Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street?

Since I was born in 1968 I am just a few years too young to be considered a Baby Boomer. Demographers have referred to my generation as Baby Busters (because of the plummeting birthrate between 1961 and 1981), Generation 13 (because we are considered reactive, nomadic, and somewhat mercenary), and Generation X (because demographers have an utter lack of creativity in naming groups and they view us somewhat suspiciously). We far exceed the education levels of our predecessors and yet ours heads of household have less individual earning power than their fathers did at the same age, thus demonstrating a massive shift in historical trends. We came of age after Vietnam and grew up during times of relative peace for our nation. However, our memories of historical events begin with things like Watergate, include the recession of the 70's and the shift away from nuclear families to huge growth in single parent families and a generation of latchkey kids who were instructed to hide inside the house until a parent got home. Our coming of age occurred during the unchecked greed of the 80s. We recall the Iran-Contra affair and raising our own young children during times when the US President was getting blow jobs in the Oval Office and his incompetent successor was massively expanding the powers of the Executive Branch while stomping around the Middle East for no good reason. Then the demographers label us a bunch of cynics and slap a few derogatory names on us. Pfft.

I beg to differ and I suggest an alternate title on this 40th anniversary of the show my generation grew up with, the Sesame Street Generation. All you Boomers can go ahead and laugh at us if you want but I think it highlights something more positive and hopeful. It's a show that broke the mold in the way it respected kids for who they were and didn't talk down to them. It gave them credit for being able know the difference between right and wrong (Yes, we understood that Cookie Monster had terrible table manners and that a diet entirely of cookies was not a good idea. We also understood that he was a made up character [How many of us know living breathing creatures covered in blue fur and with eyes that spin? Seriously now, folks.] and made up characters get to break the minor rules kids dream of breaking and still be ok. That's one of the beauties of imagination. I respectfully suggest that today's producers of the show aren't giving kids enough respect by turning Cookie Monster into a vegetarian. Ok, this parenthetical has taken on a life of its own now...). It celebrated imagination. It showed us the fun in playing with language too and let us laugh at mistakes. We knew mistakes weren't the end of the world.

Sesame Street presented a multicultural neighborhood where everyone got along and people looked out for each other. It showed us different personalities finding a way to have enduring friendships. It showed country kids the fun in the city. It showed city kids the fun in the country. It treated our sadness gently when Mr. Hooper died and showed us it was ok to cry but that there is still happiness to be found. (Ok, let me also ask my peers who among you felt a little gut punch when Jim Henson left this world at too young an age?) It also celebrated silliness and was just plain fun. And who didn't love seeing the famous people goofing around with muppets who sometimes got the better of them.

It gave us an example of something to aspire to in terms of unity and community. Laughing and singing together, learning new ways from each other, and giving each other support in sadness are great ways to build community if you ask me. We certainly preferred enjoying the show a second time around by sitting down to share it and a few giggles with our own kids rather than having to process certain news events with them. So demographers might prefer to highlight our more negative traits and influences but I'd rather hang on to the more positive influences and the things we once hoped for which now seem more commonplace.

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!











34 comments:

Jazz said...

You're joking right? They didn't REALLY turn Cookie Monster into a vegetarian.

Tell me they didn't...

S said...

Hurray!!!!
I love Sesame Street
I have the cutest t shirt from India which has the "Sesame Street" street sign on it, in HINDI of course.
I cant wear it though, because Mr Ratburn bought it for me and it's sooo teeny! LOL

Now, I moved to California in 1969 from alaska and although I was already 8 years old, I fell in love with Sesame Street and have watched in ALL MY LIFE. Maybe I owe them more for my education then I realize. :P
We didnt have tv in alaska save for a couple of local broadcasts so coming to California and watching stuff like Sesame Street, Electric Company, Gumby, etc was a blast for all of us.

This is my favorite Ses. Vintage Vid....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWrUykkc-bs

And always remember....
You gotta put down the duckie
if you wanna play the saxaphone!

S said...

Put it down!
Put down that duckie...
Sharing the celebration today, thanks for the blog inspiration!

Word veri:
TRUNI

oh man, that has to be a typo, it's soooo close, trini!

G-Man said...

This was waaaay after me!
I had Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room (With Miss Ardis)

G-Man said...

Susie-Q in a teeny T-Shirt?

....Never mind.

Desmond Jones said...

It's occurring to me that you are the age of my youngest brothers (born in '67 and '70); and they most definitely filled our house with The Street when they were little. And of course, my own kids saw their share of it, as well.

I love the 'imaginative' world in which Snuffleuppagus can only be seen by certain folks. . .

I'm with G-man. . . Captain Kangaroo, and Romper Room ("Do Be a Do-Bee; Don't Be a Dont-Bee"), Mister Rogers, Shari Lewis and Lambchop (Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody were even before my time, hard as that may be to believe). . . Does anybody besides me remember Soupy Sales?

And as usual, I'll have to wait and catch the vids at home tonight. . .

misticblu said...

Ditto! But you left off the best video "manah manah". remember?

Craver Vii said...

Great memories. I should show my kids some of these classic clips!

DianeCA said...

I agree with you! Let's be the Sesame Street Generation!! I loved Sesame Street as did my own kids. And it was the only so called educational program that I actually learned anything from. I learned to sing my alphabet, and people over here in Europe don't seem to understand that I learned some Spanish from living in the US and especially from Sesame Street. I like the way they treated the Spanish American population with respect and interest. Thanks for reminding us!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

we used to love COUNT dracula!!! so funny....

Suldog said...

Happy Birthday, indeed! But, if they made Cookie Monster a vegetarian, here's a message for the producers:

This comment is brought to you by the letters "F" and "Y"! You know what they stand for!

