It was with some trepidation that I read this article on the DVD release of old school Sesame Street, though not without fascination either.  The changing tides of pop culture is what I academically cut my teeth on.  (Be warned, it’s from the NYT Magazine and therefore contains more than your RDA of snooty sardonicism.)

What really gets to me is that CTW has seen the need to slap a warning on the set, a warning that you shouldn’t show it to your wee ones.  Virginia Heffernan explains in her article that it shows things that, today, just ain’t right.  Some examples she gives I can go along with, like talking to strangers, but others just seem to be conjecture, like Cookie Monster seeming like an addict, and the Street being far, far more dingy.

But she also reveals something poignant, which is that Sesame Street was looking to meet an unmet need for inner city wee ones; can we say that the show even remotely targets them now?  And that maybe we coddle the heck out of our kids today (cookies ARE a sometimes food, but does that mean we can’t enjoy eating them?  heck, what happened to the balance of Captain Vegetable?!).

I’m somewhat mixed on this, really, because I came in with a smaller sea change; before the CGI and the like, but after the original period, when Mr. Hooper was going to retire, Snuffy had just become real, and Maria and Luis finally tied the knot.  This was a world where you could do stop-motion animation with cookies and it was amazing.  Was it a better time, overall?  No, definitely not.

But I daresay it was a better time for Sesame Street than today.  This was before they had to compete, before I want that yesterday, planned activities, and instant gratification became de rigeur for three-year-olds; when diversity meant respecting and being interested in other people.

It sure as heck wasn’t perfect.  But at least it wasn’t business as usual for kids’ TV.

At least it wasn’t boring.

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