No More Sunny Days: How Sesame Street Fucking Ruined My Life
Since its debut in 1969, Sesame Street has become a highly recognizable and well-loved children's show, perhaps the greatest of all-time. Its mix of education, entertainment, and lovable Muppet characters have helped countless generations of preschoolers get a headstart in the learning process. Over the years, the show has spawned many classic songs, received boatloads of awards and praise, and shown the world that sometimes it's fun to stick a banana in your ear. But there is a dark side to Sesame Street. Some educators have criticized the show's format, saying that it breeds short attention spans by quickly jumping from one subject to another and that it doesn't provide any substantial educational content besides counting and the alphabet. I have a different complaint, however, one that is far more serious: Sesame Street, at times, is really fucking creepy. Holistically, Sesame Street is not a bad show. It's probably not as educational as it could be, but if it was, kids probably wouldn't enjoy it as much as they do. But every once in a while, a Sesame Street clip comes along that makes you wonder what the hell the producers were smoking when they decided to include it in the show. There have been some truly bizarre sequences on Sesame Street, sequences which should never have been shown to young impressionable minds. I am going to take a look at several of these clips, clips which have undoubtedly done extensive psychological damage to me.
The Count vs. Maria's Toes
When I was kid, Count von Count was always one of my favorite Sesame Street characters. You see, it was The Count who taught me to embrace my eccentricities instead of trying to conform to society's standards of normalcy. Whereas most people would try to hide a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder in order to be accepted by their peers, The Count gave no fucks about such things. No, The Count would count anything, anywhere, no matter how many people he was pissing off or how inappropriate the situation was; when the beloved Mr. Hooper died, he counted Big Bird's tears. Okay, so that never happened, but The Count did count plenty of other things over the years: bats, sheep, snowflakes, cookies, apples, inner demons. But the weirdest thing that Sesame Street's friendly neighborhood vampire ever enumerated was Maria's toes. One day, The Count asks Maria take off her socks and shoes, which she does without question. Then he begins molesting her toes under the guise of counting of them, an experience which Maria refers to as "fun". Maybe it's just me, but that seems really sketchy. Hey kids, it's fun to remove articles of clothing and let people touch you! Yeah, about that... NO. Also, if you have a foot fetish, this clip could be a major clue as to why.
Count To Ten With Nobody
What do you get when you take a creepy face made out of elastics, an eerily calm Morgan Freemanesque voice, and every cheesy CGI effect that the mid-70s had to offer? You get "Count To Ten With Nobody", that's what. This clip was designed as a simple counting exercise, but somewhere along the way it turned into something more... something HORRIBLE. This whole thing plays out like a drug trip, and not one of those pleasant drug trips where you're able to rearrange the clouds to your liking. No, this one of "holy fucking shit, there's fucking bugs coming out of my fucking skin" kind of drug trips that haunts you for the rest of your life. Sometimes you go for several years without thinking about it, but then one night as you drift into REM sleep, it suddenly comes rushing back: that creepy voice, that awful face, that chilling music... Oh wait, I'm thinking of that time I almost got raped at church. But Nobody was scary too.
Do De Rubber Duck
If you ever watched Sesame Street, you know that Ernie fucking loves his rubber ducky. Over the years, Ernie has parlayed his love of his bathtime toy into not one, but two popular songs, "Rubber Ducky" and "Put Down The Ducky (If You Wanna Play The Saxophone)". What some people may not remember or even know that is Ernie also had a pair of far less popular songs about his little yellow friend. First, There was "Sorry Rubber Ducky (That I Shoved You Up My Ass)", a woeful tale of rectal exploration gone awry. Try as I might, I have been unable to find that clip. As a result, I'm going to talk about an equally disturbing song called "Do De Rubber Duck" instead. Despite what the song's name might imply, "Do De Rubber Duck" is not about bestiality... oh, how I wish it were that mundane. No, this song is Ernie's dreadful attempt at reggae, hence the oh-so-clever use of de in the song's title instead of the. Ernie does not have a particularly good voice for reggae, and when you combine that with bad lyrics and a pedestrian beat, the end result is one of the least memorable songs ever to grace public television. But that's not what makes this clip disturbing. No, this clip is disturbing because as Ernie sits in his bathtub singing about his goddam duck, he is suddenly joined by many of the more popular male puppets from the show including Oscar The Grouch, Guy Smiley, Elmo, Telly, Kermit The Frog, Hoots The Owl, and The Count. Bert, who is often cited as Ernie's secret gay lover, is noticeably absent from the scene. So you have a bunch of male puppets naked in a tub, singing and having fun, like it's the most natural thing in the world. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's a dangerous and irresponsible message to be sending to children. I'm also pretty sure that Sesame Street is written and produced by homosexual pedophiles.
