вторник, 27 мая 2008 г.

for fun

Can tomatoes and cucumbers be good for the soul?

Watch "VeggieTales" long enough, and you might start to believe it.

Since 1993, the good-naturedly goofy animated vegetables of "VeggieTales" have been teaching biblical values to kids while also leading them on fun adventures.

This spiritual salad had sold more than 25 million videos as of summer 2002, and they hit the big screen today with "Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie," their first full-length film.

All this from an idea that Illinois resident Phil Vischer came up with while sitting at a computer in his spare bedroom.

"We started out to answer the question, `What would happen if Monty Python took over Sunday school?" said Vischer, one of the creators of "VeggieTales" and the voice of Bob the Tomato as well as several other characters.

Vischer came up with "VeggieTales" when he was trying to find a way to combine Christian values with fun stories.

So why vegetables? The reason is simpler than you think.

"Computer animation back then couldn't handle legs, arms, hair or clothes, so we had to come up with characters who were naked, bald and limbless," Vischer said. "Since we were going to be targeting Christian bookstores, I originally made a candy bar with big goofy eyes. But my wife said moms weren't going to like it if their kids suddenly fell in love with a bunch of candy bars."

So he changed the shape of the candy-bar character, colored it green and voila! Larry the Cucumber. Bob the Tomato came along shortly thereafter, because Larry just screamed out for a sidekick.

And then came a whole vegetable garden of other characters, ranging from Archibald the Asparagus to JeanClaude and Phillipe Pea, two peas with flamboyant French accents.

Vischer and his co-creator, Mike Nawrocki (the voice of Larry the Cucumber) have since produced 15 videos featuring the Veggie characters, all following a simple formula-wild and wacky, entertaining stories that teach values from the Bible.

Naturally, the idea of vegetables re-enacting Old Testament stories like "Daniel in the Lion's Den" didn't sit well with everyone.

"We got a letter from one elderly gentleman yelling, `How dare you portray Daniel as a cucumber!'" Vischer said. "Some people do not opt into what we're doing. Some folks want to have their biblical stories with bathrobes and sandals. And that's OK."

But the "VeggieTales" blend of humor, music and values has caught on with millions of kids, and adults have caught Veggie-mania, too.

Vischer said he's received e-mails from church singles groups that hold "VeggieTales" viewing parties for adults only, and also heard about weekly Veggie parties in dorms at Michigan State University and Texas A&M. Larry the Cucumber has also been turning up on dancers' T-shirts at Chicago-area nightclubs.

What's the key to the Veggie phenomenon?

"Parents are desperate to find tools to pass on values to kids, and we've managed to pull it off in a way that both kids and parents enjoy," Vischer said.

When coming up with new episodes, the "VeggieTales" creators operate by two basic rules:

One: Jesus will never be portrayed as a vegetable.

Two: The characters don't pray directly to God unless they're portraying someone else, like a biblical character.

"These are vegetables talking about the fact that God loves kids," Vischer said. "We never want to make theological implications that an asparagus can actually have a relationship with God."

Larry, Bob and the gang are also a fun way for Christians to remember core beliefs.

"Christianity has become so segmented, and each little subgroup has its own jargon," Vischer said. "Everybody is standing around throwing rocks at each other, and we've forgotten how much common ground everybody has. The core message of `VeggieTales' is there is a God, he made us special and he loves us. ... If you're trying to raise your kids with biblical values-thankfulness, kindness, forgiveness-and if you're OK with the basic Christian tenets of belief in God and prayer, then `VeggieTales' is for you."

Комментариев нет: