Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Friendly Neighbors Meet

I recently decided to watch the pilot episode of Sesame Street. I know I'm supposed to give you a link here so you can order it from Amazon or put it in your Netflix queue but I'm a little slow and haven't figured out how to do that yet, so if you're interested just go to Amazon or Netflix and find it yourself. Anyway, the pilot was definitely groovy and far-out; it premiered in the fall of 1969, and felt like it. The disc contained an interesting bonus feature: the reel sent to PBS affiliates explaining the rational for the show and encouraging them to pick it up. The concept of children (and puppets) teaching children was new at the time, as was the concept of structuring the lessons as you would a commercial. All well and good, but I mainly spent my viewing time trying to figure something out. You see, the disc began with a disclaimer that the material contained in the pilot episode is not appropriate for preschool viewers and is meant for adult audiences.


What could possibly have been considered preschool-age appropriate 40 years ago that is now inappropriate? After watching the pilot twice I still lack a clue; if any of you can figure this out, please let me know.

The show begins with a young girl, new to Sesame Street, being led around by the hand by nice neighbor Gordon. The girl's parents are nowhere to be seen. Gordon is black and the girl is white. Is this what's inappropriate?

Gordon introduces the girl to Ernie and Bert, who live in the basement of his building. Ernie and Bert are interracial and probably gay. Is this what's inappropriate (and aren't they still interracial and probably gay, and still on the show)?

Gordon's wife invites the girl in for milk and cookies, then realizes she's out of milk and so sends them to Mr. Hooper's store to buy some. Is the corner ghetto store run by a white man undoubtedly charging double what a suburban store would charge for milk the inappropriate thing?

We next see a ridiculously long film where inner-city children go to a farm to find out where milk comes from. The film features close-ups of udders being pulled, milk splashing all over the place, more udders. This part, I found inappropriate for adult viewing and downright gross, and had to fast-forward through it. Kids probably don't mind udders and milk, though. Or is the inappropriate part the fact that milk no longer comes from a small farm where cows are milked by hand, but instead from some huge agri-business milk lot where the cow is fed hormones and hooked to a machine all day?

The girl and a little boy have milk and cookies in Gordon's apartment while Gordon and a friend hang a picture using a hammer and nail. Is this an example of pernicious hidden sexual content?

Ernie takes a bath in what appears to be a tub in his living room and sings the rubber duckie song. We see upper-body puppet nudity. Is this inappropriate?

Sesame Street was brought to you by the numbers 2 and 3, and the letters S and W. All those curves - inappropriate?

All in all, it's a good thing I don't have kids. Clearly, I'd let them wander down a ghetto street, cavort with puppets, and have unsupervised milk and cookies with people of all races.


Sandy said...

You crack me up. Your vision of the world is slightly skewed...or amazingly clear. I'm not sure which.

tunsie said...

my first issue with this site,while i have inside knowledge,why didn't Brody wear one of his fancy bandanas{and i know he has a lot of them]on the cover instead of a black he trying to be like uncle.heck,pretty soon he'll be listening to jazz and using cigars[only 4 medicinal purposes].what's going on here.tunsie.tunsie.tunsie