Barney the Dinosaur: The Pain Behind the Man
Reader, be warned. Don't read this if you are easily offended, as it contains some profanity and references to homosexuality, racial and social politics, and other things. But if you, like me, have a slightly warped sense of humor and some familiarity with children's TV programs, you'll probably enjoy it.
* * *
(On the set ofBarney and Friends, the purple dinosaur is wrapping up his show)
Barney: Well, boys and girls, that's all the time we have for today. Didn't we have a super-dee-duper time singing songs, playing wholesome games, learning to share, and expressing our completely platonic love for one another?
Politically correct kid in wheelchair: I sure did, Barney.
Barney: (Chuckling dorkily) Nobody cares what you think, Johnny. (In a deceptively friendly tone): You're only here due to government requirements for fair representation of handicapped individuals in the media.
Politically correct African-American kid: What about me, Barney?
Barney: (With a dorky smile) You're special too, little Timmy. (Muttering) Lousy racial diversity regulations. (Louder) Well, boys and girls, it's time for us to come together and sing our special song!
(He links arms with a Native American girl and a bespectacled shrimp with a bowl cut)
All sing in unison, slightly off-key:
"I love you, you love me,
We're a physically and culturally diverse family…"
(Song ends, Barney hugs the kids a little too hard)
Wheelchair kid: Ow, Barney, you're hurting me!
Barney: (Tousles kid's hair violently) Oh ho ho Johnny (Jumping up and down and chuckling a bit evilly) you're so silly! You wouldn't want Barney to get in trouble with the network executives, would you, little Johnny?
Wheelchair kid: Uh, my name is Andrew…
Barney: (Ignoring the kid) Well, that's all for today, kids! See you tomorrow! (Bounces off the scene waving)
Cameraman: …AND… we're clear!
Barney: (Wiping his forehead) Thank God. I need a stiff drink. If hear one more handicapped kid laugh in innocent childlike wonder I think I'm going to hurl. I'm going to the break room.
(He exits the studio, kicking the door shut loudly. On the way to the PBS "break room," actually a sort of private club/hangout, he runs into Mister Rogers and Steve from Blues Clues. They are walking a little too close and have their hands in each others' back pockets)
Steve: Hey, Barney. Fred and I were just heading to the break room. Care to join us?
Barney: Yeah, sure. (Cough – queer!)
(They head down a hallway and enter a lounge area complete with bar and dance floor. Inside, YMCA is blaring over the sound system. Tinky-Winky and Dipsy repeatedly bump butts, then all four Teletubbies form a conga line and circle the joint. Elmo is sitting at the bar, taking a long drag on a cigarette. He has clearly had a few too many, as he is reeling about trying to keep his balance on the high stool)
Elmo: Elmo – (hic) – knows how to shake it (waves his spindly arms spastically in the air, then falls off the bar stool and lands on the floor, unconscious)
Mister Rogers: Tsk, tsk. Sesame Street is on in an hour and he'll be in no shape to perform. That just goes to show the dangers of alcohol, kids.
Steve: Who are you talking to, Fred?
Mister Rogers: Sorry. Sometimes I forget when my show is over.
Steve: That's what happens when you forget your medication.
Barney: Get a room, you two.
(Barney crashes on a barstool, all but breaking it under his weight. He signals to the bartender, who happens to be Big Bird)
Big Bird: What can I get you, big guy?
Barney: Gimme your hardest liquor and fast. I need to drown out the voices in my head. Shit, those voices just won't shut up – all day long, penetrating, deafening voices. They tell me to do things – terrible things. I wouldn't consider anyone within a two-mile radius of me to be safe.
Big Bird: Ho-KAY. Right. Well. I can give you alcohol but you really need some outside help. Have you ever considered committing yourself to the nearest mental ward?
Barney: Very funny, feather-butt. For your information, I've been diagnosed as clinically depressed as a result of years of forced interaction with politically correct children and queers like those two over there (Nods in the direction of Mister Rogers and Steve, who are, suffice it to say, engaged in more than conversation)
Big Bird: Now, now, let's not be bitter conservatives. You know Steve and Fred are not the only two to opt for an alternate lifestyle. Look and Bert and Ernie! And me and Snuffelopagus – we've been together for almost six months now.
(Barney does a spit-take with his drink, laughs maniacally and falls off his bar stool, hitting his head on the way down and joining Elmo on the floor unconscious)
* * *
(When Barney comes to, he sees Mister Rogers and Steve bending over him with concerned expressions. Meanwhile, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Lala and Po are pouring cold water on Elmo in an attempt to wake him up. It's not working)
Dipsy: (Almost incoherently) Mo-mo dwink too much.
