Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sesame Street: Modern Shakespeare

This absurd article regarding the unsuitability of the original episodes of Sesame Street for young children is hilarious. Oscar the Grouch is an inappropriate character because he clearly needs anti-depressants. Cookie Monster glorifies gluttony and obesity. Big Bird must be on acid because he keeps seeing Snuffy when no one else can. In addition to inappropriate character sketches, Sesame Street glorified the inner city, and exposed kids to the inner workings of factories, farms, stores, parks, zoos, etc. How dare it give kids ideas about worlds beyond their own!

The idea that young children should not be privy to adult themes rings false. What children should have is appropriate exposure, with well-crafted adult explanations to guide their comprehension. I loved Sesame Street (and subsequently The Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood) in part because I got the sense that adults had created all this fantastic television for me to watch and learn from. I also loved the Muppet Show because I had this sense that when I was older, I would find it even more entertaining-- probably because my parents thought it was just as funny as I did, and they did NOT enjoy my Strawberry Shortcake records nearly as much.

I can still watch old PBS television and not find it ridiculous. I can't say the same for a lot of the dreck on Disney, Nickelodeon and Sprout.

I will admit that putting everything in an urban context, as all those shows did, gives later viewings an anachronistic vibe, but the ideas are still universal.

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