Monday, December 25, 2017

Sesame Street Versus Donald J. Trump?

Even though the show has been largely “politically agnostic” since it first aired back in 1969, did Sesame Street managed to got itself to be the focus of U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s ire? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Even though he never “Tweeted” it out loud, many people believe that Donald J. Trump has a long-standing beef with Sesame Street way before he became – albeit not via popular vote – the president of the United States. Under the Trump Administration’s budget that was published back in May 2017, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be one of many nonprofit corporations across the United States that would lose funding despite that it makes up only a tiny portion of the annual federal spending. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting provides funding to thousands of radio and television stations in the United States, but is best known for its ties to both PBS and NPR. 

And some – mostly Sesame Street viewers who had been watching the show for at least since the early to mid 1970s – believe that President Trump’s disdain for public broadcasting stems from an old grudge against Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster. Sesame Street viewers could trace it back when a character named Ronald Grump which was parodying the then real-estate mogul Donald J. Trump in the 1980s.
Ronald Grump’s first appearance on Sesame Street came in 1988 when he convinced Oscar the Grouch to replace his spot on the street with a building called “Grump Tower”. In exchange, Oscar got a free room in the tower and three bags of trash even though his friend tried to talk him out of the rotten deal. Oscar and Grump eventually got into an argument over pets being allowed in the “duplex can-dominium”, which almost cost Oscar 40 bags of trash – or as he put it, his entire “trash savings” – to get out of the deal. 

Ronald Grump’s second appearance came in 1994 when Sesame Street celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Played by famed actor Joe Pesci, Grump announced his plans to destroy Sesame Street to build a high-rise “Grump Tower.” Following a lot of hostility – Grump said Sesame Street will be a luxurious boutique called “If You Have To Ask, You Cannot Afford It” – Grump’s plans ended up falling through the cracks due to Oscar’s can being government property. 

When Ronald Grump made his final appearance in 2005 for the episode “Grouch Apprentice”, he was back to puppet form. In search of a helper to sort through all of his trash, several muppets auditioned to be his assistant by going through a series of contests. Grump ended up firing one of them (one being called Omagrossa, which was clearly based on The Apprentice star turned Trump political aide Omarosa Manigault) and hiring two of them, Oscar and Grundgetta, because they were the most incompetent. Sadly, give Sesame Street’s apolitical nature, Ronald Grump won’t be returning anytime soon to parody President Trump. Grump just got on Sesame Street as a bad example of greediness in a values lesson episode. And the top brass of the Children’s Television Workshop were probably very thankful that Ronald Grump wasn’t grabbing any pussy on the set of Sesame Street during his final appearance back in 2005.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Should Sesame Street Do A Donald J. Trump Episode?

Famed for doing difficult issue episodes tailored for children to understand, should Sesame Street do another difficult issue episode explaining the election of Trump to the White House? 

By: Ringo Bones 

For over forty years, Sesame Street has made Emmy-worthy episode on difficult issues tailored for young children to understand. Most notable are the episodes explaining gay marriage and the deployment of those with family members who are in the military to Afghanistan in Iraq during the post 9/11 period of the George W. Bush administration. But this time around, should the creative team at the Children’s Television Workshop do an episode explaining to kids the election of the “unsavory” billionaire and reality show proprietor Donald J. Trump to the White House? 

Folks who grew up during the past forty years or so are probably taught in school that being the president of the United States is a special job that only those qualified should be chosen to do so are probably now scratching their heads on why a bully, sexist and paedophile billionaire like Donald J. Trump got elected to the White House. Undoubtedly, many children are, now too, asking their parents to what tantamount to be the existential question on “why good things happen to very bad people?”

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Was Sesame Street’s Mr. Hooper Jewish?

The answer is he – the Sesame Street character – definitely was, but the better question to ask would be: “when did you found out that Mr. Hooper is Jewish?  

