Veggie Tales is hosted by, ironically, two fruits, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.

Some people like to accuse it of being "a repellent, insidious attempt to disguise dogmatic fundamentalist indoctrination as cute, funny and friendly to children" and forcing Christian values onto the "unsuspecting public".
Apparently they're against honesty, being nice to people even if they're different, and forgiving people when they make a mistake and are sorry, and all for greed, selfishness, and succumbing to peer pressure.

Freedom of speech applies to Christians too.

Anyway...
It's a really funny cartoon that's rather less violent than many I could mention, though still containing some slapstick. They sometimes just tell a Bible story made funny, but often they come up with a story of their own. Each episode has a theme such as thankfulness, selfishness, helping others, etc. Every episode has Silly Songs with Larry: the part of the show where Larry sings a silly song. I just can't get enough Veggie Tales.

For more information go to http://www.ultimateveggie.com/ or http://www.bigidea.com/

Interesting in that, despite the fact that they were beta testers for Lightwave (I think), a very powerful modelling package, the majority of their scenes occur in the equivalent of cardboard cutout sets. In one memorable scene, their most complex item was a christmas tree.

Many running gags throughout their 10-15 at last count movies, such as Bob's hatred of QWERTY's song. Also, many interesting characters, most notably the French Peas and the Peach. Some mysteries, such as Aunt Ruth's Beard.

Although the promos and the supermarket displays really turn me off, if you are looking for something religious to watch other than Jesus specials and those sunday school cartoons, these are well worth a look. Also a good watch for anyone studying 3d modelling, as Big Idea Productions does a really nice job with their models (or their lack thereof. I think they have a zen approach to modelling)

VeggieTales is a collection of Christian videos that teaches morals and values. Each video teaches a new life lesson in a non-preachy way, using comedy and cute vegetables to bring joy to the screen. The videos are hosted by Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber, with characters including carrots, peas, onions, and other loveable vegetables.

VeggieTales is created, written, and produced by Big Idea Productions.

There is a collection of 13 videos which are about 30 minutes long, which includes so far 2 sing along videos:
  1. Esther ... The Girl Who Became Queen - Courage
  2. King George and the Ducky - Selfishness
  3. Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed - Power of Words
  4. Madame Blueberry - Thankfulness
  5. Josh and the Big Wall! - Obedience
  6. Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer Space - Telling the Truth
  7. The Toy that saved Christmas - The meaning of Christmas
  8. Dave and the Giant Pickle - Self-esteem
  9. Rack, Shack and Benny - Handling Peer Pressure
  10. Are you my Neighbor? - Loving your neighbor
  11. God wants me to Forgive Them?!? - Forgiveness
  12. Where's God when I'm Scared - Handling Fear
  13. Very Silly Songs
  14. The End of Silliness?


There are many Web sites to visit for more information about VeggieTales some of which are: www.veggietales.com www.bigidea.com Another web site which is filled with fun interactive games and activities for kids or kids at heart: www.larry-boy.com

There are also many items that can be purchased other than videos and these include clothes, ornaments, plush toys, tapes, cds, as well as posters and many other room decoration items.

So now that you know a little about VeggieTales have fun and enjoy!

What's the Big Idea?

It seemed lately that to get any quality entertainment within a household for their children, parents had one of three choices - 1)Buy from Uncle Walt's mouse palace, 2)Buy from a "mafia named" bunny and his violent friends, or 3)Create something yourself. What most parents wish they could do, make choice number three, is exactly what Paul Vischer of Lombard, IL did.

In July of 1993, Paul took a spare bedroom and converted it into a makeshift production studio. There he began Big Idea, a production effort that produces the highly successful VeggieTales series. Following a media formula that would most assuredly fail, (one computer + two art students + "like minded" volunteers) minus any capital or any connections, Paul set out to create "values based" entertainment. Before Christmas of 1993, Where's God when I'm S-Scared was released. It was America's first entirely computer animated video.

Through 1995, 150K videos were sold. By the end of 1996, word of mouth kicked in for Big Idea and the number of videos sold swelled to 750K. This continued, growing ever stronger, and Big Idea shipped out its millionth video in March of 1997. By November of the same year the number was over 2 million, and 3 million by March of 1998. Following the success of sales in Christian book stores, the first two videos were released to mass market stores (i.e. K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.) on March 31, 1998. By 2001 the number ballooned to 30 million and growing strong.

It was from the success of sales by Christian book stores that VeggieTales became labeled as "Christian videos". But this is a mistake. The videos and their messages point to a non-Christian approach, making them "Jewish friendly" as well.

None of the main title videos ever mention Jesus. The closest reference to Jesus Christ is the Christmas special video, and even in this video the story is about a toy saving Christmas.

Qwerty, the computer who delivers biblical quotes at the end of the video, has only used New Testament quotes thrice, and only one of these came from a Gospel - Mark. All other quotes are from the Old Testament. Upon viewing the VeggieTales series of videos, one will see that all of the biblical stories used within are from the Old Testament. Some such stories are that of Queen Esther, Joshua and the Walls of Jericho, also Daniel and the Lions Den. Even the musical scores keep themselves very Judaic in nature. There is not even Christian symbolism, such as a crucifix or cross, on any of the VeggieTale material.

This may be seen as just conjecture on this writer's part, but to fully understand this one must view the VeggieTales homepage and look for what is not being said instead of what is. There is NO mention of Jesus. Within the mission statement, Big Idea expresses "The best way to improve people's lives is to promote biblical values and encourage spiritual growth". Compare this to CBN (Christian Broadcadting Network) explanation, on their website, about "the biblical values that were the foundation of this nation have been slowly eroding" is from a lack of acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior.

