The Spectacle Blog

Obama and the Street

By on 11.9.09 | 3:29PM

It's not very surprising that the New York Times' Alessandra Stanley would shoehorn Obama worship into the opening paragraph of a story on Sesame Street's fortieth anniversary, but still sort of fun to document anyway. Here we go:

It is almost too perfect that the first African-American president of the United States was elected in time for the 40th anniversary of "Sesame Street." The world is finally beginning to look the way that the PBS show always made it out to be.

I must have missed the giant talking birds, cantankerous garbage can dwellers, and cookie monsters walking the streets in the aftermath of Election 2008 and almost too perfect?! That's a pretty wishy washy assessment, no? What is this lady, an angry tea bagger?! 

But don't worry she still finds nits to pick with the show's sometimes regressive politics:

The pedagogy hasn’t changed, but the look and tone of “Sesame Street” has evolved. Forty years on, this is your mother’s “Sesame Street,” only better dressed and gentrified: Sesame Street by way of Park Slope. The opening is no longer a realistic rendition of an urban skyline but an animated, candy-colored chalk drawing of a preschool Arcadia, with flowers and butterflies and stars. The famous set, brownstones and garbage bins, has lost the messy graffiti and gritty smudges of city life over the years. Now there are green spaces, tofu and yoga.

It’s still a messianic show, but the mission has shifted to the more immediate concerns of pediatricians and progressive parents, especially when it comes to childhood obesity. “Sesame Street” takes the Muppets, rhymes and visual verve that were developed to instill tolerance, racial pride and equality, to preach exercise and healthy eating.

***

It is an urban myth that Cookie Monster was turned into Veggie Monster to appease nutrition Nazis, however — that was a blogosphere rumor in the Paul-Is-Dead school of whispering campaigns. But Cookie Monster’s palate was refined during Season 36 as part of the show’s “healthy habits for life” campaign. He now also gobbles fruits and vegetables, which are labeled by the show as “anytime” foods while cookies are held in reserve as “sometime” food. And almost every episode has a subliminal message about exercise and nutrition, along with a fruit bowl.

I think the key terms here were pedagogy, gentrified, green spaces, racial pride, Veggie Monster, palate was refined during Season 36, Paul is Dead--what? seriously?!--sometime food, and subliminal...fruit bowl. Did I miss anything? Keep burning that revolution fire New York Times!

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