Fans of Disney’s Bluey come in all ages and sizes. Preschoolers and school-aged children love the delightful characters and the gentle stories about family life for the Heelers, but little ones aren’t alone. Parents, grandparents, and even adults who’ve yet to have children have been falling in love with the Australian children’s program that airs on Disney Channel, Disney Junior, and the Disney+ streaming platform since it first debuted more than five years ago.
But fans are still people, after all. And sometimes, people can become negative, unkind, and even mean at times–even when those people double as Bluey fans. And recently, an online group of Bluey fans has reportedly been acting in ways that have others thinking they missed the message of kindness taught in almost every episode of the children’s program.
The ‘Bluey’ Phenomenon
Bluey is an Australian children’s program that was created by animator Joe Brumm as a result of a joint commission between the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the BBC in 2017. The two entities commissioned the show, and Brumm took it from there, drawing at least part of his inspiration from the British cartoon Peppa Pig.
Bluey follows the daily adventures of the Heeler family: Bluey, her younger sister Bingo, and her parents, Chilli and Bandit. Each episode of the show runs approximately seven minutes long, but loads of silliness, fun, family time, social skills, and love are packed into each minute of the show, which is considered an educational program despite the absence of math, numbers, counting, letters, reading, or writing in the show.
The creators of Bluey were determined to show imagination as a tool for learning, setting the show apart from many of its competitors from the beginning.
During its relatively short time on television–just five years in Australia and only four years in the United States, thanks to Disney’s purchase of the broadcasting rights to the show–Bluey has amassed a huge fan following, and many of those fans are extremely passionate about the show, as well as other topics, a scenario which has reportedly led to members of a once-friendly online Bluey fan group to seemingly turn on each other.
A ‘Bluey’ Fan Group–One of Many
In the first few months after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Samantha Speiller, who lives in Round Rock, Texas, began watching episodes of Bluey with her daughter. It didn’t take long for the mom-and-daughter duo to become fans of the Heeler family, and two years after they began watching the show, they were dedicated fans. So it seemed only natural to the young mother to join a Facebook group that featured Bluey-themed memes.
One of the first memes Speiller remembers featured Bluey looking worn out and saying, “But I don’t want a life lesson! I just want an ice cream!” Next to Bluey was her father, Bandit, who was seated at a table, drinking coffee and holding a sign that read, “Bluey is a show for adults disguised as a kids’ show. Change my mind.”
The meme resonated with Speiller, as it might have done with many adult fans of Bluey. The group, called “Bluey Memes,” featured such memes with Bluey and members of Bluey’s family, and it all seemed in good fun. But last spring, Speiller started to notice a change in the group. By her observation, the group had “taken on a different character.” She says that, at first, the change was fairly subtle and included “a slow drift into the culture wars.”
But things have reportedly gotten worse since then, at least according to some members.
The Bluey Memes Group is one of countless fan groups centered around an admiration for the fan-favorite animated children’s show.
As with most groups on Facebook, the Bluey Memes Group has an adopted set of rules–rules that are simple enough and include prohibiting the sharing of photos of any children, the sharing of recently-shared content, including memes and videos, etc., and the like. The moderator of the group makes it clear that there is no censoring or policing of comments or content.
But one of the rules of the group stands out, and not because of the activity it prohibits but rather for the activity it almost seems to encourage.
An Unconventional Rule in the Group
The eighth rule listed on the group’s page reads, “Political & Religious Posts Are Welcome,” and continues with the following:
Must be truthful and no sexualizing kids. This includes ALL alphabet soup nonsense & “woke” agendas. No need to get butt hurt if you don’t agree with it. If you don’t agree, just scroll along like an adult. If you choose to engage in conversation or banter, that’s on you. It’s the internet & if you want to waste your day arguing with strangers, have at it. Don’t come crying to admin. I’m not the Bluey Internet police. Please note that I DO NOT censor. People can say what they want.
Has the Group’s Rule Encouraged the Negative Comments?
In any group in which members are permitted to “say what they want,” there’s bound to be some negativity and disagreement, right? But then again, free speech is part of the Constitutional guarantees for American citizens. And then again, some say there should be certain limits, especially as they pertain to verbal and online attacks on groups and individuals.
Lyra Jones, a 31-year-old mom in Wisconsin, says she first joined the Bluey Memes Group because “at first, it seemed like a fairly fun, wholesome group.”
“Honestly, some of the memes and comments felt a little off sometimes, but there was nothing that really warned about how bad it was about to get,” Jones continued.
Last year, Jones says they started seeing comments that seemed “off,” but at a later time, memes attacking various groups began to pop up more frequently. A post from September depicts Bluey’s father, Bandit, and a caption that reads, “I was once a man trapped in a woman’s body. Then I was born.”
When online groups reach a certain size, splintering is common—factions are created by dissidents who don’t like the way the mother ship is being run. Last year, Jones started their own Bluey-meme group, self-identified as a “leftist” community where bigotry would be against the rules but “making fun of bigots” would be tolerated.
Politics Takes Over
According to The Atlantic, former members of the Bluey Memes Group say that during the winter of 2022 and spring of 2023, political messaging with a far-right tone began to take rise in the group.
One member who reportedly has a role in local politics is said to have “abruptly” posted multiple memes in the group that depicted Bingo, Bluey’s younger sister, standing at the top of a staircase making, calling out leftist psychos, climate change idiot believers, and other derogatory terms and announcing that members who fall into those groups “have no power here.”
An Administrator Wants No Part in Stepping In
Rachel Homolak, creator of the Bluey Memes Group, has stuck to her principles when it comes to her belief in First Amendment rights and her distaste for censoring. When it comes to moderating posts in the group, which has amassed more than 300,000 members since it was incepted in 2021, Homolak is clear.
“I am a firm believer in the First Amendment,” she explains. “So I don’t censor anyone unless it’s a call to violence like telling someone to unalive themselves. People can bicker and argue as much as they’d like. It’s the internet, and I’m not their mommy.”
She continued, saying, “Once word got out on social media that I allowed Conservative and Christian content in my group, people joined in droves, and liberals left in droves–of course, complaining first,” Homolak said. “It all happened organically. Conservative content increased, and I approved it. It’s not my fault leftists don’t make memes.”
And Bluey fans who join the Bluey Meme Group shouldn’t be surprised if they see more conservative content in the online Facebook group, as Homolak says that she eventually stopped approving members’ posts that leaned to the political left, and she was also clear about the reason for her decision.
“Leftists are so nasty on the internet,” she said, adding, “You can’t just make up fever fantasy dreams about Trump, put it in meme form, and expect me to approve it.”
The Future of the Bluey Meme Group
It remains to be seen what will become of the online Facebook group dedicated to memes shared by fans of Bluey. Will the group continue to grow rapidly, as it has since it was first started two years ago–or will membership slow and trail off?
That’s any fan’s guess, but as there are more groups on Facebook than anyone cares to count, it’s likely that fans who don’t agree with the content and themes in the Bluey Meme Group won’t have to look too far to find a group dedicated to Bluey fandom that is also centered around content that aligns more closely with their political and social views.