Saturday, January 26

Every Door Will Open Wide To Happy People Like You

I'm sure you've heard by now about the disclaimer that runs before Sesame School's "Old School" DVDs, which contain episodes from 1969-1974. The AP reports:

"The first DVD begins a disclaimer announcing, 'These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not meet the needs of today's pre-school child.'"

Of course this has lead to three inevitable and totally predictable responses:

1. "Oh my god, those sanctimommies are so over-protective they can't even let their kids watch Sesame Street!" (I'll admit that this was my response at first.)

2. "Those liberals at PBS have declared my childhood politically incorrect!"

3. [The totally predictable hurf-durfery made by lazy bloggers: Cookie Monster is a junkie, Bert and Ernie are gay, et fucking cetera.]

But last week I was watching NBC Nightly News, hoping to hear new announcer Michael Douglas (no, seriously), and they ran a story about the disclaimer. Actually seeing what the fuss was about, I was surprised by a few things:

First, I had thought that the disclaimer was just text on the screen. But it's actually read out loud by a cartoon character reading a prepared statement behind a podium. What's really interesting is that his delivery was stilted and slow, as though forced at gunpoint to read the disclaimer. Huh!

Second, though initially the troublesome scenes were harmless in the extreme--kids reading bikes without a helmet!--soon the clips they showed were so inappropriate and unsafe that it was like a skit from an unfunny sketch show:

-A group of children are playing in a junkyard. One of them discovers a rusty set of box springs and begins bouncing on it like a trampoline.

-Another group of children are playing on a construction site. One of them discovers a sewage pipe leading under the road. "Let's see what's on the other side," he says.

-A young girl is on her knees with her hands in her lap. Her mouth is open. A farmer squeezes a cow's teet, squirting milk on her face and in her mouth.

-A young girl wanders onto Sesame Street. Gordon (wearing a suh-weet three-piece suit) introduces himself. He takes her by the hand and leads her into his house, where he gives her ice cream.

-At the beginning of a Monsterpiece Theater skit, Cookie Monster is seen smoking a pipe. He then eats the pipe.

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