“Sunnny days, sweepin the – clouds away…on my way to where the air is sweeeet…can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street…” Okay, how many of you can remember this song? If you do know this song, you probably grew up somewhere between 1969 and today. I remember the early 70s of my childhood, the sweet, tantalizing tune romancing my ears and turning my mind into a whirling dervish of childhood anticipation and glee. I remember singing along with Ernie and Kermit, laughing at Big Bird’s silliness and wishing I was in that neighborhood where there was never any rain and everybody got along regardless of age, race or gender. Ahhh memories…and you can re-live those memories with a release of Sesame Street “Old School” Volumes 1 and 2 on DVD. There is a dire warning on this box set, however, admonishing us to not share these episodes with our own children…HUH?
Yes boys and girls, the powers that be have determined the first seasons of Sesame Street are deemed not suitable to “…today’s pre-school child…”. Why is this, you may ask. Well it goes like this…see back in the day, kids rode bicycles without helmets and enough padding to cushion them from a 10 story fall. Cookie Monster back then gobbled up everything in sight…cookies, milk, a pipe…(remember Alistair Cookie and Monsterpiece Theater?), Big Bird must have been taking hallucinogens because he was the only one who could see Snuffleupagus and Oscar the Grouch was…well…grouchy. Remember Gordon, kids? Remember Gordon and Sally? Sally was a little girl who was lost and Gordon was a kindly man who took Sally around Sesame Street and introduced her to all the characters and then took her to his apartment to meet his wife and…gasp…have milk and cookies! Kids played in fields where 2x4’s, huge pipes and such formed a makeshift obstacle course for the kids to play on and use their imaginations.
On today’s Sesame Street we have the sinister, saccharine sweetness of the red idiot monster, Elmo…Elmo didn’t exist back then, much less have a stranglehold on children’s minds. Yep, in today’s world we have parents who go to extremes (extremes being an understatement) to protect their kids from EVERYTHING. Everything has a warning somewhere on it (Warning- Explicit Lyrics) (Warning – Not Suitable for Children) we have TV ratings now that tell a parent in excruciating detail what shows are proper for their kids…TV-Y TV-14, TV-MA, etc. etc. We now have the movie rating PG-13 because a simple PG is not always enough warning. Nowadays a parent can be put in jail for not making their child wear a helmet or letting them sit in the front seat without a car seat or seatbelt. Sesame Street nowadays doesn’t teach kids how to read, count, reason, get along with other kids…nope, now we have to teach them a social conscience. Why is that?
Could it be because today’s parents are so busy with their own lives they can’t take the time to teach their kids right from wrong, left from right, fantasy from reality? Or maybe today’s parents, who were completely indulged by their own parents, are indulging their kids in unprecedented ways? If you don’t think so, go see the show “My Super Sweet Sixteen” or pick up a copy of Time Magazine’s last Person of the Year issue, the cover features a mirror of sorts because the Person of the Year is, well, YOU! Never before have I seen a society so self-involved, so self-indulging, and so spoiled. COME ON, do you really think your six year old needs a cell phone? Do we really need to give a trophy to every single kid, win or lose? In the words of the snooty maitre d’ in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”…”I weep for the future…”