“There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” –Elizabeth Lawrence

I heard something mildly unsettling today. Elmo, the lovable, three and a half year old red Muppet on “Sesame Street”, has gone green to promote environmental causes. That’s right: ELMO IS GREEN.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself:http://video.aol.com/video-detail/nbc-today-show-nbc-today-show-elmo-goes-green/359878220

See? I told you. Not only is Elmo green, he also uses words like “verklempt” and “lovey-dovey”. Meredith Viera told him to get a room. Which leads me to my latest question: Why are they messing with my childhood?

I had an excellent childhood. I watched lots of “Sesame Street” and Disney movies, I had lemonade stands, I went to bed at 8pm, my family took vacations together every year, I visited my grandparents, I took art classes with my friends. It was a wonderful 10 or so years. Most of my friends would probably say the same.

But now, everything has to be politically correct, even for children. I understand the reasoning for this, but I wonder: Do subliminal messages in children’s television really work? Am I a more tolerant person because I was exposed to different lifestyles and people on “Sesame Street”? Did you know that Cookie Monster no longer eats cookies? Now, instead of “C is for Cookie” he sings “Cookies are a sometimes food” and eats fruits and vegetables. Did I think cookies were an always food simply because I watched “Sesame Street”? I believe in psychology, but I wish things could just stay the same.

And here we go-once again, Susannah doesn’t like change. It’s true, I confess that I don’t. Once I find something that works for me, I like it to keep going. I find a brand of flip-flops that I like-I buy two pairs. Same with sunglasses, t-shirts, toothpaste, bottled water, gum. I’m open to new options, but as long as I can always go back to what I had before. It’s a flaw, I know, but I like feeling settled. And I was settled in my “Elmo is red, Cookie Monster eats chocolate chip cookies, Bert and Ernie are just good friends, Big Bird is like everybody’s uncle, and Grover is the coolest” mindset. But now, two of those have changed. I wouldn’t be surprised if Bert and Ernie became more than good friends, just so kids could be exposed to that sort of thing.

Maybe it’s because I’m older, but there seems to be a lot more “issues” on Sesame Street than when I was a kid. Queen Latifah appeared to talk about military families and coping with change. Paul Rudd was Mr. Earth, who convinced Elmo that the earth was worth saving. Were these topics always present on “Sesame Street” and I just missed them because I thought that Grover was the best thing ever? “Sesame Street” was conceived as a show to promote literacy. I suppose they still do have all the counting with the Count and the reading with Big Bird, and the how-to video I remember from my watching years, the making of crayons (I found that video on YouTube today-that was my favorite.)

So, because tomorrow is the beginning of Spring Break, I have spent a considerable amount of time today watching “Sesame Street” videos on YouTube.  Did you know that Liam Neeson, one of my favorite voices ever, was on “Sesame Street”? He counted to twenty. Kim Cattrall defined the word fabulous. Joe Torre, Kofi Annan, C-3PO, Nathan Lane, Sandra Oh, Michael Jackson and Sarah Jessica Parker have all guest starred on “Sesame Street”. And here’s Robin Williams, playing with a stick.

“Sesame Street” has been on TV for 39 seasons, making it the longest running children’s program on American TV. And for good reason: it’s a sweet, wonderful, heartfelt show. It has 109+ Emmys to prove it. But I can’t help but wonder: What was wrong with it that they had to change it? Why can’t they introduce new characters to be green-you know, like KERMIT? He has a whole song about how it’s not easy, so why can’t he teach children about environmental issues? Why can’t one of the new characters teach Cookie Monster about fruits, rather than changing his complete history? Basically, why is PBS screwing with my childhood memories? My children are going to have a completely different view of “Sesame Street” than I do and did, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. If you’re going to change everything, why not suddenly make Oscar love recycling?

Oscar the Grouch-I Love Trash

Childhood still has a lot of the same elements, I’m sure, and I’m glad “Sesame Street” is still around. It’s clearly an original, what with the Muppets, and the mop space aliens and the sand people as letters. All childhood memories are precious, and if change is what keeps Big Bird and Grover and Elmo around for my children to enjoy, then bring it on. As long as my kids can play where the air is sweet, everything’s a-ok.

Reliving the sunny days,

S.

P.S. For an added touch of nostalgia: “Elmo’s Song”.

While I was watching, I couldn’t help but wonder: is Snuffleupagus still on “Sesame Street”? Because I remember really liking him. His name was one of the biggest words I had ever heard.

“I grew up on the street. Not the hood. Sesame Street”. -J.D., “Scrubs”

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2 thoughts on ““There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again.” –Elizabeth Lawrence

  1. :((( Your timing was very good with this, I must say. I am quite bored. But this is horrible I must say. Isn’t there already a green one? That girl? She’s green, right? They should’ve had her do it. Green. Ppsh.

  2. Ouch, I feel like part of my childhood has been ripped away too. I think it’s more about marketing, but really, why do they need to change Elmo? Next thing you know Big Birdie is going to be changed into a penguin as part of a “lifestyle choice” LOL.

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