One Sesame Street animated clip I’d like to recover is “Why Should I”.
There’s a hipster in a beret standing in a white expanse of nothing. Someone walks up to him and politely whispers in his ear. He replies ostentatiously: “Why should I?” The person shrugs and walks off.
A second person comes up to him and whispers. Again he says “Why should I?” Again the person shrugs and walks off. A third person comes up to him and the same thing happens.
Then there’s a silent beat, and the hipster is run over from behind by a slow-moving psychedelic carnival.
My mom told me that the original idea behind Sesame Street was to make a show that parents would watch with their children. That’s why they had all the cameos of stars that meant nothing to the kids. I always wondered when that idea of the show went away, because Elmo is god awful and the show is virtually unwatchable now.
Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but I love the vibe of the old shows so much. There’s something so “real” about them compared to the shows that are on today; I think because there is really a sense of parents and adults present, not just for the kids but as themselves. Or maybe just because Jim Henson was a beautiful person and no one else has ever been able to bring the charm to it that he did.
@chairthrower They have classic Sesame Street out on Amazon prime.
Man i remember as a kid in the 90’s i used to watch this really weird show early in the morning on the Disney channel. I don’t think it was a Disney produced show but maybe it was. It was live action and seemed to be some sort of Charades type of game between parents and their kid, seemed to be from the 60’s or 70’s and i remember the backgrounds being fairly simple, colorful and modern artsy. Terrible show, kind of boring, but i’ve wondered over the years what the hell it was about.
P.S: And maybe in the show they did more than just the Charades thing, but i think it was part of the stuff they did together. And i’m not sure it was a competition type of program.
I don’t know how it is today, but the clip is a reminder that Sesame Street used to be consciously geared towards inclusiveness for lower-income urban kids. The wall has cracks and peeling paint, there’s someone living in your garbage can, minorities are represented as more than occasional tokens. I imagine this was somewhat radical for children’s television in 1970. It certainly reflected my childhood milieu better than all that white picket fence suburban stuff.
My mother, who had me watching Sesame Street as soon as I could sit up, tells me some people objected to different colored puppets living and playing alongside each other in harmony. The fact that people of different ethnic groups lived in the same neighborhood must have caused some heads to explode.
Maybe some had a point, though. I wonder if Sesame Street didn’t help give middle class white kids living in the suburbs like me a sense of complacency. Then again I had enough real life experiences with racism. Sesame Street at least offered the possibility of a better world even if it didn’t have any insight for getting there.
Or maybe just because Jim Henson was a beautiful person and no one else has ever been able to bring the charm to it that he did.
I think that’s a big part of it. He always had his own vision and wasn’t crippled by the fear of not fitting a mold or failing. He just went for it. Just bringing puppetry at the forefront of mainstream media, for adults no less, is an amazing and unlikely feat; and it hasn’t happened again to the same level since.
By the standard of kids’ shows, another one that I still hugely appreciate as an adult is Fraggle Rock. It has many poignant, sometimes downright dramatic moments not usually seen in young children shows: When the Fraggles are convinced that Mokey was killed by the Gorg, when Red and Boober are trapped by a rock fall and are slowly running out of air, when Wembley’s creature friend dies… I hugely enjoyed the series as a child and it did not ‘traumatize’ me. I could tell that the stories were earnest and important. I think that’s another thing that came from Henson: He had respect for children’s inner lives and intelligence.
I haven’t (yet) seen it on the web but there was, indeed, such a show. There’s a bit of info on Wikipedia. I used to watch it before we moved to New York – I remember writing them a letter and they sent me a nice post card in response.
Jim Henson’s stated goal with Fraggle Rock was to achieve world peace. That’s amazing to me. He started with that goal and then conceived of a show built around the concept of symbiotic, interconnected societies that don’t realize how much they need each other. Beneath all the silly songs there’s one of the best-written kids’ shows ever put on air. Listening to Red and Boober meaningfully discussing their possible death was profound for me as a kid, but that’s very different from being ‘traumatized’.
Not me, but it kinda alternates between 12/8 and 13/8. But that assumes that that first “Wow!” isn’t on the one, because if it is, you’d start with 14/8, then 12/8 (while they’re counting the numbers–“eleven-twelve” in the lyrics coincides with “nine-ten” of the beat count), then 13/8, and then 12/8 again for the next counting sequence.
Kinda tough to parse, but remarkably organic to sing along with. This was my single favorite funk tune when I was a wee kid.