- We want to say this is the weirdest children’s show we’ve ever seen, but that’s a pretty big claim to make.
There have been a lot of weird characters in kids’ cartoons over the years. We have a sponge living in an undersea pineapple, that yellow shapeshifting dog thing from Adventure time, basically everything from Courage the Cowardly Dog… The list goes on.
But now they’re joined by someone who’s unlike pretty much anything we’ve seen before. Enter John Dillermand and his eponymous Danish cartoon.
This show doesn’t even attempt subtlety. Case in point, its name translates to “John Dongman,” and that’s about the show’s entire premise.
John Dillermand is a claymation cartoon about a mustachioed man named John Dillermand. He goes about his everyday life with the help of his gigantic genitals.
Oh yes, the show’s second main character might as well be John’s incredibly long schlong. This prehensile, extendable meat tube is less of a sex organ and more of a fifth multipurpose limb.
Case in point, just watch the first five-minute episode of the show. It might be spoken in Danish, but you don’t need words to understand what’s going on.
Just in those five minutes, John manages to use his dong to light a grill, set it on fire, walk dogs with it, and have those dogs chew it up. In other episodes his penis engages in many heroics and mishaps, like saving a pram from oncoming traffic or propelling John through the air as a grabbling hook.
That’s one heck of a wang.
Outrage and Problems
John Dillermand airs on Danish DR TV network’s Ramasjang section, which features content aimed at kids. That’s John’s target audience, as well – it’s primary viewers are between ages 4 and 8.
But, as you can probably guess, not everyone is thrilled about the idea of a kid’s show featuring a massive penis. Some parents have been whipped up to a white-hot rage by the show.
“What in the world are you up to, DR Ramasjang!” wrote one parent on DR Ramasjang’s Facebook page. “I am deeply outraged and think it is SO perverse and inappropriate television for young children. This is the last time I let my children see Ramasjang!”
“Remove John Dillermand immediately! My blood is boiling as I write this,” wrote Nicolai Cilleborg, a prison guard, educator, and father of a 4-year-old. “There is a great risk of children seeing something they shouldn’t see on digital media. You perverted pedophile swine.”
But it’s not only parents who are troubled by John’s schlong. Some in academia are concerned that the show could promote gender inequality and empower negative ideals in kids.
“It’s perpetuating the standard idea of a patriarchal society and normalizing ‘locker room culture’ that’s been used to excuse a lot of bad behavior from men,” Christian Goers, an associate professor and gender researcher at Roskilde University, told The Guardian.
“It’s meant to be funny – so it’s seen as harmless. But it’s not. And we’re teaching this to our kids,” he added.
An Exemplary Penis
This penis-shaped coin, however, has another side as well. Although some parents seem to hate everything about John Dillermand, others think it’s educational and a laugh riot.
“John Dillermand has been approved at our house and our 8-year-olds are rolling on the floor laughing,” Morten Kordaard Johansson wrote on Facebook. “Those who see pedophilic problems in John Dillermand have a bigger problem themselves. There’s nothing sexual in the program, only a poor man hanging by his dong from some balloons.”
“Full support for John Dillermand from here! The series is entertaining for both children and adults,” summarized Christian Aakjær Olesen in another post.
Joining the parents who don’t see a problem with John Dillermand is Erla Heinesen Højsted, a clinical children’s psychologist. She thinks that people outraged about the show are making a mountain out of a mole hill.
“John Dillermand talks to children and shares their way of thinking – and kids do find genitals funny,” Højsted told The Guardian. “The show depicts a man who is impulsive and not always in control, who makes mistakes – like kids do, but crucially, Dillermand always makes it right.
Højsted quotes a scene from the show as an example of Dillermand’s accountability. A woman tells John to keep his trouser snake in his pants, and his outrageous appendage immediately retracts into whatever body cavity he houses it in.
She concedes that the show aired at a sensitive time from a gender equality perspective. In that sense, DR Ramasjang could’ve maybe included more diverse characters than just a man and his penis.
“But this is categorically not a show about sex. To pretend it is projects adult ideas on it,” Højsted insisted.
It’s not About Sex
DR – Denmark’s public broadcasting company – is on the same wavelength with Højsted. They argued that the show could’ve just as easily been about “a woman with no control over her vagina,” but that argument is missing the point.
The most important thing about the show, says DR, is that children enjoy watching John Dillermand’s misadventures.
“We are very happy with this series. We put a lot of effort into the production, where we have, among other things, had sexual and child psychologists as consultants,” DR Ramarjang’s head administrator Morten Skov Hansen said.
Entertaining and educating children was also the goal of the show’s creator, Jacob Ley. Himself a father of two young girls and a boy, Ley told New York Post that sexual content was the furthest thing from his mind when creating the show.
Instead, he wants to help remove “shame and embarrassment” children – and adults, too – feel about their bodies.
Højsted agrees with Ley’s goal. She feels that children are exposed to much more questionable content on the internet on a daily basis.
“What kind of culture are we creating for our children if it’s OK for them to see ‘perfect’ bodies on Instagram – enhanced, digitally or cosmetically – but not ‘real bodies’?” she asked.
It’s a good question. You could also ask whether a 30-feet-long prehensile penis project a realistic body image, but we’ll leave that for another time.