By: Ringo Bones 

Of all the human casts of the iconic children’s educational TV series, those who were there since the show first aired back in 1969 would probably cite Mr. Hooper as the most fascinating. The most probable reason is, is that the “powers-that-be” at the Children’s Television Workshop allowed his character to slowly evolve and reveal since he first appeared in 1969. Kids who were closely following Sesame Street since 1969 to about the mid 1970s would probably notice that Mr. Hooper – like the Children’s Television Workshop advisor Gerald S. Lesser made him out to be – as someone who is “slightly mean and abrasive but with a poorly hidden nice streak”. This was largely due to Big Bird’s inability to say storekeeper Mr. Hooper’s name properly. 

Even though it was only around the mid 1970s until towards the end of the 1980s that Sesame Street was gradually building up for world wide recognition, these were by no means politically stable times when it comes to television viewing when compared to the first decade of the 21st Century. Most viewers in the Philippines despite lucky enough to view that Big Bird Went To China special just a week after it aired in the United States, most Sesame Street fans here didn’t manage to watch aspects of Mr. Hooper’s life on Sesame Street well until 1991 onwards via VHS and Betamax tapes. 

That Sesame Street special where it was explained with honesty to kids that Mr. Hooper had passed away that won a daytime Emmy only became general knowledge here in the Philippines at about the same time when a post Operation Desert Storm euphoria was sweeping around the globe back in 1991. On Mr. Hooper being Jewish – probably around 1993 and it wasn’t until 1994 that I saw that official CTW book “Christmas Eve On Sesame Street” being displayed in our neighborhood’s second hand book store that I managed to read first hand that Mr. Hooper is Jewish and celebrated Chanukah. By the way, the official Children’s Television Workshop book was based on the 1978 special Christmas Eve On Sesame Street were Mr. Hooper’s was revealed to be Jewish. But in actuality, Mr. Hooper’s performer – the actor Will Lee who passed away back in 1982 of a heart attack – isn’t Jewish. 

When It comes to Mr. Hooper’s full name, it wasn’t until the advent of Web 2.0 that I saw that episode where Mr. Hooper got his GED certificate from attending night school that his full name was revealed as Harold Hooper. Maybe we should be thankful of the modern internet for without it, most obscure Sesame Street trivia will remain a mystery to most of us.   

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Was Oscar The Grouch Originally Orange?

Even though many younger generations of kids know him for being green (yellow-green?) colored, did you know that Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch was originally orange in color? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Many television trivia themed books sold during the past 40 years has probably made it well known that Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch was originally orange in color – as in during the first season of the iconic children’s educational TV show during its first airing back in 1969. But Oscar the Grouch’s transformation from orange to yellow-greenish for four decades now may be just part of the story. 

When I first saw Sesame Street during the early 1970s as a very impressionable toddler, color TVs in my neighborhood might as well have been a science fiction plot since most households in my neighborhood can’t afford a color TV set – even the “cheap” Made in Japan models. But something weird happened, when the powers-that-be at the Children’s Television Workshop decided to transform Oscar the Grouch from (probably puke) orange to yellow-greenish, every kid in my neighborhood noticed that Oscar the Grouch became “less dirty looking” even though we are watching the show in our black and white TV sets. Did my fellow toddlers back then noticed a different shade of gray of Oscar the Grouch? 

Based on these observations, will the powers-that-be ever try to make Oscar the Grouch orange colored again? Given today’s advanced OLED based video display screens touted to be capable of displaying colors that 1970s era Sony Trinitron color cathode ray tubes often misses to replicate, reminding today’s kids on how Oscar the Grouch used to look during the first season of Sesame Street might prove to be a ratings bonanza to the beloved children’s educational show. Unless of course Madison Avenue image consultants will just dismiss the idea as a cynical marketing ploy.    

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Were Sesame Street Songs Used In Bush Era Extraordinary Renditions?

As the premier educational “English language” ambassador to the Islamic world for a few decades now has Sesame Street’s reputation been tarnished by its use in torturing 9/11 era terror suspects and detainees?

By: Ringo Bones

Since it started back in 1969 – the educational children’s TV show Sesame Street by the Children’s Television Workshop has more or less served as the “ad hoc” educational English language ambassador for America and the rest of the Western world to the Islamic world, but will the newly uncovered evidence that Sesame Street songs that were primarily composed to teach children from non-English speaking countries to master its everyday use had been used to torture 9/11-era terror suspects in the Bush administration’s “extraordinary renditions” program primarily in Guantanamo Bay prison interrogation of “terror suspects” tarnish the reputation of this much beloved children’s education program? And if did, can it ever claim it back again?

