Monday, November 26, 2012

Dressing it up

If you've been the the Google homepage today (I'm guessing it's just on Canadian Google) you'll have seen the great Google Doodle done in homage to Ernie Combs, "Mr. Dressup". While "Mr. Dressup" wasn't my very favourite Canadian-made kids' show -- that was The Friendly Giant, for a variety of reasons -- it was nevertheless a fixture of my childhood, and I realize now just how important the character, the name and the concept were in making using your imagination an acceptable thing to do for boys (that's changed a fair bit in the years since, in part thanks to shows like this one, but it definitely lingers here and there -- there was still a lot of concern about using your imagination being feminine or juvenile among the teen boys in my drama class in Oshawa, ten-odd years ago.) Even the name "Mr. Dressup" slips in a bit of then-subversive gender bending, because playing "dress up" was, when I was young, unambiguously something girls did, but if Mr. Dressup did it (along with the androgynous Casey) then it had to be okay. Those of us who spend our time today exploring our own Tickle Trunks owe him a debt of thanks.

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