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October 4, 2015

Is Elmo killing Sesame Street?

by Adam Finley, posted Aug 16th 2006 10:57AM

elmoI really need to read Joel Stein more often because the man is quite an entertaining read. In his latest column he takes a few shots at Elmo, which may seem like the equivalent of a grown man kicking a preschooler in the face, and it is, but he does seem to have a legitimate beef with the little red Muppet. Now, I usually dismiss tirades against Elmo as uniformed, because most of them accuse him of being somewhat low in IQ compared to the other Muppets on Sesame Street. The thing is, Elmo's character was evolved from a background character in such a way as to give him the mentality of a preschool age or younger child, someone the toddlers could relate to while their older siblings enjoyed other aspects of the show. Stein sees that as a real problem, however. To him, and to Wonder Showzen creators Vernon Chatman and John Lee, who he also quotes in his column, Elmo is a solipsistic creature infinitely infatuated with himself. As Stein puts it, "We are breeding a nation of Anna Nicole Smiths." Being 29 with no kids, I don't follow Sesame Street that closely anymore, but like a rock band that's way past its prime, it sounds like the show's glory days are way behind it now.

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We have a toddler at home, and have recently watched Sesame Street (after not having seen it for many years). Sesame Street is a mere shadow of what it once was. Elmo dominates the show (on the street), and the final 20 minutes or so of the show consist of "Elmo's World," an irritating show within a show in which Elmo learns about various subjects while interacting with the perverted looking Mr. Noodle.

The show has been dumbed down significantly. If you don't believe that, watch "Sesame Street: Old School Volume 1," which includes highlights of the first five seasons. Compare this to today's version.

October 28 2006 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sesame Street was originally created for children between the toddler and kindergarden ages to give them a headstart on reading. Since then it has changed to focus more on toddlers. Elmo was created to be like a toddler, giving this segment of the audience some one to "relate to" (which is appparently important).

That being said, Elmo serves the role poorly. His grating voice, patronizing baby talk and phony exuberance are more reminiscent of a certain purple dinosaur than the wonderful creations of Jim Henson in the early years. Elmo is not a figure for children to "relate to," he is a parody of childhood, aimed at an audience too young to know it is being mocked.

October 17 2006 at 10:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i LOVE elmo and iam 12 almost 13!!!!ppl who hate or despise elmo r a B****!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

August 30 2006 at 10:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kids love Elmo.

My 1 year old son only responds to Elmo, the other Sesame Street characters do not move him in the least. Nor do ANY OTHER TV show characters only ELMO which is common with Infants (whom Elmo was created for)

To me Elmo has value & he makes my son happy.

Joel Stein has wrote that "Children are idiots" which I cannot disagree with MORE. Joel Stein is an idiot

Babies, infants & children are instinctively smart & learn or absorb information far better & faster than older minds with established habits.

Just because Wonder Showzen creators Vernon Chatman and John Lee have a show on MTV doesn't make any of the three (Joel Stein, Vernon Chatman or John Lee) an authority on what is good or positive for developing minds (or anything else)...we should not get ANY direction from them. When did having a show on MTV make anyone an authority on anything? Talk about less than credible.

Joel is lucky that the LATimes.com doesn't allow for talk back or feed back from readers or I would have abused him there as well, he is a tool.

Why the attack on Elmo an innocent character that kids love? Many other Sesame Street characters are FAR MORE ANNOYING like Baby Bear, Telly, Harry, Prairie etc.....

Stein also wrote that Elmo has too much air time, Elmo's World comes 40 minutes into each Sesame Street episode....his article is mired with fabrications, distortions etc.

Sesame Street is for children not hack reporters with nothing else to write about or on their minds....get a life Joel Stein

Lastly, Elmo is a good source of information for children, we own 4 or 5 Elmo's World DVD's like "Food, Water & Exercise", "Babies, Dogs & More", "Dancing, Music & Books" & "Head to Toe with Elmo", these are really good sources of information that kids enjoy & learn from...why in the world would someone attack that? With all the mindless programming why would someone attack something credible? Kids watch & mimic these lessons which help them develop good habits with ZERO NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT

Joel Stein get a life & leave my kids shows alone.

August 18 2006 at 3:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I lurve Joel Stein. I despise Elmo. I can't even pinpoint why but he simply does not even compare to the REAL muppets Kermit, Grover, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and others from back in the 70's. What I wouldn't give to have PBS rerun the classics. I appreciate that young kids today like him, its all they know. What a pity.

August 17 2006 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I worked at the Sesame theme park, and I have to say Elmo is the worst.

Grover was great, he always put himself out and helped others, and was hilarious.

August 16 2006 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

my daughter is three now, but when she was around 18 months she recognized one thing (other than her family) and that was Elmo. SHE LOVED HIM!! and could sing the Elmo's World theme song from beginning to end. She is now not so interested in Elmo - she's moved on to Dora, but toddlers love the muppet.

and kudos on using the word "solipsistic".

Children of that age are the center of their universe - it's all they know - they haven't realized that the world does not revolve around them - and how could Elmo not emulate that when 18 month olds are his target audience?

August 16 2006 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Will Pfeifer

My 13-month-old daughter (who spent her first nine months in China with, I'm assuming, no contact with Elmo) can't get emough of the guy. She likes the rest of Sesame Street OK, but really goes nuts when Elmo's World starts. He's not as funny as the rest of the gang to my 39-year-old mind, but since she likes him, I figure he's all right. Besides, when he says "It's Mr. Noodles' brother, Mr. Noodles," that's pretty funny.

August 16 2006 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All I know is that my 9 month old daughter won't even look at the TV, until Elmo comes on. We watch TV and she pays attention to her toys, as soon as Elmo comes on, she is glued to that guy. She loves him and it entertains her, so leave the entertaining to Elmo. I don't rely on Sesame Street to teach her, that should fall into the hands of the parents.

August 16 2006 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

HATE, HATE, HATE Elmo! When they began airing that insipid Elmo's World a few years ago, that's when Sesame Street went down the tube. That theme song -- "Elmo loves his crayons, his goldfish, too". What? No parents? Friends? Forget Anna Nicole -- the damage is far worse.

August 16 2006 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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