Simon engages in an entertaining speculation, but taken very seriously: are the Teletubbies utopian science-fiction?
The Teletubbies, I’d suggest, are contemporary versions of Wells’s Eloi, those indolent foppish creatures from The Time Machine. Indeed, they are a more thoroughly-worked through rendering of the Eloi mode of life. Where Wells saw his Eloi as adults, still capable despite their degeneracy of adult pastimes (so that Wells’s time traveller is for instance able to have sex with the Eloi Weena), the Teletubbies inhabit a more self-consistent vision of complete degeneracy.
Let’s put it this way: imagine a culture that develops such sophisticated technical prostheses that its inhabitants no longer need to work, to worry, to strive in any way. Imagine those inhabitants, through choice or through evolutionary pressure, losing all stress-related functions of adult consciousness: work-ethic, conscience, guilt, lust, anger, avarice. Imagine them, in other words, regressing back wholly to a toddler’s existence, finding in that simplicity a maximum fit between existence and stress-free-satisfaction, like those German 40-something businessmen who like dressing in nappies and rolling around on the carpets of speciality brothels. Or, in fact, not like those men, because (unlike the Eloi) the Teletubbies have discarded the sex impulse as well, abandoning with it the dangerously fretful anxiety-gratification ratio of adult sexual life.
The machines in Teletubbyland, in other words, are the devices necessary to free mankind from its attachment to the adult world of necessity, provision and work. And once freed from those constraints, the show suggests, evolution or choice leads life back into the calm, bright satisfactions of toddlerdom. The Teletubbies are purer Eloi than the Eloi, a more complete rendering of the old SF convention about degeneration. Wells characterised his Eloi as child-like in some respect, but adult-like in others (physical appearance, sexual appetite). Huxley’s Brave New World also posited human global happiness upon an infantilisation of the human animal, although his future humans are also adult in appearance and physical appetite.