The Radical Inclusiveness and Multi-Culturalism of Sesame Street
Republicans have long had a bee in their collective bonnet about funding public radio and television, even as it relates to Sesame Street. Heck, especially where it relates to Sesame Street. Who can forget when Mitt Romney said he would put down Big Bird “like a fucking dog” in front of his own children if it meant saving the American people even a single dollar? He really did not do himself any favors with undecided voters with comments like that.
George W. Bush proposed zero funding for public broadcasting. So has Donald Trump, who nevertheless had the tenacity to nevertheless request that Sesame Street send characters to his doomed White House Easter egg hunt. In a deliciously passive-aggressive gesture, Sesame Street acquiesced by sending Scabby, an ex-con puppet with a hacking cough, open sores and an unfortunate predilection for talking about his decades as a meth addict in front of small children.
It’s easy to see why Conservatives hate funding Sesame Street. They hate public broadcasting as a concept. Why on earth would you need the government to fund important or non-commercial artwork when the free market system has given us five live-action Transformers movies (in addition to the forthcoming spin-off Bumblebee) and no less than eight Fast and the Furious cinematic thrill rides, with plenty more on the way? Check and mate. You can keep your Mapplethorpe nudes, public art funding freaks. I’ve got Adam Sandler, whose contributions to American culture are funded by Netflix as a public service, not a commie free money pool.
But Conservatives hate funding Sesame Street for other reasons as well. It’s obviously an enormous, enduring commercial as well as creative success that has generated, over the decades, billions in merchandising from toys and videos and diapers and live shows and pretty much everything else under the sun.
Conservatives also hate Sesame Street for ideological reasons. The venerable children’s television institution is ferociously dedicated to multiculturalism, to the idea that the world is a great, big, beautiful place and that we make everyone’s lives better when we treat our global neighbors as friends and allies that we can learn from instead of enemies who hate us for our freedom and greatness and would destroy us if given half a chance.
The friends of Sesame Street are forever learning about other cultures and celebrating the holidays and customs of other nations. They learn about Yoga and Karate. Chamki, Big Bird’s Indian pen-pal comes to visit Sesame Street. Lily the Chinese tiger drops by, as does South African Muppet Zuzu. The South African Sesame Street features an HIV-positive Muppet. I can only imagine how well that would go over with Mike Pence types here in the States.
Big Bird has a Chinese cousin named Da Niao who looks exactly like him. Oscar has an Israeli cousin named Moishe Oofnik, who beat-boxes with Matisyahu in a clip that illustrates the future Liberals want and are aggressively working towards.
Part of that is a matter of synergy. Sesame Street is in over 150 countries and has spawned all manner of international co-productions throughout the world that has brought the magic of Sesame Street to countries desperately in need of children’s television designed to teach important moral lessons and the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic rather than sell toys or commercials for sugar water.
Multiculturalism is threaded into the fabric of Sesame Street. It loudly and proudly espouses the virtues of sharing, of cooperation, of loving your fellow man and being both a good neighbor and a good citizen of the world.
Patriotism is not celebrated on Sesame Street, nor is free market capitalism. The show celebrates sharing and cooperation and respecting and loving and looking out for your fellow man, which once upon a time were known as good Christian values but in the age of Trump look more like Communism.
Sesame Street has taken aim at Donald Trump through the years through the character of Ronald Grump, a Grouch who shares a personality and unfortunate hairstyle with the scam university proprietor and current President of the United States. Sesame Street is the antithesis of Donald Trump, which is just one more reason to love it.
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