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Monday, December 3, 2007

Sesame Street: "Adults Only" and Not for Children

An Australian newspaper reports that classic episodes of Sesame Street on DVD are now labeled "adult only" because they are not suiting the needs of today's generation of preschool children. The Cookie Monster is viewed as vile and rotten for his promotion of bad habits (like devouring cookies) that may encourage obesity in young children. Alistair Cookie is "smoking a pipe" and "eats" it (horrors!). And the klutzy Mr. Snuffleupagus epitomizes delusional behavior. Oh, and let's not forget that Oscar the Grouch is terrible for children because of his "blatant bad manners and questionable [physical] hygiene."

Here's an excerpt of the piece in question:

The 'tut-tut' police keep us on the street and narrow

Melissa Kent
December 2, 2007

SESAME Street is now brought to you by the letter P and the letter C — for political correctness, that is.

The fun police have slapped an "adults only" warning on a new DVD of classic episodes, which featured a world in which children played in the street, a monster gorged on cookies and a bad-tempered puppet lived in a bin.

The episodes, made between 1969 and 1974, have been released in the US with the caution: "These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grown-ups and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child."

Topping the list of furry villains is the Cookie Monster, whose penchant for devouring cookies and the odd plate or two is no longer deemed appropriate behaviour for modern children.

His alter ego, Alistair Cookie, host of MonsterPiece Theatre, "modelled the wrong behaviour" by smoking a pipe and eating it, according to Sesame Street producer Carol-Lynn Parente.

Back then, Big Bird's bumbling friend Mr Snuffleupagus was still imaginary, which might encourage "delusion behaviour". And trash-loving Oscar the Grouch has been targetted for his blatant bad manners and questionable hygiene.

"We might not be able to create a character like Oscar today," Parente told The New York Times.

Like the whitewashing of Enid Blyton books, the move has sparked howls of protest and charges of political correctness sucking the fun out of childhood.

Children's book author Andy Griffiths, creator of the popular "Bum" series, said children loved dark, mischievous characters such as those who lived on Sesame Street.

"Kids love seeing their primal desires acted out in the form of things like gluttony or violence, and literature or TV is a place they can safely experience these desires," he said.

"I think it's an entirely healthy and appropriate thing for a children's TV program to be doing."