The statement by Paul himself, "We pursue great art because we are convinced that great art - combined with great storytelling - can change the world" , is another point of omitting the one thing neccessary to hold the "Christian" label - Jesus Christ. The United Methodist Church says "The unprecedented impact the media (principally television and movies) are having on Christian and human values within our society becomes more apparent each day. We express disdain at current media preoccupation with dehumanizing portrayals, sensationalized through mass media 'entertainment' and 'news.' These practices degrade humankind and violate the teachings of Christ and the Bible."

VeggieTales is a unique and humurous storytelling method used to reassure small children the positive effects of God's love. VeggieTales is non-offensive and an enjoyable alternative to the mainstream children's programming. VeggieTales is at times funny and worth watching. (Note - when was the last time you saw dancing and singing vegetables without the use of illicit or illegal substances?) VeggieTales is theistic. Veggietales is not Christian.

Sources

www.BigIdea.com - www.CBN.com - http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/anti-hate/media.html

VeggieTales was conceived in July of 1993, based on a “big idea” by Phil Vischers (whose company is now called “Big Ideas Production”). The idea was to use animated cartoon vegetables to tell Bible stories to children in a humorous, contemporary way. Working on a limited budget, along with his co-founder, Mike Nawrocki, and Lisa Vischer, Phil’s wife, and with two volunteers with graphics experience, Mr. Vischers created in a few months the first VeggieTales video, called Where's God When I am Scared?

Phil is the voice of Bob the Tomato. Mike Nawrocki is the voice of Larry the Cucumber (and Larry's Superhero persona, "Larryboy"), and Lisa Vischer provides the voice of Junior Asparagus.

VeggieTales videos always have some underlying religious or moral lesson. They can be New Testament themes, Old Testament stories or morality tales about sins like greed, dishonesty, and so forth. The cartoons are faithful to the Biblical sources, but all stories are presented in a fanciful or contemporized fashion. The cartoon characters, extremely simple computer-generated figures and landscapes, engage in lots of silly behavior and fairly amusing repartee. Thankfully, this isn’t the Smurfs in bedouin robes. How Big Ideas makes use of the Biblical themes is probably best illustrated by an example:

Episode 4: Rack, Shack, and Benny

This video is based on the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from the Book of Daniel, 3:1-29. Rack, Shack and Benny work in a candy factory which makes chocolate bunnies. One day the president of the company, Nebby K. Nezzer (King Nebuchadnezzer), to commemorate the millionth chocolate bunny sold, decides to let his workers eat as many bunnies as they want. Rack, Shack and Benny remember what their mommie told them about stuffing themselves with candy, and content themselves with just a little chocolate. When Mr. Nezzar orders everyone back to work, everyone else is sick, and only Rack, Shack and Benny get back to work. Mr. Nezzar promotes them to junior executives (cartoon vegetables look pretty silly wearing ties) and lets them in on his next scheme: he has created a ninety foot tall chocolate bunny, and plans to have his workers bow down to “the Bunny” and sing “the Bunny Song”.

The performance of “the Bunny Song” is delightful: I really like the close-harmony backup vocals by the Asparagus Singers, and Mr. Nezzar conveys a sufficiently frightening cartoon evil while singing the praises of being a couch potato (though I suppose in his case it would be more accurate to say “couch cucumber”) addicted to chocolate bunnies.

Rack, Shack and Benny, however, have moral qualms about idolizing a giant chocolate bunny, and refuse to bow and sing the song. Mr. Nezzar has them thrown in a factory furnace (where the “bad bunnies” are melted down) but, as in the Book of Daniel, they do not burn, God appears in the furnace ("there's four guys in there, and one of them's reeeal shiny") and makes Mr. Nezzar realize the error of his ways. Everyone lived happily ever after.

Frankly, I think this video depicts the Bible’s message about idolatry better than anything I’ve ever seen, and more clearly than any sermon I’ve ever heard. Dietary restrictions are not completely foreign to Judeo-Christianity, but the Bible itself does not contain any injunction against candy. Candy-worship, however, presented in a silly and exaggerated way serves to contemporize and illustrate the point well, which is to stand up for what you believe in, even when it is unpopular, because “God will back you up”.

THE BUNNY SONG

Mr. Nezzer:
The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the bunny
I don't love my mom or my dad, just the bunny
The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the bunny
I gave everything that I had for the bunny.

I don't want no health food when it's time to feed
A big bag o' bunnies is all that I need!
I don't want no buddies to come out and play
I'll sit on my sofa, eat bunnies all day.

I won't go to church! And I won't go to school!
That stuff is for sissies, but bunnies are cool!

Asparagus singers:
I don't want no pickles, I don't want no honey
I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny!
I don't want to tell you a joke that is funny
I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny!
I don't want a tissue when my nose is runny
I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny!
I don't want to play on a day that is sunny
I just want a plate and a fork and a bunny!

Mr. Nezzer:
The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the bunny
I don't love my mom or my dad, just the bunny
The bunny, the bunny, oh, I love the bunny
I gave everything that I had for the bunny!

Words and Music by Phil Vischer


Source: Dozens of viewings of “Rack, Shack and Benny” (my kids’ favorite) and a handful of other VeggieTales videos.

A side note to an earlier post:

For those who are concerned, Veggie Tales does mention the resurrection of Christ in "The Easter Carol" (released in 2004, after the earlier post).

However, Vischer gives a very specific reason in his autobiography for not mentioning Christ in most of the videos. His mother, who works for the Sunday School curriculum group David C. Cook, gave him two very specific injunctions: 1. Jesus may not be a vegetable. 2. Vegetables may not have a personal relationship of belief and faith with Jesus; people may. Vegetables may not. The result, Vischer states, is that most stories will come from the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).

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