Something Made You Special

  By Shamus   Sep 23, 2006   18 comments

Steven left a link to this story in the comments here: Veggie Tales is to be broadcast on TV, but all religious references are to be stripped out. I’d love to know how they plan to do that. Veggie Tales is a kids show with musical numbers. Some of the songs mention God in the lyrics. Those songs would have to be re-written, re-recorded, and then the show re-cut. Every show ends with Bob and Larry going over to the computer to read “today’s verse”. Bob’s ending catchphrase is, “God made you special, and He loves you very much!” If they take God out of the show, it will be quite a bit shorter and make a lot less sense.

Veggie Tales
I’m not really angry at NBC. I was shocked when I heard they were putting the show on TV, because I knew the show is explicit about talking about God. It’s a show by Christians and aimed at Christians, so it doesn’t water things down. I was sure if they put the show on the air there would be complaints. A lot of them. My kids don’t watch TV, but if they did I can imagine how I would react to a show that was advocating another religion. This is deeply personal business, and not something that should try to bypass me by proselytizing to my kids via a cartoon show. If I came in and saw Spongebob had been replaced by “Tarot Time with Little Miss Wicca” I’d be pretty irritated. So, I don’t blame NBC for wanting to avoid the backlash that would come from non-Christians and anti-Christians out there. The conservative Christian groups would react at least as strongly if another religion was getting airtime during kid’s shows. NBC is a business, and from a pure business standpoint they have a duty to avoid religious advocasy when the kids are watching, because anything else results in bad press and angry letters sent to sponsors.

What I don’t understand is why the sides agreed to this in the first place. What in the world made NBC want this show? NBC makes this sound perfectly routine, to sign up a show that is totally at odds with their broadcast standards. Big Idea claims they had no idea their show would have to be edited like this, and say they never would have signed the papers if they had known. I find it hard to believe that these contracts were signed and somehow nobody mentioned how this was going to go. Editing – particularly tricky editing like this – costs money and often requires voice actors to come in and lay down some new dialog. Who is going to do this editing? NBC? How did they get permission to edit the show like this? At best, it sounds like the Big Idea legal team didn’t do their job, and NBC was probably at least a little deceptive or misleading. At worst, Big Idea is outright lying.

All of this just confirms my fears that this was a terrible idea to begin with. Phil Vischer (one of the show’s creators, and the voice of Bob the Tomato) is still excited: “Isn’t it great that Veggie Tales is on TV?” Well, no. Who cares? Imagine how the secular / non-Christian types will react when they decide they like the show, buy one of the videos, and get the raw, uncut, explicit version that talks about You-Know-Who. I think they are going to feel like they were duped, suckered in. Christians who like the show already own the videos. So who is the show for?

Now, I’m all for wholesome entertainment that is still, you know, entertaining. I’m weary of the crass booger & fart jokes that are strung together to make kids giggle, and one can only take so much of the “Kipper” shows – television so harmless that it is devoid of content. Something witty yet wholesome is a worthwhile goal, and I’d admire them if Big Idea made another show that was aimed at television with this goal in mind. But the way this happened is just awful. It’s lies and money and will lead to a chopped-up TV show that doesn’t make any sense and won’t please anyone.

On a lighter note, Pizza Angel!

1818 comments. (18 is the only non-zero number that equals twice the sum of its decimal digits.)


  1. Pixy Misa says:

    What? What what what what what what what?

    That’s like… like showing The Maltese Falcon… only could we lose that detective guy? Not a good role-model, y’know. Like showing Ghostbusters, only without all that supernatural stuff, because we know it might offend some people.

    Bleagh.

  2. Alex says:

    William H Macy: We’re going to remove all of the cigarettes from the old movies, because I’m sure the stars would have wanted it that way.
    Interviewer: Isn’t that changing history?
    William H Macy: No, it’s making history better.

  3. BeckoningChasm says:

    Something similar happened years ago with ABC and Monty Python. ABC wanted to show the six-episode last season of MP as two 90 minute specials; the Pythons said “Great!” and signed up. Only later did they realize that ABC would need to make cuts in order to put in commercials, and they asked to see the edited versions.

    When they saw them, they sued (unsuccessfully) to keep the two shows off the air. There’s a very funny account of the whole mess out there somewhere; the New Yorker did an extensive article on it.

    The end result was that ABC took their standard “we’ve changed things” disclaimer, “Edited for Television” and added five letters: “By ABC.”

    Sometimes the creators are just unaware of what they’re doing when they sell their work.

  4. Wonderduck says:

    *shaking head*
    I’m a non-religious duck, and the editing of Veggie Tales offends even me! I’ve seen the show on video (thanks to my friend The Librarian… she’s not religious, either), and think it’s both great AND hilarious. “Silly Songs with Larry” is by far my favorite part, and even the “religious” parts are pretty cool.

    I liked it even when I was a ‘liberal’ and hated everything ‘institutional.’ Thankfully, I’ve grown up and learned stuff.

  5. hank says:

    I am not a Christian, and the term ‘anti-Christian’ confuses me. It seems like a convenient tag for anyone who disagrees with Christian philosophy, something that might be true of non-Christians as well. Any chance you could clarify this?

