, Sydney gets up and tries to imitate them (okay, I admit it--as soon as I saw the Irish dancers then I knew I had to show Sydney the movie. IRISH DANCERS! IRELAND! I've had a long love of all things Irish, remember?). When we see the girls from India dancing, Sydney says, "They're from India. India is a long ways away from here. Mariah [our friend] is from India." And then I showed her where India was on a globe. Because Barney inspired her.
I'm sure that one of the reasons why Sydney loves the movie so much is because of the dancing and the singing, and I love that she also gets to learn a little bit about other cultures in the process of that. Sure, the other little dinosaur pals are sort of strange (I find myself wondering who the people are inside the costumes...), and there is one song that I'm not real keen on (about getting nervous), but kids love to watch other kids perform, and that's what endears Barney to children.
If your pre-school kids like Barney then obviously they'll love this movie. If your kids don't know who Barney is (like Sydney didn't) then this is great introduction because it's not going to get on your nerves. If you're not keen on Barney yourself, I would say give this one a chance. National dancing...cultural education...IRISH DANCERS. Very cool. Plus, Barney's been around for 20 years, so I have to admit that he must be doing something right in educating preschoolers.
The movie has a run-time of 54 minutes, and goes on sale today over at Amazon. And hey, if you're a local dance fan, Sydney's dance studio is doing an Irish Dancing night next month that I think might be fun to go see. I'll drop you details if you're interested in going.