4 ‘Sesame Street’ controversies
When the dirt slingers at TMZ reported in November 2012 that the man pulling Elmo’s strings had been accused of an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old boy, a media firestorm was ignited. Puppeteer Kevin Clash denied the claims, saying the relationship with his accuser had been between consenting adults. The accuser recanted the next day, and Clash said he was relieved that “this painful allegation has been put to rest.” But a week later, he resigned his 28-year tenure on Sesame Street.
Since then a second and third man have stepped forward to accuse Clash of improper conduct.
Mitt Romney vs. Big Bird
Answering a question in the Oct. 3 presidential debate about tackling the deficit, Mitt Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer, a PBS colleague of Big Bird’s, “I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS … I like PBS, I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for [it].” The idea that Romney would want to cut a publicly funded arts program didn’t warrant much more than a raised eyebrow, but the media was in need of a sound bite from the debate, and the feathers flew.
Lily, the tough-times Muppet
From the anti-racist strains of Kermit The Frog’s “Bein’ Green” to the introduction of an HIV-positive Muppet in a South African production of the show, Sesame Street has never shied from addressing social issues and current events. When a poverty-stricken Muppet named Lily was introduced in an October 2011 prime-time special about nationwide hunger, some viewers cringed to see cuddly critters talking about such a dire subject. After Lily tells Elmo her family sometimes goes to the food pantry, he sympathizes, “Elmo never has to think about where his next meal is coming from.”
Bing: Read more about Lily.
Katy Perry gets cut
Katy Perry was only doing the two things she’s most famous for — singing and showing cleavage — when executives decided to pull a music-video segment of her with Elmo in an otherwise sweet, kid-friendly version of her hit “Hot N Cold.” Sesame Street had prereleased the clip on YouTube but decided not to air it on television in light of parental feedback, which included comments such as “my kid wants milk now.” Soon after, Perry appeared in an SNL skit busting out of a strategically cut Elmo T-shirt. Says Amy Poehler’s character, “Looks like today’s show is brought to you by the number 38 and the letter double-D.”