Other than perhaps test patterns, it would be difficult to find any offering on TV blander or more wholesome than PBS’ incredibly long-lived Arthur, the animated adventures of an anthropomorphic aardvark and his various relatives, neighbors, and schoolmates in a sanitized suburban world. Sure, the series occasionally manages to work in some sly in-jokes for parents, including a spoof of Comedy Central’s raunchy South Park, but for the most part, Arthur aims for across-the-board acceptability. That way, moms and dads can park their kids in front of it for a half hour without having to worry about anyone’s sensibilities being offended.
But it is Arthur’s goody-two-shoes nature that makes it the perfect subject for raunchy Twitter memes, as proven on Thursday by the popular #ArthurMemes hashtag. The show, in a sense, is so pure that it paradoxically makes the ideal straight man for the filthy-minded jesters of the internet. Since the educational series is fast approaching its 20th anniversary, it stands to reason that kids who grew up watching Arthur are now of an age to make risqué sex jokes, like this gem from @kananjrr:
A simple close-up of Arthur’s clenched fist was an especially popular image on Twitter, becoming the universal symbol of building rage. Here’s a typical example from @Teddybeaaar_:
And then there is that already-infamous picture of Arthur wearing headphones that somehow do not align with his ears at all. This anatomical absurdity has already been the source of internet controversy, but the #ArthurMemes hashtag suggests that this is possibly a passive-aggressive move on the character’s part. In other words, this aardvark knows exactly what he’s doing. The following tweet by @ifeelglorious is representative of many similar jokes:
So Arthur’s kind of a dick. Got it. Some may feel that the #ArthurMemes hashtag sullies the reputation of a beloved character. Others may even go so far as to say that their childhood has now been “ruined.” But remember, Arthur fans, the internet is doing this out of love for the franchise. If the show weren’t so relentlessly cute and lovable, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun dragging it through the mud this way.