Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Late to the Party... As Usual

So... in the "we've been meaning to blog about this" category... Sesame Street turned 40 (!) on the tenth of this month.  It was a pretty big deal and rightly so.

Now that's the Good news.  There's Bad News, too.  As with everything these days... and most especially "things" that appear on PBS and NPR... Sesame Street has become Politically Correct, and more's the pity.  Proof:
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."
Say what!? Never did I ever think I'd see "Sesame Street" and "intended for grown-ups" in the same sentence.
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.
He later eats the pipe because, as he was often prone to doing, he thinks the pipe is a cookie. Cookie Monster used to become so overwhelmed by his desire for cookies that he'd start seeing (hallucinating about?) cookies that weren't actually there. He'd eat (rotary) telephones, typewriters (what are those?), pencils, almost anything. It was funny.
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.
Early "Sesame Street" had some other elements that would not pass muster today. Oscar the Grouch is just plain nasty, children are seen riding their bikes without helmets, and there's even a sketch where the human character of Gordon can be seen approaching a little girl on the street. He takes her by the hand and brings her into his house for milk and cookies (again with the cookies!). Clearly, that could be misinterpreted by today's standards.
Now, some 4,000 episodes later, 123 Sesame Street has gotten that power washing. Peeling paint is nowhere to be found, and the only visible garbage can has a tenant. It's much more sanitized. I'm tempted to make fun of this, but then I notice the bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel on my desk and bite my proverbial tongue.
For better or worse, today's preschooler is very different from the 1969 version. And children's television programming simply has to reflect that. 
Worse, I'd say.   But CNN is right when they say early Sesame Street was as much for grown ups as it was for the kids.  One of my favorite memories of SN1's and SN2's early childhood are the days when I would get off a mid shift, come home, go to bed and the three of us... SN1, SN2, me (and quite often The First Mrs. Pennington, as well)... would watch Sesame Street as I slowly drifted off to sleep.  But sleep wouldn't come easy when the show was on... as The Count would crack me up and so would Oscar.  Big Bird not so much. I always thought he was kinda cheesy.  All that said: Congrats to Sesame Street and may you have 40 more years!
Time flies, eh?  Which is a left-handed introduction to posting a gratuitous pic of the boys from around that time...

That would be SN1 (about five) on the left and SN2 (about three) on the right.  SN1 pins on his major's leaves a week from today and SN2 will pin on the silver leaves of a squidly commander sometime in the coming year.  Time does fly right by, indeedBoth boys have far exceeded their Ol' Man when it comes to military success, and that's (a) a good thing and (b) no big-ass surprise.  I'm bettin' I had more fun, though.


  1. I used to love Sesame Street too. Oscar was my fave - and his pet, Wormy. I also liked the introduction of the Snuffalupugus (sp?) and always thought Big Bird was - ridiculous.

    Which always made me laugh at myself - a big yellow bird ridiculous amongst a blue cookie fiend, 2 grouchy friends and something that lived in a garbage can.

  2. I was more into the Muppets.

    Great pic of the boys Buck, love the look the black & white gives.

  3. I was a little too old for Sesame Street, but I love the Muppets. I also love the pic of your boys.

  4. Success ain't measured in rank alone, Buck. Congrats to you and the boys.

    Bert probably waxes his unibrow by now - I would ask if he and Ernie still share a bed, but I assume homosexual overtones to be fully encouraged by the PC movement that took the pipe out of the cookie monster's hands. One of them probably wears a dress by now.

  5. Awww, aren't they cute!! (And one would assume they still are.)

    Congrats on having kids you can brag about, too. And are there lots of grandkids and daughters-in-laws? (I'm sooooo subtle, aren't I?) :)

  6. Kris: You make a good point about ridiculousness. But... it's good to laugh at one's self, innit?

    Small-Tee: The Muppets were the BEST part of Sesame Street, hands down. Still are, too.

    Lou: You're NEVER too old for Sesame Street, are ya? Confession time: I still watch the occasional show from time to time. Srsly.

    Andy: Thanks for the kind words, re: success. Regardless, you can't imagine how many times I had to "do some splainin'" to my post-USAF civilian peers when they inquired about my military career. But then again, your average civilian has very little idea about what the NCO/petty officer corps actually DOES. T'is a whole nuther story, that.

    Kath: Subtlety is HIGHLY over-rated. ;-)

    I have a full complement of all of the above: two DILs, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. At last count. I think. ;-)

    And a 12 year old who lives with his mom in Colorado.

  7. Oh god the Muppets! Miss Piggy and Animal are the best ones evah!

  8. Buck, I never watched Sesame Street, but two oldest sons loved it. I guess I shoulda taken the time to watch it with them.

    The Mrs. bought them SS books, cassettes, etc. for their birthdays, Christmas, etc.

    Man, those are some cute boys. I'm pretty sure they've had a haircut since then, though.

    My friend, that is real success. God bless 'em both.

  9. Small-Tee and Kris: I misunderstood ya when you said "The Muppets." I thought you meant the SS Muppets, not the stand-alone show. My Bad.

    Andy: Thanks. As far as watching Sesame Street in the way-back... I was still pretty much a kid myself. Therein may lie the difference. And yeah, both boys wear their hair VERY short... even for the military... these days.

  10. Nyuk! Yep, I've seen SN1's photos, and figured as much.

    Good men, the both of 'em. Man, time does fly.

  11. I doubt that I ever missed an episode as a child. It was followed in the lineup by Mr. Rogers and the Electric Company. I don't think it damaged my childhood...I don't eat too many cookies, and have never mistaken a telephone or a pipe for food.

    And to echo Andy (I), don't discredit your service or your rank. Without us senior enlisted the whole structure would collapse.

    And yeah, I bet you did have more fun.

  12. Sesame Street was always politically correct. But back when it started, the term had yet to be coined. Plus, the world of correctness has evolved since then.

  13. BR: Thanks... you're so very right about senior enlisted folks. I watched Mr. Rogers a lot, too! Ol' Fred was very, very cool.

    Gordon: Ya think SS was always PC? I get your point, but I'm thinking there's a tremendous difference between raising kids sensibly and being PC about it.

  14. I lurved Sesame Street! I credit SS for helping me learn how to read before I even started school. Heh, I guess SS and I started around the same time, I'll be celebrating my fortieth BD in a few months. Yee-HAH, I'm looking forward to my forties. I'm only getting better with age. ;)

    Your two older sons were adorable, btw. Now they're much too mature and manly to be referred to in such terms. Congrats to them both on the promotions.

    Oh, and my Dad retired from the Army as a CSM after 32 years. I don't think any officer (in his or her right mind) would suggest that NCOs were unnecessary or unimportant in the military...

  15. Christina: The 40s ARE good; you have a lot to look forward to, methinks. Personally... it's a toss-up as to which was better... my 30s or my 40s. Each decade had its highs and lows, so it's hard to say. It's been sorta downhill since then... ;-)

    Thanks for the other kind words. My hat's off to your Dad, as well. 32 years is a LONG time to serve on the E side. Not many make it that far or that long!


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