The Al Jazeera film “Songs of War” which was released a few years ago alleges that Sesame Street songs were used on 9/11 era terror suspect detainees The Guantanamo Bay terror suspect inmates were “tortured” by being forced to listen to songs from Sesame Street at uncomfortably high volumes for days on end. Christopher Cerf, who has worked as a composer on Sesame Street for more than four decades first said upon hearing the allegations that: “My first reaction was that this just can’t possibly be true”. The Grammy and Emmy award winning composer said.

The Al Jazeera produced documentary’s claims are backed up by a 2008 Associated Press report which found that several songs, including the Sesame Street opening theme song, were used as part of the Bush administration era 9/11 terror suspect detainee interrogation process at the US detention facility back in 2003. Christopher Cerf and other composers working for the Children’s Television Workshop were utterly appalled upon hearing this. Will the Islamic world now see Sesame Street as a “tool of American imperialism”?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Mitt Romney Versus Big Bird: Education Versus Demagoguery?

 Even tough US Republican Party presidential hopeful Mitt Romney won the first round of the 2012 US Presidential Debates so far, should he have antagonized Sesame Street’s Big Bird?

By: Ringo Bones

Since 2010, the TEA Party movement has been attacking every American taxpayer funded education and arts programs that don’t cater to their draconian and literal interpretation of White Anglo Saxon Evangelical Christianity. Eager to capitalize on the “conservative American vote, US Republican Party presidential hopeful Mitt Romney quickly seized the moment to denigrate the public money used to fund PBS. Sadly, Romney's rather harsh "political smack-down" on the most beloved of all children's  educational characters had most baby boomers and generation Xers wondering if Mitt Romney is nothing more than a demagogue mouthpiece of the right-wing ultra-conservative branch of the US Republican Party. But is his decision to antagonize Sesame Street’s Big Bird just a bit over the top?

Mitt Romney got the obligatory political flack during the past few weeks after that notorious hidden camera footage of him denigrating the 47% of America as “freeloaders” who are too dependent on US government handouts in his own private fundraiser ceremony went viral on the internet. Already in trouble for being a “rich aloof” and uncaring towards the poor, this is something Mitt Romney doesn’t need so close to November’s elections. But should the Republican presidential hopeful pick a fight on Big Bird too? Would Romney use his Mormon faith to justify the "Children of Ham" reasoning and logic - thus making racism the next step? 

To American voters aged 60 and younger, Sesame Street’s Big Bird is seen as an revered and venerable educator and an entertainer that had been with them during the tumultuous years of their childhood. Given the recent unrest in the Muslim world over that notorious anti-Islam film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, it seems like the US Republican Party presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is trying to incite a riot among America’s late baby-boomers and generation X-ers. Given that the long time residents of Sesame Street - especially Big Bird - are already not amused, will this political gaffe eventually hurts his prospects for the 2012 US Presidency?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Should Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie Be Married?

Given the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State, should Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie - given they are both New York state residents - get married?

By: Ringo Bones

Thanks to the recent legalization of same sex marriage in the New York state, there has been a petition demanding that New York states' most famous - though fictitious - gay couple named Bert and Ernie get married. Even though there's totally nothing wrong with it and the two had been living together - even taking baths together - for the past 40 years, is there any reason that Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie should not get into a same-sex union?

According to Sesame Street's creators in the Children's Television Workshop, Bert and Ernie are just close friends and the two are - according to the "overlords" at the Children's Television Workshop - are not or never had been gay. Given that creative people have the right to their own intellectual properties, it haven't prevented most of America - and the rest of the world - to conclude that Bert and Ernie are a bona fide gay couple. If Children's Television Workshop bows to social pressure, then maybe it could be used as a ploy to launch a Lunachincks reunion tour on Sesame Street during the festivities of Bert and Ernie's same-sex nuptials.