I recently stumbled across a new children’s show on Danish public television called John Dillermand. John Dillermand loosely translates to “Penis man” in Danish. This Danish TV show is geared toward kids ages 4-8 with clay animated figures about a man with a silly mustache and red and white striped clothing (think: Where’s Waldo? style). He goes about his life using his giant penis to get him into and also out of funny situations. This slapstick comedy has him tying balloons around his penis and flying away, or walking his dog with his penis.
Each episode is five minutes long and has me wondering if it has just gone too far. He fends off a lion, threatening local children by using his penis as a whip. It even has a catchy theme song about his penis as “there is nothing he can’t do with it.” It presented some interesting thoughts in my mind as a Child Psychiatrist, sexuality expert and author of No Shame: Real Talk With Your Kids About Sex, Self-Confidence, and Healthy Relationships.
I have always respected the Northern European approach to sexuality. It is not uncommon for Danish families to get naked together in the hot tub, and approach sex education very openly. But, now a cartoon about a giant penis? It was received with mixed reviews.
I showed one of the shows to my daughter, age 10. She laughed and saw it for the innocence of a ridiculous potty humor comedy. The director said this is what was intended. Kids that age love potty humor. All talk about butts, genitalia, farting, etc endanger long belly laughs. Any pornographic thoughts about the show would come from the lens of being an adult. To me, it is a bit too close to the “Welcome Home Brother Charles” where a man gets vengeance with his very long penis. That movie was definitely not kid friendly.
I also object to the idea that children should be exposed to the idea that a man should have a long penis, as that sends the wrong message in terms of body image, and ideas of masculinity. However, that is picked up through the lens of an adult understanding and not from a child’s eyes where these themes would go completely over their head.
John Dillermand also cannot control his penis. It buys into the idea that “men will be men” and they get themselves into trouble because of a penis that cannot be controlled. This is a theme that makes me a bit uncomfortable for obvious reasons. It is the brain that controls the penis and not the other way around.
On the positive side, I love the idea that kids can joke about – and openly discuss – body parts, and genitalia, and not feel it is shameful. It is also stupid and funny, and totally ridiculous.
So culture shock? Definitely! I think PBS can delay the airing of this series.