That Goddam Orange
Every so often, Sesame Street would offer up segments designed to expand our cultural horizons, which is a polite way of saying they were trying to turn us queer. Rarely, if ever, did these clips accomplish their goals. For example, I vividly recall a series of songs featuring jazz legend Cab Calloway, who had since become a decrepit old man. As I watched in horror as the 73-year-old Calloway hit sour notes and shuffled around the stage in what I would later learn was a sad attempt at his trademark dance moves. It was at that moment in time, at the tender age of four years old, that I first began to harbor my undying hatred of jazz music. But perhaps even more disturbing was the stop-motion clip where an orange springs to life and sings "Habanera" from Bizet's classic opera Carmen. OK, that's not entirely true, the orange doesn't just suddenly spring to life. No, it starts off by rolling around, attaching common kitchen items to itself in order to become more human - a walnut for a nose, an elastic for a mouth, flower petals for eyelashes, a feather duster for hair, and bottle caps for earrings. Oh, and a set of googly eyes, because normal people always have those lying around their kitchen for no apparent reason. Stop-motion animation has an inherent creepiness to it, and that creepiness increases exponentially when it's used to make fruit come alive and sing in foreign languages, especially when no further explanation is ever given. Instead we are left to wonder why someone would ever make something like this, how it ended up on Sesame Street despite lacking any educational or entertainment value, and why it got such heavy rotation on the show.
If Moon Was Cookie
One of the great illusions of childhood is that Sesame Street is a real place and the Muppets are really alive. You get thrown in front of the TV before you can even talk and you see the Muppets interacting with real people in what appear to be real settings, so by the time you're able to actually understand what's going, you just sort of assume that Muppets are real living things. Unlike other childhood illusions such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, this one doesn't require the active participation of others to sustain itself; it is completely internalized. And when you have a strong internal belief that the Muppets are real, their actions are not without consequence. For example, seeing Ernie mercilessly rip Bert's nose off his face and laugh about it can be quite traumatic to someone who doesn't understand the characters aren't real. Or how about this... Let's say you're a preschooler with a distinct fear of the dark. Let's say you're watching Sesame Street, just like you do every weekday. OK, now let's say you see Cookie Monster EAT THE FUCKING MOON. That could fuck you up pretty bad, especially if it happened to be cloudy out for the next couple nights. That's what happened to me.
In retrospect, it was a stupid fucking thing to get upset about, but so are most childhood fears. Such fears are usually greatly irrational and stem from gross misinterpretations of the surrounding world brought on by an incomplete understanding of it; the wind blows through your drafty attic and you presume it to be a ghost. As you get older and you're exposed to disciplines such as science and critical thinking, you learn that your attic isn't paranormal, it's poorly sealed. That, or you stayed mired in ignorance and you end up watching the "reality" show Ghost Hunters. When I watch this clip now, I can't help but laugh at the fact that such an innocuous clip caused me such great distress.
A Day At The Beach
In my discussion of that bizarre singing orange, I said that stop-motion animation was inherently creepy. I stand by that remark. There's something about it that seems unnatural. This is especially true of BAD stop-motion animation. The less frames of animation that are used, the freakier it looks. One clip that I always found especially unsettling involved a rather odd looking girl lurching her way through a beach until she found a collection of seashells. She'd pick up the shells one by one, find them in her picture book, say their names out loud, then watch as the pictures danced. That last part always troubled me, because, uh, PICTURES IN BOOKS DON'T FUCKING MOVE ON THEIR OWN. After the girl has successfully gone through all the shells she's found, she turns to the book's final page and sees a whale. Suddenly a real whale appears and carries her out to sea, much to her dismay. When I was little child, this clip upset me very much. I felt bad for the girl who had been carried out to sea and I was secretly afraid that something similar might happen to me. God, I was retarded.
Bert and Ernie Explore A Pyramid
Bert and Ernie have starred together in many classic Sesame Street clips and most of them are fucking hilarious. Who can forget the time that Ernie tricked Bert into saying he ate a sandbox, or the time that Bert was going to give his nephew Brad a bath but then Ernie put so many toys in the tub that there was no room left for the poor little tyke? One Bert and Ernie skit that has really stuck with me over the years was the one where the duo explore a pyramid. This is another one of those segments that really used to freak me out as a kid. Bert is excited to be exploring a tomb while the normally unflappable Ernie is scared shitless because he thinks the pyramid is spooky. I was always a huge Ernie fan, and the fact that he was displaying a very uncharacteristic trait had me worried. Thus, Ernie's fear became my fear, and when Ernie's fear turned out to be justified, I completely freaked out. Ernie was so afraid of the pyramid, that he refused to explore it with Bert. Instead, he waits in the entry room which is guarded by a pair of statues that look suspiciously like our orange and yellow heroes. As Ernie paces around the room trying to keep his wits about him, he is suddenly assaulted by his statue counterpart. He screams, Bert comes rushing back, and the statue stops moving. Bert doesn't see the statue move so he derides Ernie for wasting his time and goes back to exploring. That just upset me more, the fact that Bert didn't believe Ernie. The situation plays out again, only this time the statue talks. Bert comes back again, mocks Ernie some more, tells him it's just his imagination, and leaves. At this point, Ernie is still scared and he's starting to think Bert is right and he's just imagining things. To calm himself down, he starts singing his favorite song, "Rubber Ducky"; the statue starts singing it too. Ernie is surprised by this development, but he's no longer scared, so two of them sing the song together and do a little dance. Ernie excitedly calls Bert back, but once again, the statue has stopped. At this point, Bert decides that pyramid isn't a healthy environment for Ernie and the two of them leave. As they leave, Ernie bids his new friend farewell. Bert says goodbye to the statue as well, but only so he can tease Ernie one final time. When the statue actually returns the pleasantry, you can bet that Bert runs the fuck outta there. I'm really not quite sure why this clip freaked me, especially since it ends with Ernie overcoming his fear. I guess the idea of a living statue just didn't sit well with me, especially since I had seen Unico In The Island Of Magic.
