In case you missed it, “The Fox” (2013) went viral last week (and currently has over 33 million views), leaving TJP’s Matt Spotts, S.J., wondering why. Join the crowd, Matt, because even the Ylvisåker brothers, the hosts of the Norwegian variety show Ylvis that gave birth to “The Fox,” are just as stunned by the song’s unexpected explosion in popularity. BuzzFeed’s Ellie Hall says that the bizarre song “is the craziest, or perhaps best, music video on the internet,” but she also lacks the words to explain why.
But I think I have an idea. The video and lyrics reminded me of some fable or story I read or heard as a child. I immediately thought of Dr. Seuss and found his Fox in Socks: A Tongue Twister for Super Children (1965), a childhood favorite, on YouTube:
In fact, when you stop and think about it,
sounds almost as crazy as,
There’s not a kid in the English-speaking world, I’ll bet, who hasn’t read Dr. Seuss. Some of Dr. Seuss’ books like The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Green Eggs and Ham teach children some valuable lessons for good living, but others like Fox in Socks don’t make a lot of sense but are still a lot of fun both to listen to and read aloud.
Even without any discernable meaning, this good, clean fun is the kind of fun that sticks with us regardless of our age. Both Dr. Seuss’ and Ylvis’ fun foxes produce a healthy high that is slow to fade away, unlike other types of fleeting “fun” that quickly drop us and leave us feeling icky instead. In her book Why Do We All Love Dr. Seuss?, Dr. Lois Einhorn writes: “Seuss’s books let us observe ourselves, enjoy the gifts of the world, and understand more fully our interconnectedness with all of life….Seuss deals with the basic human experiences. His children’s books give voice to the deep desires of the heart.”
Real fun goes back to the basics, draws from the fundamental goodness of the human heart, resonates with all, and draws hearts back to that fundamental goodness. “The Fox” and Fox in Socks summon an attentiveness to what foxes have to say, something that would normally escape our notice, tapping into that basic, childlike wonder that finds goodness at every turn in the world. The heart of fun lies in the depth of a childlike heart.
And so, as Mr. Fox’s friend, exhausted from the nonsensical tongue-twister, said to him,
Fox in socks, our game is done, sir.
Thank you for a lot of fun, sir.
I too say “thank you” to “The Fox” (and Ylvis) for a lot of fun.