Tinky-Winky: (Getting distracted) Tinky-Winky go get "bag." (He takes out his red purse and pulls out a small bottle of vodka. Lala and Po stare at him)
Tinky-Winky: Tinky-Winky need dwink. (He chugs the vodka. Lala and Po turn to each other and shrug, then dance up and down gleefully)
Lala and Po: Again! Again!
Steve: They really should have drink limits here. Too many PBS kids' entertainers getting trashed. I swear this network's going down the shitter.
Mister Rogers: Now Steve, it's not nice to use words like that. It can hurt others.
Steve: Shut up and kiss me, old man.
(Bad things happen, things that are so very wrong on so many levels that I'm not going to describe them here, as I'm sure many of you either have eaten recently or plan to in the near future)
Barney: (Lifting his bulbous head from the pile of vomit in which he lies) God, what have I become? Why must I live like this? Whyyyyyyyyy?????
* * *
(Barney is sitting in a room with padded walls, wearing an oversize straightjacket. He is in the fetal position, holding his legs, rocking back and forth, dazed, and singing in a quiet deranged voice)
Barney: I fuck you, you fuck me, we're a fucking family…
(A doctor walks in holding a clipboard)
Doctor: What's your name, "sir"?
Barney: Dinosaur. Barney the Dinosaur.
Doctor: Okay, Mr. The Dinosaur. Your chart says you committed yourself. What seems to be the problemo?
Barney: Well, lately I've been a bit disillusioned about public television, and about the universe in general and my place in the spectrum of humanity, or lack thereof…hey, wait a minute, do I know you?
Doctor: That's right, I'm Mr. McFeeley, the loveable, happy-as-sunshine speedy delivery mailman from Mr. Rogers' neighborhood.
Barney: Why the hell are you posing as a freakin' psychiatrist?
McFeeley: How the hell do you expect me to make a decent living walking around in a gay postal uniform and delivering exactly one package every day to that creep Fred Rogers, who incidentally keeps trying to HIT ON ME!!!
Barney: Tell me about it. That man needs help.
McFeeley: Well, don't look at me. I've got my hands full with counseling these days. Did you know that over the past month no fewer than seventeen PBS kids TV personalities have willingly committed themselves to this institution? It can't be a coincidence. I've helped Ernie and Bert with marital counseling, I've referred Elmo to a 12-step AA program, I've even treated all four Teletubbies for separation anxiety and stress from coping with devastating brain damage and incurable speech impediments which prevent them from communicating in a coherent fashion.
Barney: I thought this stuff was confidential.
McFeeley: Well, technically it's supposed to be, according to those right-wing fascists who run this institution. God, sometimes I just sit back, smoke a joint, and fantasize about how I'm going to tear them limb from limb someday.
Barney: Whoa. Too much information. Let's ignore your own obvious mental problems and focus on mine. As I said, I've been hearing voices and I've tried to kill myself over fifty times. But is never works due to the dense protective layer of purple blubber that covers my body. That's another thing. I have a bad body image. I've tried the Atkins diet, and the Jenny Craig thing, and the Jared Subway Sandwich Diet, but all I have to show for it are gastrointestinal blockages and an eating disorder.
McFeeley: (Writing busiliy on his clipboard) Uh huh, uh huh, that's very interesting, Mr. The Dinosaur.
Barney: (Snatching the clipboard away) What the fuck? All you've done is draw images of death by bludgeoning all over this medical form.
McFeeley: Sorry. Sometimes I forget where I am. For all I know, in five minutes I'll be trying to strangle you.
(Elmo pops in from a trapdoor in the ceiling)
Elmo: (Thinking he's a vampire) Elmo wants to suck your blood! Elmo wants to feed you to the undead! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
(Images of Mister Rogers and Steve getting married float through the air above Barney's head.YMCA suddenly starts playing from out of nowhere; the Teletubbies enter and start dirty-dancing)
Barney: YAAAAARRRRRRGH!!! I can't take any more of this insanity! (Uses his tail to pull out a pistol he has somehow concealed beneath his straightjacket) This is for the demise of children's programming! (A shot rings out, Barney falls down dead)
Tinky-Winky: (Suddenly able to speak in a clear yet menacing bass voice) Yes, and let this be a lesson to anyone who tries to rebel – resistance is futile! We will continue to penetrate your children's brains each time they watch our shows, until one day, they will serve us!
(Elmo's eyes roll back in his head so only the whites show. Po starts to foam at the mouth and his head slowly rotates a full 360 degrees, all the while he is grinning maliciously. Suddenly the lights go out, and everything is silent)
(A voice rings out): BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Hope you enjoyed my story. I'm aware that the ending is crappy; you don't have to tell me.