Cologne. “My grandma rides a motorcycle in the chicken coop” is one of the classics of the funniest children’s songs. Now, however, the WDR has triggered a wave of outrage with a satirical verbal horn of the song sung by its children’s choir. The stumbling block is the verse: “My grandma is an old environmental pig.”
A so-called shitstorm on the Internet with more than 15,000 Facebook comments up to Saturday evening swept across Westdeutscher Rundfunk. The WDR had already deleted the video from the WDR2 Facebook page on Friday evening and apologized “for the unsuccessful action”.
NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) made his indignation about the environmental satire air on Twitter. Finally, on Saturday evening, WDR director Tom Buhrow called from his 92-year-old father’s hospital bed in a special program on WDR 2. There he described the “video with the accident granny song” as a mistake. “I apologize without any ifs and buts.” His father always worked hard. “He is not an environmental pig,” said Buhrow.
Around 30 girls sing controversial lines
In the video, around 30 girls in the studio sang the lines, among other things: “My grandma rides a motorcycle in the chicken coop. That’s a thousand liters of super every month. My grandma is an old environmental pig.” Another stanza said: “My grandma drives an SUV to the doctor and runs over two grandpas with a walker.” The topics of cheap discount meat and cruises are not left out either.
“We hit a relatively small nail with a big hammer,” said WDR 2 program director Jochen Rausch ruefully in the special program and apologized several times. The word “environmental pig” has been associated with the “dear grandma” reading stories in the evening. “That pushes the red button for many people,” says Rausch. One did not work with the “necessary linguistic subtlety” and “did not think long enough”.
There were also positive reactions to the video. Many listeners and users accused those responsible of lacking respect for the elderly and instrumentalizing children for an “embarrassing” or “ideological” video. Others laughed at it. “Apparently, many people cannot tolerate holding up a mirror to them,” said a listener on the WDR program. “You have to endure satire,” said 14-year-old Ricarda. “What is so bad about it?” The children are old enough to know what they are singing. “They still love their grandparents.”
The editorial team regretted “that the satire has hurt the feelings of part of the audience,” said the WDR. This was not the intention of the action. “Rather, the aim was to use satire to address the generational conflict created by the Fridays for Future movement.”
Laschet: Children are exploited
Laschet and the CDU politician Ruprecht Polenz criticized that children were exploited in the climate protection debate of adults. The WDR had crossed the boundaries of style and respect for the elderly with the song, tweeted Laschet. “Instrumentalizing young against old is not acceptable.” The WDR rejected the allegation that the children involved had been abused. “We regret that this impression appears to have been isolated.”
At the end of the video you can see choir girls move their lips with a serious look and hear the voice of environmental activist Greta Thunberg: “We will not let you get away with this”.
“Why do you send such an impertinence?” Wrote a user outraged on Facebook about the song. “Underground”, “lowest level”, “a cheek,” said others. But other users showed understanding: “If you take into account the age of the children, we mean the 50-70-year-olds today (…) There is really something in it.” Satirist Jan Böhmermann also tweeted: “If you fry cheap discount supermarket meat every day, you’re an environmental pig.”
A WDR listener did not understand all the excitement about the grandma song. “Otherwise we could have been upset earlier about the chickens in the barn being exposed to motorcycle exhaust fumes.”