    I tried to put it into perspective… I am a vegetarian. Most people I know are non-vegetarian. But do I know any anti-vegetarians? Not that I am aware of. Maybe it’s because I keep my personal beliefs to myself – perhaps if I was a proselytizing vegetarian I would run into anti-vegetarians. But then the question would be whether they were ‘anti-‘ before they ran into my ‘pro-‘, or were they just ‘non-‘s who got riled up by my proselytizing?

    It’s not an experiment I’m interested in making… I don’t care what other people eat, I just don’t eat meat, I don’t even have a particular philosophy about it. But thinking along these lines does make me pretty suspicious every time I see someone who says “I am an X” talk about the “anti-X” people out there.

  6. Acksiom says:

    Are you also suspicious every time you see a jew talk about anti-semitism, too, Hank?

  7. Shamus says:

    Hank: Acksiom beat me to it. That’s pretty much where I was going with this. It’s not that big a deal. I don’t have anything against anti-Christians, I’m just saying that some people are going to be really, really, REALLY unhappy that Christian ideals and teachings are getting airtime. (Much more unhappy than if NBC gave some other religion airtime.) These people would want to share their feelings with NBC, and with the sponsors, and that’s something NBC would have to deal with.

  8. Shamus says:

    Furher thoughts:

    whether they were ‘anti-’ before they ran into my ‘pro-’, or were they just ‘non-’s who got riled up by my proselytizing?

    This is certainly possible, but I doubt proselytizing is what gets people riled up. I think the main source of anti-Christians is Christian politics. Stuff like school prayer, anti-sodomy laws, anti-porn laws, mandatory Creationisim theory in schools, etc. I think in many cases we have folks who would just ignore Christians but who come to see them as an active enemy because of their political lobbying.

  9. hank says:

    Acksiom: it depends on the situation, but yes, there are times when ‘anti-Semite’ makes me suspicious. The holocaust was one of the largest anti-anyone events I know of, and in that context I think the term ‘anti-Semite’ is pretty accurate. I’ve also heard other contexts in which I thought the term was used inappropriately – as in the “this is because I am (jewish|white|black|gay|whatever) and you are anti-_” defense when the person has clearly committed a crime.

    Shamus’ last comment nailed it, I think… for me as a non-Christian, most of the time if I’m hearing about Christians I am really hearing about Christian politics. It’s a ‘doctrine versus dogma’ thing, and politics usually lives on the ‘dogma’ side of that dichotomy, which means that people with other beliefs might only ever hear the word ‘Christian’ when it is in a political context. This is true whether we’re talking about Christianity or any other personal belief system… if the Buddhists start political lobbying that threatens to impose their way of life on me they’re going to upset me.

    Shamus: I think it could be argued that religious lobbying is just politicized proselytizing that aims for the legal imposition of the belief system rather than the willful adoption of it. This is, I would hope, contrary to the spirit of Christianity or any other religion.

    Thanks for your reasoned responses.

  10. Bard says:

    Actually, having seen a few episodes of Veggie Tales, it’s actually a really good idea. Their integration of religion into the story makes C.S. Lewis’s look classy.

  11. Roxysteve says:

    As God is my witness I am an atheist and have been since I was 15, two thirds of a lifetime ago, and I declare that Veggie Tales is absolutely great.

    It is worth putting up with a few references to the (to me) non-existant God in order to see “Silly Songs with Larry”.

    For the record, There is no finer song anywhere than “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything,/i>”. On this I am firm.

    Unless you are talking “The Argentinian Cucumber Song” of course. Whole different ball game.

    Or “Oh Where Is My Hairbrush?”. Different genre of course.

    Steve.

  12. Roxysteve says:

    Bah. Markup Screwup. -10 000 ponts for style. Sorry.

  13. Roxysteve says:

    And now I can’t spell. Takes gun, shoots self.

  14. Teague says:

    We watch the Silly Song collection DVDs with our 2 daughters (3 and 20 mos), so when I recently saw the show on TV I taped it for us. It was still entertaining, but with lower quality animation than the DVDs we have, and I didn’t notice any God references.

  15. Deacon Blues says:

    Well, the Silly Songs tend not to be so much religious as – well – silly. (And by the way, “I Love My Lips” is, I believe, the best one so far, although I also liked that one by Boyz-N-tha-Sink…)

    I do think Larry would have gotten better service, though, if he’d gone with his usual place, Pizza Lion. He probably still has that discount coupon from the shopping cart in “Madame Blueberry”! :)

  16. Wayseeker says:

    I just wonder if I’m the only person who’s noticing that the Cucumber is singing about eating a dish that explicitly mentions -Tomato Sauce-, given that one of his buddies IS a Tomato….

  17. Rodrigo says:

    this is an old posting. so i wonder if the idea ever went through now.
    heh. all i know is im not christian and i loved veggie tales.
    ^^
    ah, good times.

  18. Dreadjaws says:

    I know this is an old post, but I can’t see its content in any browser I open it. All I can see are the comments, and it doesn’t happen with any other posts in this site. Also, the buttons and such are messed up.

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