The producers of the children's television show "Barney & Friends" are coming under attack from men's rights groups for allegedly projecting an unhealthy body image to young boys. The protesters charge that the obese, purple dinosaur creates an unrealistic ideal figure in the minds of male children, which can lead to eating disorders.
"Most boys watch "Barney" between the ages of 0 and 4 years," explains Kenny Wright, chairman of FATTY, Fathers Against Tainted Television for Youngsters. "This is a time of tremendous growth in the child's body, so overeating may go unnoticed. But the eating habits established during these formative years can resurface in adulthood, and create husky, overweight men."
Wright says the foods promoted on "Barney" are also a problem. "Sure, popcorn is really neat. Fun to make, and fun to eat. It's a pop-pop, ever-poppin, never stoppin', show-stoppin, zany kind of treat. But not when you're a 350 lb., unemployed 30-year-old on his third large tub of the buttery, artery-clogging, movie theater fodder."
"We simply must stop this grape glutton, this magenta mammoth, this violet velociraptor," said Wright in his outdoor voice. "If Barney were made of flesh and blood, rather than polyester fiberfill, he would stand six feet tall, weigh 380 lbs., have a 90-inch waist, 60-inch thighs, and wear size 28 shoes. A child is going to have to eat an awful lot of peanut butter pepperoni pickle pizza to get anywhere near that size. And those that do attain Barney's colossal proportions will suffer a host of physical problems."
Bill Jernigan, producer of "Barney & Friends" says the allegations have no merit. "Kids know Barney isn't a real person. Barney is a dinosaur from our imaginations. And when he's tall, he's what we call a dinosaur sensation. If anything, Barney shows well-fed youngsters that it's okay to be chubby. Even with his gigantean body, Barney still manages to fly an airplane, drive a bus, and dance aerobically for long periods. This shows plump boys that they can do everything thin boys can do, despite their voluminous torsos."
Though a Mattel spokesperson would not comment on the issue, inside sources at the toy company say we may see slimmed-down Barneys on the shelf in time for the holidays. They are rumored to be surplus action figures of boy band "O-Town", painted purple and repackaged.