The Monster In The Mirror
Before that bastard Elmo usurped his throne, Grover was the most lovable monster on Sesame Street. Whether he was trying to save the day as quasi-heroic Super Grover or pissing off that generic blue guy with his comically inept waitering skills, Grover was the man. Sadly, unlike many of his puppet peers, Grover was not featured in many songs. Not only that but "The Monster In The Mirror", his most famous song, has lyrics that are sure to pique the interest of Chris Hansen from Dateline: To Catch A Predator. The final variant of the song's chorus goes like this:
Wubba wubba wubba wubba woo woo woo
Wubba wubba wubba and a doodly do
Wubba wubba wubba, you can join in too
Wubba wubba wubba wubba wubba wubba
Yes, if you wubba me then I will wubba you
If you wubba me then I will wubba you
Wrong. Kids, if someone wubbas you in your special area, DO NOT wubba them back. When someone wubs you or even tries to wub you, TELL YOUR PARENTS IMMEDIATELY. And if it's a parent who's doing it, tell another adult you can trust like a teacher or a police officer. Actually, wait. Kids, if a parent is coming into your room and night wubbing you, the first thing you should to is try and blackmail them into getting something really cool that you want like a new bicycle or a Nintendo Wii. Then, regardless of whether or not the parent yields to your demands, tell an adult you can trust that you're being sexually abused. You might think it's a little mean to make your stepdad buy you a Nintendo Wii and then tattle on him, but it's not. When someone wubba wubbas away your innocence, there is no price you can make them pay that will ever even things out, so you might as well take as much as you can. Personally, I am absolutely horrified that Sesame Street would include such a vile line in a song. Meanwhile, a song called "I Want A Monster To Be My Friend" was pulled from Sesame Street in 1984 when a parent complained that it had some very predator-friendly lyrics:
If I make friends with a friendly monster
I'll let him bounce me on his knee
I'll let him do whatever he wants ta
Especially if he's bigger than me
At this point, I'd like to put forward the theory that Sesame Street is and always has been the product of a secret pedophile conspiracy, one started by Jim Henson himself. Think about it, no one would dare accuse a lovable hippie like Henson of abusing children, especially since he's dead. But I know better. While he was busy earning America's trust with his amazing puppetry skills, he was also busy priming America's children for sexual exploitation by embedding suggestive messages in seemingly harmless Sesame Street segments. He generally tried to be subtle, but every so often he flew a little too close to the child-molesting sun, like he did with "I Want A Monster To Be My Friend". With "The Monster In The Mirror", Henson's underlings took a nonsense word that sounded vaguely sexual and used it subliminally subvert child towards their illicit desires. This time, if anyone tried accuse them of writing predator-friendly lyrics, they had the immediate excuse that wubba wasn't a real word and it was clearly just meant to be silly. But it wasn't. After the success of the original of the video clip, a second version was made with a bunch of celebrities edited in. These people aren't *just* celebrities, however: they are the highest ranking members of the Super Secret Muppet Pedophile Conspiracy. Most of the members of the SSMPC who appear in the video are not that surprising, such as Jeff Goldblum, Robin Williams, Kid 'n Play, Bo Diddley, Gene Siskel, Roger Ebert, Whoopi Goldberg, Glenn Close, and that guy who played Dwayne Wayne on A Different World. There were a few surprises in the SSMPC though, most notably Candice Bergen and Ray Charles. I mean, the guy was blind... you'd think he would have had that "a hole is a hole" attitude.
I think we've learned an important lesson today, that lesson being Sesame Street isn't all harmless fun and educational games. In the dark forgotten corners of Sesame Street there are nightmarish stop-motion animations, poorly conceived songs, and other assorted dumbness best left unmentioned. It's the type of stuff that can permanently fuck you up, the type of stuff that will leave you with elaborate paranoid delusions involving Jim Henson and his loyal army of celebrity child molesters. Dear readers, if you ever have children, don't ever let them watch Sesame Street. Now if you'll excuse me, I feel the sudden need to purchase five dozen copies of The Catcher In The Rye.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
IF YOU WUBBA ME, THEN I WILL WUBBA YOU!