Why is Barney considered Evil?

It's popular these days to vilify the monotoothed purple dinosaur. But why is this? Why does he arouse such passionate rage?

It's instructive to compare and contrast the Barney phenomenon with other cultural icons, and attempt to devine what factors make him so universally loathed.

A common point of reference is the Teletubbies, a British show designed to give preverbal infants something pleasant to look at. Now, a lot of people dislike both shows for the simple reason that they're popular. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. The Teletubbies are also cited for being inane. What of it? This is a show aimed at an intellectual demographic even lower than the six o'clock news! Barney, on the other hand, delivers a complex interlocking set of unhealthy influences to millions of homes daily.


Barney was originally created by Sheryl Leach. Sheryl was unable to find any "non-violent, interactive, entertaining" [1] videos for her 2-year-old son. This is a major failing, with such fare as Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo, Sesame Street, and Electric Company available free over the air at prime childrens' programming time slots. Sheryl is now the 6th highest earning entertainer in the US [2].


Barney is not interactive, except with the Ritalin [3] drugged moppets appearing on the show. Audience interaction is minimal, and the uninspiring gestapo exhortations to sing inane songs are not a healthy influence on childrens' minds.

Each episode ends with "Barney says" [4], a little lecture each day, amplifying the effect of "Don't think for yourself, do what you're told".


Leach herself admits that Barney is modeled on a Tyrannosaurus rex, the most fearsome predator the earth has ever known. This has the twin effects of belittling the dangers of genuinely dangerous animals as well as lending a dark undertone of continuous menace to what is purportedly nice safe childrens' fare.


The show is rife with lessons and morals, but poorly chosen, and ineptly presented. A more effective way of building massive cynicism at an early age would be hard to imagine. This is one of the few properties of the show that I appreciate. Children thus indoctrinated are doomed to do poorly in public schools [5].

The subject matter is also monumentally inappropriate. One famous episode was titled: "A Stranger is a Friend you haven't met" [6]. Is this the sort of thinking that leads to children surviving childhood?

Which leads to...


The show's message of universal, blind, unthinking love on demand "I love you, you love me", delivered to uncritical minds in their formative years, cannot help but have an effect in later life. Such people, upon reaching high school (or even younger), will be subjected to enormous peer pressure to take up smoking, drinking, and drugs. Conditioned early on to uncritically take instructions from self-appointed authority figures, they will be easy marks. Sing my song, take this pill, be happy.

It gets worse...

But what heavily-promoted teenage activity is most easily confused with love? You guessed it, sex. Barney teaches children to love and trust everybody (even strangers), and to do what they're told. Someone, somewhere is gonna ask your children to have sex with them. "If you really loved me, you would" is a line as old as the hills. When word gets out that "I love you, you love me, let's start our own family" results in easy sex, it will be all over. Nothing spreads faster than word of an easy, reliable way for teenage boys to get laid. Barney may be the single most direct cause of teen pregnancy in the beginning of the next century.

Does Barney offer advice on preventing disease and conception? Naturally not. If he did, maybe the show would receive some long overdue scrutiny. Too little and too late, but better than not at all.

The Dark Lord?

I'm not claiming that Barney is Satan (though some have [7]), however there are some disturbing parallels between Barney and Darth Vader. Darth Vader is a composite character, with a voice provided by James Earl Jones, and the costume animated by David Prowse. The Barney outfit is animated by David Joyner and the cloying, miasmic voice of Barney comes from voice-over actor Bob West [8].

When Will It End?

The original dinosaurs, though dead now, were one of the most successful lifeforms ever, dominating the landscape for some 160 million years. Humans, at less than one percent of this figure, don't even come close. Let's hope that today's dangerously flawed parody dies out sooner.

[1] Creator of Barney to be honored by B'nai B'rith
[2] Highest Earning Entertainers (1994-1995)
[3] The Perfect Drug
[4] The Education Approach of "Barney & Friends"
[5] Idiocy I learned in public school
[6] A Pacifier? Sure, why not?
[7] Proof That Barney Is Actually Satan
[8] Fun TV Facts
John Rehwinkel