Tinny screams provided the aural backdrop, and the promise of goo-drenched celebrities supplied the suspense, for Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards Saturday night, hosted by Jack Black. It was a shout-tastic celebration of hyperactivity, idol worship and slime theory that even a montage of Cameron Diaz’s boring eco-positivity couldn’t hamper. Sorry, but when I watch the KCAs, I’d rather think green in terms of how much of the radioactive-snot-hued slime would get dumped, hurled and unleashed from cannons. Besides, having the singer Akon in a cordoned-off parking lot drive a vehicle into barrels of the gelatinous stuff so it sprayed into the air and blanketed the surrounding area was closer to fetishizing an oil spill than sending a message about conservation. Better to wait, I say, until the young’uns reach high school age before dampening the channel’s pop-culture ethos of gleeful messiness with instructions on how eventually they’ll have to clean it all up.

Is there anything children can learn from the show? Actually, yes. Beyond Harrison Ford’s demonstration that the most elegant way to exit a sliming is to calmly top your green-soaked head with an Indiana Jones hat, there’s a solid exercise in memorization and deductive reasoning available when it comes to who wins the awards. Just have your little one pay attention to the list of celebrities who are announced with excitement at the top of the show as making special appearances. When it’s time to reveal, say, the favorite-male-singer nominees, simply ask, “Which one’s there tonight, squirt?” “Chris Brown?” “Bingo!”

Pretty soon they’ll be eagle-eyed audience scourers. “Hey, Mom, I saw Ryan Seacrest in one of the seats. American Idol is gonna win reality show!” “Oh, hey, Miley Cyrus is performing; I guess she’s getting female singer.” “I know this one too. Can I go get another soda, Mom?” “Do they all know ahead of time?” “God, this is boring. Is nothing in life sacred?”

Okay, maybe you should save the education in the realities of A-list wrangling for later.

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