I genuinely believe in the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI). Encouraging children to understand their emotions, talk about them and work with them should be encouraged – something we always strive for with our sons.
But I can’t help feeling Bing bunny takes it to the extreme.
For those of you not up to speed with Bing, let me help you out: he’s an animated bunny, who lives with a knitted creature called Flop. I’m not sure whether Flop is Bing’s adopted father, guardian, or has some other, less formal connection, but either way the two live together in a kind of carer/child relationship.
To further complicate matters, all children in the programme are at least three times the size of the adults. But let’s not get bogged down with details.
Anyway, each episode focuses on some non-event involving Bing and various other characters, at the end of which Bing relays what has happened, and talks about how the non-event made him feel.
Thanks to my sons I’ve lost hours of my life watching the hapless bunny’s exploits, and my conclusion is Bing needs to chill out. He’s sad. All. The. Time.
Being in touch with one’s emotions is one thing, but if Bing carries on like this he’s going to get crucified once he starts school. He’s on a permanent downer, seeking misery in the most positive of situations. Besides, having people walk around him on eggshells and caving in to his every need is not setting him up for real life – real life being that thing which is occasionally unfair, where money doesn’t grow on trees, and where everyone must adhere to rules every now and then.
Take the Ice Cream episode, for instance. After chasing around the park to catch up with Gilly’s ice cream van, Bing and Flop sit down to enjoy a cornet; Bing drops his and has a meltdown.
Let’s put this into context: Flop has humoured Bing enough to run around a park chasing an ice cream van – no mean feat if, like Flop, you’re the size of a gerbil. He’s then forked out for a carrot cornet, only to watch Bing drop it on the floor.
Ice creams do not come cheap, particularly not from mobile vans, but Flop does not berate him for being careless or clumsy – the token response I’d likely have received as a nipper. Instead, Flop shares his fruit kebab with Bing so the butter-fingered bunny isn’t upset.
How does Bing repay him? He tells the audience about how sad he was.
Then there’s the Surprise Machine episode. Again, Flop finds some cash from his bottomless wallet so Bing can get a toy from the machine in Amma’s shop. Bing wants the blue toy. Not surprisingly, he gets the green toy instead. Even less surprisingly, he gets a monk on.
At no point does Flop suggest Bing ought to be grateful for getting any toy. Nor does he flinch when Bing throws kindness in his face by pushing the toy onto the floor, to express how p*ssed he is that he didn’t get the blue one.
Fortunately for Bing, the toy doesn’t break when it smashes to the floor – although I feel that would have taught the ungrateful rabbit an important lesson in why you should take care of your belongings. Instead, its impact on the floor causes the toy to reveal its hidden bouncing powers, convincing the mardy mammal it’s not so bad after all, thus putting an end to his whining.
Each episode follows a similar format: Bing breaks something/drops something/doesn’t get what he wants, so someone steps in and panders to his misfortune, eventually making him happy again.
You might think I’m overthinking what’s essentially a fictional, kids’ TV programme, but that darned bunny’s negative outlook is starting to impact on our lives.
It was my partner who first noticed our eldest son, Eric, began whinging a lot more around the time he started watching Bing. His fears were confirmed when our youngest son, Bear, snatched a car off Eric’s playmat, prompting Eric to unleash an overly dramatic, obviously fake cry, which he finished off by exclaiming, “Bear’s taken my toy and now I have nothing” – which just so happens to be one of Bing’s trademark phrases.
I had presumed other parents might feel the same way, however an episode at a recent children’s party suggests otherwise. Eric had a meltdown, and my partner – as way of an explanation – turned to another parent and said it was “down to watching too much Bing”. The other parent’s bewildered look confirmed not everyone views Bing in the same way we do.
I reckon the programme’s creators would do well to focus on Bing’s mate Pando instead. Pando loves nothing more than sliding around the floor, breakdancing, or taking off his trousers in public. I strongly suspect Pando will not feature in the show’s possible spin-off, ‘Bing The Teenage Years’, because by that point he’ll probably be in a young offenders’ institute, but nevertheless he’s a joy to watch.
Alternatively, the show’s producers might want to make a few episodes where Bing has a great time, finds nothing to cry about, and ends by telling the audience how jolly fabulous it is to be alive. It might not have the same dramatic appeal to children. It might even discourage my kids from watching Bing all together. But as far as I’m concerned, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.