Thursday, December 03, 2009

Can you tell me how to get...

Imagine this. 1966. You're at a dinner party, someone comes up to you and a few others, and asks you to find ways to, "master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them". Two years of research and funding, you develop the Children's Television Workshop. A year later, after settling upon a name they like the least, Sesame Street airs on November 10th, 1969.

Author Malcolm Gladwell has said,
"Sesame Street was built around a single, breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them."
Believe it or not, boys and girls. There was a time, and there were people in this time, whose primary focus was the betterment of our children.

Sesame Street was a blur for me as a kid, but I do recall key moments. Not necessarily of the show, but moments that impacted me. The death of Mr. Hooper was one. As a kid, I understood the difference between reality and fantasy. So it didn't make sense that they would kill off someone on Sesame Street. But when I learned (don't ask me how) that the actor Will Lee actually died, and that they killed of the character of Mr. Hooper as well in the show to teach kids about death. I got my first lesson of art imitating life.

And that was one of the brilliant aspects about Sesame Street. There willingness to push the envelope, not just in learning, but teaching. Teaching kids about death, about siblings and how being the older one you're more responsible, learning about interesting jobs (there's a part of me that still wants to drive a bus!!!), and learning about the world around us. Not many shows can claim the impact that Sesame Street has had/has, and not any can claim they have done so with Muppets.

Besides The Muppet Show, of course.

Forty years later, what can be said? The show is going on strong. This year they'll be focusing on nature, and Cookie Monster has gotten over the whole "he doesn't eat cookies, anymore" controversy. And I couldn't be more ecstatic that I can still show my children a place on television where learning hasn't been dumbed down to colossally retarded levels, and that the show can be brought to them by the letters F and U.

So, may we still have sunny days, may we continue to keep sweepin' the clouds away. May kids continue to be wowed, wondered, and welcomed on the way to where the air is sweet.

Please folks, tell them and others how to get to Sesame Street.

No google mapping it! Lazy bastards.

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