by: Bobby Crowley
In recent news, the woman who played Laa-Laa has come out of the woodwork to share her very important view on a very important issue. If you are not familiar with Laa-Laa, it is the yellow furry alien-like creature from Teletubbies. The woman who played this yellow creature apparently decided enough was enough, declaring that the long-living rumor of Tinky Winky’s homosexual nature is a myth and that, “It’s embarrassing for the people who said it.” She went on to ask “What kind of person can take the obvious innocence and turn it into something else? We were hardly sexual beings.” Her comments were supposed to be a response to the evangelical fundamentalists who, in the 90s, when the show aired, rejected it for endorsing the gay lifestyle to children everywhere. They specifically pointed out Tinky Winky’s purple color, triangle shaped antenna, and the purse he often carried around, stating that they were all symbols for homosexuality.
Though I feel the urge to respond to Laa-Laa’s irritation, a greater urge needs to be met. My response to the evangelical fundamentalists who were angered by the show weighs much more heavily on my heart. Yes, Tinky Winky had a purse, which he called a bag. Yes, Tinky Winky was purple, which a lot of people attached to gay movements and symbolism. Yes, his antenna was shaped like an upside down triangle, the symbol used for gay rights protests in the past and on propaganda now. However, let us not forget that Dipsy was a green, male teletubby with a long straight “dipstick” shaped antenna. I’m not trying to say this was suggestive of a penis, but it was suggestive of a penis. I’m not declaring he was gay, I’m just suggesting maybe the sexuality of these creatures is not the focus of this show. If it had been, they might have changed some things around.
That being said, the promotion of the gay lifestyle? Really? While adults might enjoy to titter about this or that sexual innuendo or identity that might appear in a child’s program, children don’t really notice these things. No child sees an alien creature, supposedly a boy, carrying around a purse, which he calls a bag, and shouts “GAY!” No child looks into the shapes of the antennae on these creatures, especially when there is a baby in the sun, which probably scared most children from watching the show anyways. No child looks at four different colored creatures and singles out the one that happens to be purple for being a homosexual. That would be rude. Tinky Winky was born purple, he can’t change who he is. Just like Po can’t change that she was born the short, red alien of the group with a circle on her head.
The need to eradicate any and all hints of questionable sexuality or gender is getting a little ridiculous when we start attacking a children’s show for all the wrong reasons. I mean, come on! First of all, there was an episode about holding hands where they made sure the boys and girls never held hands with a same-sex partner, so obviously they were avoiding homosexuality as much as possible. Second of all, the Teletubbies were creepy as hell! Why are we not complaining about that? Why is a lifetime of nightmares less of an issue than a little sexual fluidity? These ALIENS with televisions on their bellies which often depicted children, who may or may not be trapped in their bellies were so creepy.
Or maybe we could have found outrage in the use of herds of bunnies for this show. I’m not gonna say it was animal endangerment, but it was animal endangerment. These bunnies had to walk around with nowhere to hide from these creepy ass aliens they couldn’t have known were fake. Their lives must have been riddled with panic.
Or maybe we can talk about how there was an episode about these Teletubbies’ dirty knees. Literally. There is an episode entirely devoted to these creatures having dirty knees. They pointed them out, counted them, and then said how dirty they all were. I believe at the end the narrator said, and I quote, “One dirty Po, one dirty Po, one dirty Po.” Change that P to an H and I’m listening to a vulgar rap song. I’m not trying to suggest that this dirty knees episode implied anything, but it implied these creatures were doing a lot of kneeling for some reason cause the only part of them that was dirty was their knees, except for Po who was “dirty all over.” You take that where it needs to go.
OR maybe we can focus on the fact that all of these aliens were naked. They were naked. Not a single shred of clothing on any of them. The only thing covering anything up was Tinky Winky’s purse. So, perhaps, instead of condemning him for his purse, we should have requested that the others follow suit.
I would like to declare that none of what I have said discounts the idea that there were any gay Teletubbies. In fact, I think Laa-Laa might have a nice case of denial when it comes to this issue — because she looks at these remarks as defamatory. I, personally, think it would have been brilliant to imply sexual fluidity in these nondescript creatures.
As I mentioned before, children don’t really take note of or understand sexuality unless it is pointed out by an adult. It might have been a step forward had we just let the children soak in that wearing a purse or a certain color shouldn’t be restricted based on gender. In fact, Tinky Winky wore a pink tutu in one episode, but so did everyone else. The only negative thing it lead to was dancing, which was only a negative thing for the audience because of how creepy they looked when they danced.
I believe both reactions were a bit drastic and unnecessary. While one seemed to create an issue that wasn’t really affecting anyone harmfully, the other implied that the opposite of homosexuality is innocence. Neither did anything to move our society forward in any capacity but both have come together to remind me just how creepy the Teletubbies were. That’s really the point of this article. The Teletubbies were fucking creepy. Remember that.
Bobby Crowley is a Queer woman with a love for all that is fabulous. She is currently working on her Creative Writing degree at Loyola University where she is also on the board of Advocate and a writer for the alt. magazine LUChameleon. She is in love with Andrea Gibson, her labradaniel puppies, and singing loudly in the shower.