My Queer Life: Et Tu, Po?
|by Michael Thomas Ford|
Poor Tinky Winky. Not only does he have the pressure of being the eldest Teletubby, but now hes been dragged kicking and screaming out of the closet. As his handlers try to do damage control to save his career, the world watches and wonders whether childrens television will ever be the same again. But in all the excitement surrounding the "Is he or isnt he?" debate, something has been overlooked. Just who leaked the story to the press? At first we all blamed Jerry Falwell, but now he says he didnt do it. And if not good old Jerry, then who?
Im tempted to blame Clinton. After all, what else could so neatly draw attention away from Billy Boys Oval Office activities as a scandal involving one of the most beloved icons of toddlers everywhere? But I dont think even Slick Willy is that big of a scumbag. Then again, if Linda Tripp came up with a tape of Tinky Winky admitting to fellatio with our fallen president, I wouldnt blink an eye.
But no, I think the source is much closer to home. In all the furor, no one has really asked the most important question: What might the other Tubbies have to do with this?
The case against Tinky Winky is purely circumstantial. Hes lavender. He has a Gay Pride-like triangle antenna. He carries what could arguably be a purse. Okay, so that is pretty damning evidence. But while were taking a good hard look at what Tinky Winkys hidden message might be, why not look over his three cohorts as well and see what might be lurking beneath their smiling, big-eyed exteriors.
Dipsy is the next-biggest Teletubby, and second in line for control of the merry band. A kind of weird flourescent green color, he sports on his head an antenna of undeniable phallic design. Pointing straight and tall, it wobbles grotesquely about his head as he races through Teletubby Land. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to see that hes some kind of pagan phallic god, a throwback to the pre-Christian days when people wantonly worshiped the forces of nature and danced around May Poles in the expectations that it would bring bountiful crops and pregnant farm animals. Has he come to undermine centuries of church indoctrination? I wouldnt put it past him.
Then we have Laa-Laa. Lemon yellow in tone, she delights in singing a strange song reminiscent of Grace Slicks warbling in the 1960s classic "White Rabbit." Her eyes frequently half-closed, Laa-Laa traipses among the bright talking flowers of the Teletubby valley playing with her favorite toy, a ball that mysteriously grows larger and smaller at will. Laa-Laa watches her ball and giggles to herself while her antenna, a kind of bizarre pointer that loops around on itself, mesmerizes viewers. I have only one thing to say about this Teletubby: Acid Queen. She doesnt want you to say no, she wants you to tune in and drop out.
And finally theres cute little Po. The youngest Tubby is bright red. Her antenna is O-shaped. Her favorite activity is zooming around on a scooter babbling the words "faster, faster, faster" and "slower, slower, slower." If you ask me, this little Tubby is nothing less than the Scarlet Whore of Babylon herself. If that antenna of hers isnt an open invitation to lust, I dont know what is, and we all know her veiled scooter commands are repressed sexual desires, now, dont we.
With their hidden agendas clearly at stake, any of the three remaining Teletubbies could have reason for throwing Tinky Winky to the wolves. Perhaps Po, sick of being the fag hag of Teletubby Land, decided to give herself more room in the spotlight. Maybe Dipsy, with his emphasis on macho maleness, couldnt hide his homophobia any longer and wrote an anonymous note after Tinky Winky refused to service him on demand. Then again, maybe Laa-Laa took one too many magic mushrooms from the Forest of Make Believe and simply talked to the wrong people in exchange for another hit.
They all have their motives for wanting Tinky Winky out of the way. And so do many other childrens television stars. I wouldnt be at all surprised to find that a rival Sesame Street Muppet is behind it all. Perhaps, much as Tanya Harding hired thugs to take out Nancy Kerrigan during the Olympics, Big Bird or Grover slipped a few bucks to someone to knock the Tubbies down a few points in the Nielsens. Or maybe the sexually-ambivalent Blue of the increasingly popular Blues Clues feared someone would comment on her unusual living situation with Ms. Telephone and a scandal would erupt, so she decided to shine the spotlight on the competition.
Yes, I think Tinky Winky is just the tip of the iceberg, the most recent victim of the backstabbing so prevalent among the nervous stars of kid TV. Not since Pee-Wee Herman was found pleasuring himself in an adult theater have the mighty come under such intense scrutiny. And where are Tinky Winkys supporters in all of this? Not a word has been uttered by the other Teletubbies. Bert and Ernie continue their "no comment" strategy. Even Kermit has extended his vacation in Key West to avoid reporters questions. Just as Pee-Wees arrest was met with silence, so is Tinky Winky left to stand alone.
Sure, the people of West Hollywood have issued a proclamation in support of Tinky and his sexuality. Theres even talk of making him the grand marshal of this years Pride parade. And Miss Piggy said shed still be willing to do love scenes with him, no matter what his personal leanings. But what price will Tinky Winky ultimately pay for this betrayal? Will he find himself only able to get bit parts as the "funny uncle" in Scooby-Doo remakes? Or will he, like Ellen and Anne, flee Hollywood in frustration. I shudder to think.
Lets hope that a promising career wont be cut short by this case of obvious mudslinging. With any luck, like Dr. Quinns outed Chad Allen, Tinky Winky will be able to continue doing the fine work he has given us in his short career. I only hope that whoever did this shameful thing is able to live with him or herself. Po, are you listening? Because you and your big round O might just be the next to fall.
Michael Thomas Fords book Alec Baldwin Doesnt Love Me & Other Trials from My Queer Life is a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in humor. He welcomes e-mail at Shopiltee@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 2, March 12, 1999