Monday, November 24, 2008

Snuffleupagus Becoming Real: Anti-Child Molestation Measure?

At the start, it was only Big Bird who can see his elephantine pal / imaginary friend, but was later retooled so that everyone at Sesame Street can see him. Is this an example of an anti-child molestation measure?

By: Vanessa Uy

For those who were there when the show was still an untested pilot back in July of 1969, Sesame Street, a TV series aimed at kids that combines entertainment with education was seen by most as pioneering. During the first regular season of Sesame Street, probably way before Elmo was even born. Young audiences were fascinated, delighted, and even perplexed every time Big Bird’s “imaginary friend” the elephantine character Snuffleupagus – first appeared in a November 8, 1971 episode - came to visit him while everyone at Sesame Street fail to notice or even see Big Bird’s pal. Even the grown-up human characters don’t believe that Big Bird’s elephantine friend is real. Because of this, the friendship between Big Bird and Snuffleupagus flourished under a climate of secrecy, which within the confines of an idyll utopia like Sesame Street seems innocent enough.

Sadly, in the real world of you and me, child molesters actively cultivate a climate of secrecy between themselves and their potential victims. This bond of secrecy is probably most child molester’s only means of an “exit strategy” to make and allow them to commit their crimes on a regular basis. The writing staff and focus groups at the Children’s Television Workshop probably took note of this and took the measure to make Big Bird and the company he keeps more transparent.

The move was mostly due to a rash of high-profile – sometimes graphic - child molestation / sex abuse / paedophilia cases being aired on prominent and respected news shows such as 60 Minutes and 20/20 throughout the 1970’s on through the early 1980’s. This burning issue probably reached it’s climax when a much publicized “alleged” sexual abuse scandal at a Bronx daycare center resulted in the airing of a documentary titled: “Sesame Street Unpaved”. Given that the “fictitious idyll” that we call Sesame Street is probably only a comfortable walking distance away from the urbane egalitarianism of the Bronx, Big Bird’s imaginary friend Snuffleupagus was retooled under relentless social and political pressure. Because of this, Mr. Snuffleupagus finally made his “official” debut on Sesame Street in November 18, 1985.

Aloysius Snuffleupagus – his full name – is more commonly known on Sesame Street as Mr. Snuffleupagus or “Snuffy” as he is called by those who had grown attached to him resembles a wooly mammoth without any tusks. Although the absolute correct spelling of Big Bird's elephantine friend is still subject to dispute, some variations of his name includes: Snufflupugus, Snuffleluffagus among others. My older acquaintances that were regular viewers of Sesame Street back in the 1970’s used to believe – when they were little kids of course – that corned beef came from Mr. Snufflupugus’ fur which does resemble corned beef.

In my opinion, Mr. Snufflupugus is probably the closest thing Sesame Street has of ever having a “Rock Star” or a political activist that supports an unpopular cause as a resident. Because of this, Sesame Street has indeed been supporting one of its core missions since the beginning by supporting the cause of an egalitarian ideal regardless of nationality, color or creed. They even incorporated Spanish lessons since the 1970’s.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Heads up, Sesame Street just turned 40 this November 2009. With the First Lady Michelle Obama as their guest star during their 40th Anniversary episode, I just hope that Sesame Street still has more years left not just in educating kids about the magic of the English language, but of the wonders of socio-cultural diversity as well.