“What Does the Fox Say?” (Ylvis)

In 1965, Fisher-Price created See ‘n Say, a pie-shaped toy divided into twelve wedges, and each with an image of an animal. Using the center pointer, you chose your animal, and pulled the string.  You then heard the sound, such as: “The cow says, ‘Moo’.” Choices included sheep, dog, duck, frog, horse, coyote, rooster, pig, cow, bird, cat, and turkey. But no fox. Add just one more pie wedge and Fisher-Price might have included the fox. But if the fox had been included, then we’d all be wondering about the hedgehog, the tapir, and the orangutan. OK, no problem: let’s add three more wedges. Yet the best estimates today are that there are over 1,500,000 animal species on this planet, and no toy company could make the pie big enough or the wedges small enough to account for such diversity. But perhaps we could throw it all onto a computer, giving the child access to every sound of every creature. Now, though, we’ve made it completely useless to a two-year old. Thus, in order for the child to learn to remember a certain number of animal sounds, it has to begin by “forgetting” the rest. We might say that there must always be a “fox,” operating as a black hole and aiding memory. Ylvis isn’t trying to overcome an oversight or omission in the multicultural woods; and that’s why, when the singers claim to speak for this “fox,” they sound just like a Skrillex break.


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