International Student Blog

Study Break: TV to Terrify the Young

As a student hoping to study abroad, you might have looked for ways to “get the language in your ears” of the country in which you were planning to study. I did, anyway. When I found out I got accepted to UiB, I got some Norwegian language (Norsk) Apps and learned fantastically useless but fun to pronounce words like “Sommerfugl!” (that’s butterfly in case you didn’t get that App). Speaking of Apps, I also got the NRK App in order to try to watch some Norwegian language media content on NRK, Norway’s national broadcasting company.





Now, with a vocabulary as rich as “butterflies”, I had to try to start small when consuming Norwegian media. That was OK by me, I just wanted to get an idea of the sound and cadence of Norsk. Naturally therefore, I went to the Barn (children’s) section of the NRK TV categories. I thought TV made for small humans just beginning to speak Norsk might make it easier to pick up. While this was not at all the case in my case, I did stumble upon a gem of an old-school Norwegian children’s programme. It was created in 1969 and apparently is called “Reparatørene” (“The repairmen”), featuring two repairmen, Pompel and Pilt.





I find this programme delightfully creepy: Black and white, complete with puppets, creaking doors, and an opening sequence which appears to take place what I like to think of as a “hair forest”- probably actually cotton fibers, apparently the NRK deemed the show inappropriate for children for nearly a decade. For more information on this fantastically quirky TV experience, check out this wikipedia entry on Pompel og Pilt (og is ‘and’ – learned it on my App!).



Apparently, I’m not the only one who found this programme memorable. I saw it immortalized in this piece of artwork as I walked through Bergen recently. (Yes, traumatisere does mean traumatizing, at least according to google translate).




Artist Unknown, Photo: Stand Hiestand



Please do not think I am criticizing this show, I just take joy in the delightful strange and potentially-inappropriate-for-children, this to me is a commonality between cultures, not a difference. Perhaps it will help you to understand if I tell you my Dad used to recite me poetry instead of bedtime stories. Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”, for example. Delightfully creepy and inappropriate for small children.






In the interest of highlighting our cultural commonalities, I feel I should provide an American example of the ‘creepily inappropriate for kids’ genre. So, if anybody is planning a trip or a study abroad experience in the U.S. and feels the need to brush up on their English counting while being slightly perturbed, please enjoy this offering of vintage Sesame Street (although if you’re reading this blog, you don’t need English practice). I promise you this counting experience is super sinister… almost threatening. Learn to count to ten, or else the creepy disembodied rubber band face will come for you!



I can’t say I ever saw this particular Sesame Street segment as a child, I had to look up “unintentionally creepy children’s tv” online when my memory of the stop-motion animation movie “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” didn’t come across as spookily as I remembered. Want to see it anyway?



I think, if we can take away one lesson from this, its that many cultures enjoy freaking out kids. I mean, just look at our fairy tales! But that is a post for another day.

Is there a creepy children’s show you’re dying to share? Comment below! We could all use a study break.


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