What you see is what you are.
You’re a naked movie star!
This was a popular taunt among younger kids at my grade school (Iowa, mid 80s), and the research I’ve done on it was a real shocker. As it turns out, we were VERY lucky that nothing bad came of our repeating it.
I’m sure it was more widespread than this, but from what I can find on google, this seems to have been current in exactly two places: my school, and a pre-school in California (edit: comments indicate that it was also current in southern IL, where kids learned it from kids who had moved in from St. Louis, so it was definitely fairly widespread). To my knowledge, no one got in any trouble because of it in Iowa. But in California, the fact that kids were saying this was seen as “proof” that the kids were being sexually abused and forced to participate in bizarre Satanic rituals involving human sacrifice.
So this was the rhyme that kicked off the McMartin Preschool Trial, which, in turn, started the Satanic Panic era, when talk show hosts, televangelists, and assorted hucksters convinced parents that there were millions of Satanists operating as part of a massive international conspiracy disguised as priests, pre-school teachers, day care center owners, and, in many versions of the theory, the Pope. According to these stories, children everywhere were not just being abused and forced to star in child porn films while at day care, they were being dragged into underground basements and secret lairs to participate in all sorts of hideous rituals that were setting up the world for Satan to take over. Most of the stories veered well into the realm of the absurd. It was, especially in hindsight, a case of mass hysteria.
Many people (mostly women, in contrast to most sexual abuse cases) were taken into court and – even sent to jail – on evidence no stronger than kids knowing the rhyme above. As far as I know, they’re all out of jail now – the kids grew older and said their testimony was just them telling the investigators what they wanted to hear.
|I probabaly shouldn’t go into it too much here – even now, I’m afraid I’ll get some nasty mail for being skeptic about widespread satanic ritual abuse. The book on the left is the best I’ve seen on the whole sordid affair. Looking through it now, I’m just glad that no teacher in my town (that I know of) was accused of anything on the basis that we knew this rhyme – some parent could have heard that rhyme on the news and thought it was a warning sign. This isn’t to say that nothing bad or outrageous ever happened in my town (heck, the DARE officer turned out to be selling crack), but I feel like I’m safe in saying that there wasn’t much in the way of Satanism in Des Moines.|
But, anyway, I assume that kids outside of that one pre-school and my elementary school knew that rhyme. Did it go back far enough, at least in Des Moines, that parents knew not to be alarmed by it? Any other sightings?