Grossology

@ OMSI, 1945 SE Water, through May 1

Poo poo. Pee pee head. Doodie eater. There. Did I make you laugh? Yeah? Then maybe the show Grossology is for you and perhaps there's a position available for me at OMSI, where this painfully bad exhibition was conceived.

The premise is self-explanatory, as is the show's reason for existing. Kids, 99% of whom have no interest in going to a museum of any sorts in their free time, are being lulled to the newest exhibit at OMSI with words like "doodie" and "vomit-slurpers." Grossology promises exhibits about the various bodily functions that pre-adolescents delight in and that Nickelodeon has built a multi-million dollar empire on. Nickelodeon, of course, never pretends to be anything more than gross-out humor that serves as a vehicle for merchandising sales and advertising dollars, whereas the basic function of a museum is to provide a repository for ideas and objects that would have difficulties surviving if not for the museums, who are supposed to preserve them while making them available to the public. Oh--and also to make plastic turds and position them under cartoon-y elephant asses.

So what of the show itself? It was even worse than I had braced myself for. The exhibit hall is filled with roughly a dozen stations devoted to the aforementioned topics. Most of the displays feature laughably crude animatronics that would have been taken off rotation at Chuck E. Cheese in the late '80s. (Sample dialogue: "I'm Nurse Grossness"). Everything is interactive, so kids are pressing buttons at random, pulling levers, and climbing over things at every turn. Educational panels, which do provide interesting cocktail-party trivia, are hung far above children's head level and are summarily ignored. (FACT: Animals that eat fish usually emit poo with a fishy smell). At the "belch" display, which informs us that male frogs store eggs in their vocal sacs, there is a game where plastic balls can be shot from frogs mouths into circular holes like a pointless, prize-less game at the Rose Fest.

If I were the suspicious type, I'd be curious to know if OMSI's director doesn't support a Republican agenda and dreams of a nation of deep red states. If he didn't, why would he be systematically dumbing down our children, turning even their museums into anti-educational, fast food playgrounds where they're supposed to smack any brightly colored object without even thinking first?