Sesame Street Turns 40 – Oscar and His Fellow Grouches Uphold Conservative Values

One of the great joys of being a parent of a young child has been to rediscover ‘Sesame Street’. While I fondly remember this program from my childhood, my enthusiasm has been greatly elevated as a result of now having had the privilege of watching this program while sitting next to my own kid.

I have a new perspective on some of the segments, a new appreciation for the lessons and being an adult I have an “adult” appreciation of things like “production value” as every discerning modern age adult viewer would. Of course I also have a new perspective on some of the characters – Ernie is still funny, but now sometime Bert makes me laugh too, The Count is crazier than I remember and that is saying something, I’m still getting used to Elmo and of course Oscar is now my favorite (close second is the Two Headed Monster, which by the way PBS if you’re reading this – these guys need more play!) so it’s been particularly hard to learn that somehow Oscar, and for that matter Sesame Street is involved in political brinkmanship on the eve of what should be, and for the most part is a great celebration – 40 Years on the air.

Apparently an episode that originally aired in 2007, back when George W was running the big show and dramatically slashing budgets for PBS, has recently aired again. The episode in question (this link will bring you to the episode) featured Oscar and was hosted by Anderson Cooper – the Sesame audience was introduced to the most complainiest TV network – The Grouch News Network or GNN, and yes, there was a shot taken at Fox – technically Pox News, but there were also “shots” taken at CNN, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and mostly news in general. Regardless it’s ‘Sesame Street’ and despite what the big people may want to say, the program is geared toward kids – little kids.

Sadly Oscar’s GNN network is being taken to the woodshed by a number of people in the press, Fox News has prominently displayed their version of the story on the Fox News website, and while it appears a good majority of the nation is actively celebrating Sesame Street, the program’s commitment to education and concepts like sharing, cooperation, the alphabet and the understanding of shapes, our friends at Fox seem to feel that now is the time to make some noise and promote their version of how ‘Sesame Street’ should be reported. Quite frankly I find this extremely annoying and even more so disappointing.

Generally I’ve attempted to present a variety of sides to a variety of issues, to avoid personal opinion to as great an extent as I possibly can but this one really bothers me. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s premiere, but I can’t help but wonder how the staff meeting went down where Fox decided there was a good ‘Sesame Street’ angle to play and that now was the time to bring the hammer down on ‘Sesame’. At a certain point you’d have to think that most news people would simply say enough is enough, and maybe we should focus on reporting the news rather than making it. I just hope this all isn’t about taking a shot at Obama and the First Lady (by the way in case you missed it Michelle Obama is the host for the first episode of Season 40).

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