Turns out, in today’s politically correct times, that old-time Sesame Street episodes are considered to be really damaging to pre-schoolers.

I can’t tell you how many times my mom parked me in front of that show. And I watched a lot of those old episodes. So I’m glad that, despite the exposure, I didn’t turn out to be an axe murderer.

Some things didn’t seem right back then – like that poor guy who must have hurt himself terribly after falling down concrete stairs after announcing that he was holding 11 Coconut Cream Pies, and while I sort of liked Bert and Ernie (Ernie way more than Bert), I wondered why they never showed their mom. Big Bird was annoying, Mr. Hooper was nice, Oscar said some funny things and Grover got seriously injured all the time.

But it did some good things too – people in their real lives had to deal with Oscars and this illustrated that you should try to help them, but you also shouldn’t let them ruin your day. I knew some Spanish words, and I could read before I started kindergarten; my mom credited Sesame Street for that.

Granted, there have been pedagogical improvements since then, and some of the old stuff must be hopelessly dated, but now I like Sesame Street much less – even our little one tired of it long before she was four. (Actually she was pretty much done with it by three and she positively couldn’t stand Elmo. Towards the end of her Sesame Street viewing days when Elmo’s World started, she would leap for the remote.)

Nowadays there is just less “there” there. The amount of Spanish is much less. The phonics stuff is pretty much gone. I thought they used to do some addition and subtraction and that is non-existent in modern episodes. Anything that would develop deductive reasoning is gone. It is, well, pretty tame and boring.

And Elmo bugs the crap out of me too. His segment is just grating and content-free.

So my take is that today’s version is not really any better than the worst of yesteryear. Some of the sanitization may be a good thing, but the removal of much of the meaningful content is a greater sin.

Even with all of the sanitization, I’m certain years from now they’ll be talking about how insensitive they were in portraying the obviously sub-normal Mr. Noodle.

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