Sometimes your children are the bringers of new things into your life, and this is the case with Sportacus. He is the action hero of Lazy Town, a show on Nick Jr. which debuted in August of 2004, and now has about 7 million viewers. The show’s creator and lead actor, MagnÃºs Scheving, is a whirlwind of talent and energy, and a sly communicator of important nutritional information to children. His signature arm-swishing take-off move, which my daughter has learned from a step-by-step video on Nick Jr, makes me laugh every time I see it.
From an article in Fast Company:
Shot in Gardabaer, Iceland, using advanced HDTV cinematography, each $600,000 LazyTown episode is a hypervivid assault on the senses. “The pacing is incredibly fast, and we were mesmerized by it,” says Michael Carrington, who bought LazyTown for the BBC. “It’s as innovative and genre changing as Teletubbies. And like Teletubbies, you either hate LazyTown or you love it.”
There’s a lot to love. While the incidence of childhood obesity in the United States has nearly quadrupled in the past three decades, the trend in Iceland has been halted–due in no small part, the Icelandic surgeon general has determined, to LazyTown. During a LazyTown book promotion in Norway, consumption of fruits and vegetables increased 12.5% and soft drinks fell 16%.
“People ask me how we make exercise cool, but it’s like trying to explain the secret of making people laugh,” says MagnÃºs Scheving, the show’s creator (and the buff guy in the unitard). His campaign for kids’ health began in 1991 with a book, Go! Go! LazyTown!, followed by live theatrical performances and a 24-hour radio station. Now he sells everything from LazyTown-branded bottled water, cookbooks, shoes, and kids’ airline meals to Fisher-Price toys, T-shirts, cod-liver oil, and toothpaste. (Scheving’s LazyTown Entertainment won’t reveal financial data, but he says its value has doubled in each of the past five years.)
It’s a financial performance nearly as frenetic as Scheving’s show. Just watching one episode, wherein Sportacus overcomes Rotten’s soccer robot, is enough to leave one (and one’s 3-year-old) exhausted. The big question (yet unanswered): Is it also enough to get the kid to eat carrots?
Let’s hope so. I have noticed that my daughter has begun asking me regularly before we eat something: is this good for you? These are the questions we hope Sportacus is encouraging her to ask, as he rescues the children of our world from obesity and other food-related health problems.