Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sesame Street 40th anniversary

Sadly, it's bound to happen at some point.. The shittiness that pop culture foists upon America will ultimately steer us into a direction in which parents and teachers no longer consider Sesame Street a vital developmental tool for pre-school children. And at some point in the next 10 to 25 years, it will probably get cancelled. We seem to be in a good spot for now, however, since even in 2009, Elmo has remained as popular as ever. And the guy who does Elmo's puppeteering and voice is still decently young in comparison to the old-timers like Frank Oz, who unfortunately retired from The Muppets and Sesame Street in 2008, or Caroll Spinney who is still performing as Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch at age 75.

The bottom line: Sesame Street is clearly one of the greatest shows of all time, obviously because of the knowledge children gain from it, and less obviously and perhaps equally important, because of the surprisingly great entertainment value it offers due to the talent of the puppeteers. I'd like to think that puppeteering chemistry from a duo like Jim Henson and Frank Oz may be something we could witness from future Sesame Street characters, but as far as I can tell the funniest and best moments of this show to date are in episodes from the 70's and 80's.

Which brings us to the reason for this post.. CNN posted this article on Thursday morning: 'Sesame Street's' been swept, but the magic of show remains, a well-meaning but ultimately flawed tribute...

On the DVDs, Cookie Monster can be seen as his character of Alistair Cookie in his "Monsterpiece Theatre" segment (a spoof of Alistair Cooke's "Masterpiece Theatre") smoking a pipe. Yep, Cookie Monster smoked.

This is the first I've heard of anyone criticizing Cookie Monster for being a smoker, simply an egregiously incorrect conclusion. Even as a 3-year-old kid, I was able to figure out that Cookie's pipe was simply a prop, included for the sake of parody. No smoke comes out of it. And at the end of the sketch, he eats the pipe. It's a joke.

Today, Cookie Monster's diet is much more balanced, as he has adopted the philosophy that cookies are a "sometimes food." Cookie coincidentally changed his tune in 2006 amidst reports that childhood obesity had reached epidemic proportions.

See, here's the thing about Cookie Monster.. And this may be from only one perspective, but he never once made me crave cookies, partially because his TV cookies always looked like cardboard. And also because IT'S A JOKE. Humor was sacrificed due to a problem that has far more to do with McDonald's. Pretty sad.

Those early years are now available on DVD; and the discs contain a disclaimer that essentially states that they are intended for nostalgia purposes only. The warning reads as follows: "These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child." ... For better or worse, today's preschooler is very different from the 1969 version. And children's television programming simply has to reflect that.

Call me crazy, but "today's pre-schooler" is exactly the same as he or she has ever been. The only thing that's changed is what's considered PC, and what teachers and parents now think our kids should be consuming.

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