Saturday, February 2, 2008

Punky Boobster

Punky Brewster was a mid/late 80s NBC sitcom. I don't remember watching it regularly, at least not on purpose. But it was difficult not to be aware of it. "Punky power" swept the nation.

Actually, no, not really. There really wasn't much to distinguish Punky Brewster from other little-remembered sitcoms of the era. But there were tie-in products. Lots and lots of products. And a cartoon. The show was popular with a difficult-to-reach but lucrative demographic: pre-teen girls.

Punky Brewster starred 8-year old Soleil Moon Frye as the titular (hey! play on words!) character. The show revolved around precocious and friendly Punky, abandoned by her parents, and Henry, an older gentleman who befriends (and later adopts) her. And of course Brandon the dog, Punky's best friend.

The show was not known for hard-hitting examination of the day's issues, It did occasionally address topics of interest to the target preteen demographic.

In one episode Punky experiences one rite of passage common to much of the show's audience: the first bra. In one of the few memorable scenes from the series, Punky looks down her shirt and declares (much to Henry's embarassment) "I'm getting boobs!"

Soleil Moon Frye did indeed. REALLY really got them. So much so that health issues resulted. So, at age 15 (years after she had become the answer to a trivia question) Frye had breast reduction surgery.

I was looking into this story because of the nickname "Punky Boobster". A band (out of Florida, I believe) used the nickname as a group name. I came across a demo from that band while digging through my music collection the other day. Although I knew the basic outline of the story behind the name, I wanted to do a little research to, uh, fill out what I knew.

What resulted was a major Wilco Tango Foxtrot moment. A number of people expressed disdain at Frye's surgery. Wha?

This was around the same time I was reading about the Packer Bikini Girls. A number of frankly mean-spirited commentators found it necessary to ... I can't come up with the words ... express disappointment at the PBGs for failing to 'measure up' to certain fantasy standards.

Again, wha?

I could respond with some overblown rambling about different folks finding different things attractive. What counts being what's on the inside. You know, all that claptrap.

I could, but I won't. I'm taking the low road. So, to everyone distressed by a young actress' efforts to live happier and healthier, or distressed by real-life bikini wearers:

I'd like to make you an invitation: turn off your computer and your widescreen TV. Throw on some sunglasses and take those first few steps out of your parents' basement.

See those folks that look vaguely like your emaciated solicone-injected airbrushed fantasy supermodels? Those are what us inhabitants of the "real world" call "real women". You should get to know one. They're plenty neato keen.

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