Suldog said...

To Desmond: I certainly remember Soupy! Loved him.

lime said...

jazz, sadly they've made him a proponent of healthy eating. he now reminds kids that cookies are only a "sometimes food" pfft.

s, i love the all star version of put down the duckie! also a fan on the honker duckie dinger jamboree

gman, i rmemeber those too. i just liked sesame st better

desomdn, i remember soupy. was sad to hear of his recent death.

misticblu, yes, that one's a classic. my brother and i drove our mother insane singing that over and over.

craver, enjoy!!

diane, oh yeah, i learned how to count to 10 in spanish and a bunch of words and greetings from maria and luis. and do you remember the peliiiiigro bit?

fff, that's 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. TEN fantastic comments. AH AH AH AH!!!

suldog, i couldn't have said it better myself. as i said, he's nto a strict vegetarian but he's all about healthy food now. it ain't right i tell ya.

Logophile said...

I will gladly be a member of the Sesame St Gen, but 40 years of SS makes that a pretty big generation!
:p

secret agent woman said...

Depending on the source, The baby boomer go up to 1960 or al the way up to 1965. (I know what wikipedia says, but it's not a source I fully trust.) I was born in 1962, and don't think of myself as a Gen Xer, but since I come from a huge family, it's hard for me to pinpoint which shows I watched because I was a kid, and which because I was taking care of the younegr kids. So I was influenced by Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo but also by Sesame Street. Good lessons in all of them.

lime said...

logo, granted. i don't mean for all 40 years worth of viewers to be considered the sesame st generation.

secret agent, yeah, wikipedia is not exactly an authoritative source but by all other sources i've looked at '68 puts me under boomer age. as for mr. rogers and captain kangaroo i loved them both as well.

Jenn said...

My very favorite reason for watching both Sesame Street and the Muppet Show when I was a kid was because every single puppet had a perpetual smile. OK, except for Statler & Waldorf but even those grumpy old men laughed during every episode (and Oscar the grouch even had a sly little smile).

S.S. taught me not only what photosynthesis was but how to spell it before I even hit kindergarten and it encouraged learning in a safe & embracing environment where love was the name of the game. I do believe those of us who grew up on the show are far more well rounded, educated and accepting people who can't help but smile most of the time. Great post! So happy to have found your blog through Suldog!

Craver Vii said...

They used to have the coolest guests. Remember John Denver's visits? Now who's this that appeared? I know him from somewhere...

Kat said...

Ladybug picnic!!!! Oh how I miss that.

I love me some Sesame Street. And I think they did so much for our country. Seriously. They showed us that people are all the same. Regardless of our race, creed, country, gender, or disability. I LOVE that show. :)

Cocotte said...

I watched more Capt. Kangaroo, Electric Co., and Zoom, but hey, I was known to watch a little Bert & Ernie at age 13!

Jim Henson was an amazing person. His genius has captured my middle child's attention and held it for 17 years!

RennyBA's Terella said...

Okay, Happy Birthday then - what more can I say as an old man with children loving Sesame Street :-)

Malicious Intent said...

Seasame street rocked!
And yes I remember when Mr. Hooper died, and yes I cried. And yes it was ok to show us kids real life.

I remember when Jim Henson died, and yes it was a blow to the stomach. An artist and creative person myself I love the freedom such an individual shows the world. It's ok to be different...it's ok to be green.:)

I was born in 1969 and remember on those days when I was home sick from school and my parents had to be at work...there was Seasame Street to keep you company. An old friend that was like comfort food. I know I watched it long beyond the years I should have...but I just loved seeing what those nut jobs at Henson's studios would come up with next!

Thanks...nice clips. Sorry been absent....lots going on.

(M)ary said...

Grover the Waiter is hilarious! He must be wearing doc martins or something because he makes a lot noise walking in and out of the kitchen.

Desmond Jones said...

I remember that AB-CDEF-GHI song, and taught it to my kids.

And at my university, we've been known to console each other with 'It Isn't Easy Being Green'. . .

lime said...

jenn, glad to have you here, welcome! ah, the muppet show, another fantastic henson creation:)

craver, that picture is truly disturbing! but yes, the guest stars were always so much fun

kat, ah, the lady bug picnic.....just so many fun little snippets to choose from.

cocotte, i loved EC and zoom too :)

renny, you are FAR from being an old man. get back to me on that in 30 yrs and we'll talk

mi, so nice to see you again. i hope some of these sweeter memories have given you a few moments rest from the most recent stresses in life.

mary, i always loved the way grover drove the customer out of his mind and yeah, definitely not OSHA approved non-slip footwear.

desmond, oh dear....you're one of them are you? ;)

elle dubya said...

i wish there were more real person kid shows out there now and less cartoons... ahhhh the good ol' days.

gaelikaa said...

yes, I loved Sesame Street too. It was shown in Ireland when it was current!

Mark Leslie said...

How beautifully remembered and stated! I'm delighted to be part of the Sesame Street generation.

And visiting your blog is much like visiting the fabled street -- lots of different people hang out here, everyone is respected, there's always lots of fun, laughs and learning, and you don't make fun of me when I make mistakes.

lime said...

elle, i definitely agree but that seems to have gone the way of the dodo

gaellikaa, oh that's very cool to know!

mark, well shucks, you've got me blushing now. that is some high praise, my friend. thank you.

Cheesy said...

G is for Grover!!!!


Nearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
Farrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Jocelyn said...

This is a great idea and perfectly captures our generation, indeed. I will never stop loving those fuzzy characters.

Beach Bum said...

Grover was always my favorite.

Lolly said...

My son got a Cookie Monster cake on his 2nd birthday!

Moosekahl said...

Don't forget the "six soccer socks" song :)