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March 11th, 2009 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal

A little while ago I was listening to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and they did their ‘Not my job’ feature using the book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street which I immediately decided to buy and start reading. This was unusual for me, because I usually read fiction and rarely get all the way through a non-fiction book.

I decided to pick this book up right away because I love Sesame Street, I love the Muppets and I love Jim Henson. I grew up watching Sesame Street, loving Grover monster and Oscar the Grouch, I remember learning so many new things from that show – all the Spanish I know I learned from those Muppets and Maria and Luis. I believe that the origin of my sense of humour rest partly with my genetics (if you met my father, you’d see) and partly with the Muppets – Ernie in particular.

My husband and I even included the line “I will be the Bert to your Ernie, the Ernie to your Bert” in our vows, and we’ve bickered over which of us is which (I tend to be the Bert, except when I make bad jokes).

I am now a little over halfway through the book, through the development stages of the show and into the first few seasons where things I remember where put into place.

Feeling nostalgic and home sick I decided to watch Sesame Street this morning, and I didn’t like what I saw. Things certainly have changed.

First off, as part of a rant I have ranted before, I don’t understand why the world has decided that just because we are capable of computer animation we should use it for everything animated. I like the look of cell animation, I like animation that looks like animation and isn’t trying to look like the real people.

Secondly, I, like many of my generation, hate Elmo. I hate him. He bothers me for no specific reason, but mostly because he took over Grover’s spot on the show, and I love Grover. I don’t understand why Elmo is suddenly the star of Sesame Street with his own segments to end every show. There was never a star before.

Thirdly, I came to the character of Abby Cadabra. I had heard of her before, but saw her for the first time today. I have no issue with her as a character, in fact, it took me a while to figure out why I didn’t like her, but then it dawned on me: When I was growing up, Sesame Street was a magical place but there was no real magic. Life on Sesame Street was perfectly normal, there were monsters and talking animals, but everything seemed normal, but suddenly with Abby Cadabra, who is a fairy in training, there is real magic, which seems somewhere outside the normal that I lived when I was a kid. It takes it away from the real life and into the fantasy – which sounds ridiculous when you’re talking about a street where giants birds and cute little furry monsters live – but that was what it felt like to me.

ETA: The husband points out one reason I might prefer the wonderful Grover to the little red tickle-monster. Grover always took great pride in his diction, whereas Elmo speaks like a small child. Grover could teach little kids to speak properly and precisely, Elmo can’t.

Good point Joe.

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