Oscar the Grouch is criticized for his mood swings. Bert and Ernie’s sexual orientation has often been questioned. Elmo is accused of teaching poor grammar, partly because he refers to himself in the third person. In some cases, the show responds to pundits by appeasing them. Cookie Monster’s diet expanded to include vegetables in 2005 because of criticism as well as the rise in childhood obesity. Katy Perry’s filmed segment with Elmo never aired because of objections over her scant clothing. Remarkably, Sesame Street’s first volume on DVD, spanning the years 1969 to 1974, comes with an “adults only” warning because of content that includes Cookie Monster puffing on a pipe.
The beloved children’s series is now making headlines over a new muppet with a controversial storyline. His name is Alex and he misses father, except Daddy isn’t deployed or deceased. He’s in jail.
Parents concerned about the so-called “jail muppet” should know that Alex will be appearing primarily online rather than becoming a regular part of Sesame Street’s cast. Additionally, the creation of Alex is to target a growing demographic of children, as recent statistics reveal fewer children have a deployed parent than an incarcerated parent.
Despite some backlash, many support Sesame Street’s decision to reach out to children who don’t belong to what is considered a “traditional family.” However, in today’s economy, perhaps the muppet we should be touting is Lily, who qualifies for a free lunch program. She may be the one with the most relevant, widespread message.
What do you think of the new muppet, Alex?