S01xE04: You Can’t Do That Without a Hat

The All-Knowing Trash Heap

The trash heap is pretty sweet

Boober learns to believe in himself with the help of superstition and the placebo effect!

Boober wants courage, and the Trash Heap tells him he needs to wear his hat, which Boober totally buys, and he goes around being brave just long enough to lose his hat and panic. But then he acts bravely while he’s not wearing the hat, and realizes the courage has been inside himself all along. There is a song and everyone is happy. You can all be brave if you decide to be! I am pretty sure that is not very close to how it really works, but anxiety and self-doubt really are on some level a self-fulfilling prophecy, so I’m not going to quibble on this point with a show aimed at 6-year-olds.

We do finally a little bit of how Fraggles organize themselves. Boober’s friends dig up a previously-unseen elder Fraggle in order to hold a meeting, which basically consists of the old guy showing up and telling everyone to look for Boober’s hat, and then they do. Considering the utter lack of argument in this meeting, Wembley must be a lot more representitive of the average Fraggle temperament than say, Red or Boober. I’ve never tried to make a decision with a group of more than three people that didn’t involve way too much time talking about it.

Boober in the Gorg's garden

Boober, being brave without his hat!

In other news, Doozers uphold traditional gender roles by being construction workers and also only being male.

Also there’s something about exchanging things and losing and finding and I don’t know what, in the bits with Uncle Traveling Matt and Doc. Ok. The song Boober sings when he gets his hat back is supposed to tie all this together, I think, but I’m not really feeling it.

Considering that all Doozers do is build, there really should be some lady Doozers building, too. You could argue, at this point in the series (not having seen later episodes that do involve female Doozers) that there just aren’t lady Doozers, but Fraggles and Gorgs clearly have two sexes, and even if Doozers are the exception, why should they be so obviously coded masculine? It just doesn’t make sense except for the part where it is a natural consequence of unexamined sexist assumptions about gender roles. I want better from you, Fraggle Rock. Come to think of it, I’m not sure many of the bit-part or background Fraggles are female either, but since Fraggles don’t seem to have much in the way of secondary sex characteristics aside from vocal pitch anyway, I guess this isn’t too much of a thing at this point.

Also now that I think about it, the Trash Heap may not precisely be a source of authority for the Fraggles, but she’s certainly trusted without question. And her advice to Boober certainly hinges on that – she could have told him just about anything would give him confidence, and he would have believed her, and it would have worked. His confidence in her would be transformed into confidence in himself. But she also basically lies to him – he doesn’t actually need the hat, he just needs to believe. And when he realizes that at the end, wouldn’t he realize that she, in some sense, tricked him? I’m seeing kind of a pattern to this benevolent deception thing.

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