Look, I wasn’t in China all that long. Just a couple of weeks. And while I’m away, all hell breaks loose! WTF?
I’m speaking, of course, of the recent antics of beloved Sesame Street all-stars Elmo and Bert, both of whom have been in the news for not exactly PBS-approved behavior. Let’s tackle Elmo first. According to the New York Daily News, the furry favorite of preschoolers everywhere showed up in Times Square recently, smelly and foul-tempered:
“Five dollars! Five dollars!” the dirty impostor shouted as he swiped at a tourist’s camera with his dirty red paw. “No five dollars, no picture of Elmo.”
“It’s a free country. Don’t touch me,” said Amanda Kelly-Knox, 36, as she angrily steered her baby stroller away.
“Ok, give Elmo two dollars. Two dollars for Elmo picture,” the character unsuccessfully counteroffered to the fleeing mom.
While the identity of the man behind the horrific mask remains unknown, I suspect one Mr. Kevin Clash, driven to drink and desperation by the realization that, in giving squeaky voice to the reddish monster, he has, well, created a monster, ruining parents lives for generations.
Identity was at the heart of the news billowing around Bert, too. This is all based on a Tweet that Bert twote back in June, in reference to the new “A Team” movie:
Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo,’ a little less ‘hawk.’
Get it? Right? “Mo” as in ‘mo, as in homosexual? Ye gods! I’m all for famous people coming out, but I feel somehow disappointed in this one (even if Sesame Workshop denies it). The tension that Bert’s ambiguity created was, simply, entertaining. Adults and precocious children alike could argue for hours over the signs that Ernie’s “roommate” was gay—or not. In so doing, they developed the close-reading skills that would serve them well on the way to Comp Lit Ph.D. programs, though not so well once they finished their dissertations, realized there were no jobs, and wound up waiting tables. Or writing ad copy. Or, worse, dadblogging.