As reported the the NY Times today, two volumes of old “Sesame Street” episodes recently released on DVD come with the following helpful warning label: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”
There are definitely old cartoons that I would not show to kids today. Some of the early Warner Brothers cartoons, for example, come off as highly racist to today’s eyes. But early-1970’s Sesame Street? How could they possibly offend current sensibilities?
Well, first off, there’s the Cookie Monster. An unrepentant cookie addict:
he can be seen in the old-school episodes in his former inglorious incarnation: a blue, googly-eyed cookievore with a signature gobble (“om nom nom nom”).
And then there’s Oscar the Grouch, who can’t seem to see the bright side of anything:
On the first episode, Oscar seems irredeemably miserable — hypersensitive, sarcastic, misanthropic.
And worst of all, the setting: a somewhat run-down city street:
The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating.
People on “Sesame Street” had limited possibilities and fixed identities, and (the best part) you weren’t expected to change much. The harshness of existence was a given, and no one was proposing that numbers and letters would lead you “out” of your inner city to Elysian suburbs. Instead, “Sesame Street” suggested that learning might merely make our days more bearable, more interesting, funnier. It encouraged us, above all, to be nice to our neighbors and to cultivate the safer pleasures that take the edge off — taking baths, eating cookies, reading.
Nope, definitely can’t have kids seeing that.