Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Those of my Esteemed Readers with children of a certain age may be familiar with this guy:

Lowly Worm!
Lowly Worm, the infamous “Scourge of Busytown.”

Lowly Worm! Brainchild of the late Richard Scarry, Lowly is surely one of the strangest and most perverse characters to ever appear in a children’s book. Don’t let that jaunty Tyrolean hat fool you. Lowly Worm is one sick son of a bitch.

First, let’s examine the Naming Convention. Just as Jews and Icelanders name their children using the patronymic system (Simcha ben Eliyahu, Björk Guðmundsdóttir), earthworms apparently name their children by using their economic or social status as a given name and their species as a surname. In a society of humans, this could have amusing results: Struggling Lower Middle Class Publicemployee, Wealthy Businessman, Poor Schmuck. But with worms, you get Lowly Worm. Is “lowly” his status in Worm Society, or is it a general commentary on the position of worms within the overall animal community? Is there a fellow worm who calls himself “Exalted Planarian”?

And then there are Lowly’s sexual practices, practices so vile as to even give Velociman pause. Like other earthworms, Lowly is a hermaphrodite. What does he call his female alter ego - Lovely Worm? And when Huckle Cat tells him to go fuck himself, does he just smile and get right down to business? (As a worm, he’s the “bait” in “masturbate.”)

Why any of this should be surprising to anyone is beyond me. After all, you have here a creature who resembles nothing so much as (not to belabor an unfortunate stereotype) a Chinaman’s dick an under-endowed Asian gentleman’s privates. With a hat, yet. Yeef.

Lowly has also been blamed for creating unrealistic body-image expectations amongst prepubescent girls. To these girls, Lowly’s slender torso - come to think of it, Lowly is pretty much all torso - represents the ideal body form, and they are inevitably disappointed when their lumpy, misshapen figures fail to conform to this ideal. How many tender young egos have been irreparably crushed as a result?

Given these grave concerns, I’d have to say that as a cute cartoon character, Lowly Worm leaves much to be desired. He’s worse that unpleasant...he’s Downright Scarry.

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