No love lost in Barney camp as lawyers sing “I sue you.” – lawsuit over lyrics to song on PBS program ‘Barney and Friends’ contrasts with public’s love for the show – The Last Word

No love lost in Barney camp as lawyers sing “I sue you.” – lawsuit over lyrics to song on PBS program ‘Barney and Friends’ contrasts with public’s love for the show – The Last Word – Column

Tod Lindberg

One of the great truths of our society, a constant that holds up with the unshakeable certitude of e=[mc.sup.2] in physics, is that where there are millions of dollars, there will be lawyers as well. For example, Barney.

Yes, Barney the dinosaur — the man-sized purple star of PBSS Barney and Friends, a program notable not only for the joy it brings to the hearts of small children everywhere, but also for its ability to turn the brains of grown-ups into twitching globules of protoplasmic jelly.

“I have Barney Head,” my wife said to me in the car the other day. I knew exactly what she meant. In the kitchen of our house, written on a Post-It note attached (not accidentally, I think) to the rack in which we keep our 12-inch chef’s and slicing knives, is the weekday Barney television schedule: 8:00, 9:00, 9:30, 11:00, 4:00, 4:30. In short, if you are blessed, as we are, with cable service that includes several PBS stations, you can tune in three hours of regularly scheduled Barney without even warming up your collection of Barney tapes for the VCR.

All of this can be very important if you have a 17-month-old child determined, as President Clinton was apropos of the economy, to focus like a laser beam on Barney

“Barney,” says my daughter “Barney Barney. Barney Barney Barney. Barney. Barney. Barney.”

It is the quiet tone of implacable insistence that wears down any win to resist.

Anyway, I have assurances that “Barney Head,” the sometime malady afflicting my wife and myself along with countless thousands of other Americans, will be included in DSM-IV, the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which will be released in June. Some mental health professionals think that the visions of the galumphing purple dinosaur associated with “Barney Head” mean that the condition should be classified with schizophrenia disorders. I, though a layman, tend to see it more as a special case of post-traumatic-stress syndrome.

For me, it most often takes the form of the inability to get the tune “Sally the Camel” out of my mind:

Sally, the camel, has — five humps!

Sally the came& has — five humps!

Sally, the camel, has — five humps!

So ride, Sally, ride!

Sally, the camel, has — four humps!

Sally, the camel, has — four humps!

Sally, the camel, has — four humps!

So ride, Sally ride!

In the interest of space, I will dispense with the rest of the countdown and skip to the punchline:

Sally, the camel, has — no humps!

Sally, the camel, has — no humps!

Sally, the camel, has — no humps!

‘Cause Sally is a horse! (Of course!)

On the program, Barney and friends finish singing the tune and move on to other activities, perhaps a rendition of “The Poor Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens” or “John Jacob Jingleheimerschmidt.” But for adults suffering from Barney Head, “Sally the Camel” becomes a loop, in which all six verses course through the brain and, at the end, the whole thing repeats. In another variation, you can be driving along when, unbidden, the Muse will visit you and sing in your skull, Sally, the Camel, has — one hump!

It is often at this point that one begins to twitch.

I also should report that Sally the Camel, and indeed, Barney and Friends, in general, have absolutely no deleterious effects on children. They love it, and if it looms large in their entertainment lives, to me this seems, if anything, far less malign than adult enthusiasms for, say. Star

Trek: The Next Generation.

In short, while it is true that I was wearing a purple polo shirt Saturday and that my daughter did point to me and say, “Barney,” I am quite confident that she was making a joke. I am not so sure about the people who order the autographed limited-edition Capt. Jean-Luc Picard commemorative wall plaque from the Home Shopping Channel.

But there can be no doubt that these enthusiasms add up. A recent, nonexhaustive inventory of Barney-related paraphernalia at our house turned up the following: one stuffed Barney; one stuffed Barney, talking (“You’re super-dee-duper!”); one pair Barney slippers; one pair sneakers with Barney image on side; one pair Barney pajamas; one plastic Barney toy and one plastic Baby Bop toy; one Barney bib; one Barney beach towel; one Barney balloon; and Barney books, assorted.

Multiply the sales price of the preceding by one jillion children and you get — one heck of a pile of Barney bucks.

And that is where the lawyers come in. It seems that Barney’s daily show-stopping finale, “I Love You, You Love Me” (We’re a happy fam-ily / With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you / Won’t you say you love me, too? — sung to the tune of “This Old Man”), is now a target of litigation.

Now, when I first heard about this, I was confused, because I thought it was the “Knick-knack, Paddywack” guy who was suing. In fact, it’s the lyricist, one Lee Bernstein of Indiana. She has filed suit in federal court, alleging, more or less, malicious infringement of treacle.

It seems that her lyrics appeared in a 1983 book called Piggyback Songs, from which the Barney people bought the rights. But did the Piggyback Songs people actually own all the subsidiary rights when the Barney people bought them? Needless to say, big money is riding on the outcome.

I won’t attempt here to render judgment on the merits of the case. But the thought of all the lawyers who are going to end up with “I Love You, You Love Me” stuck in their brains does, I must admit, give me pleasure.

COPYRIGHT 1994 News World Communications, Inc.

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