Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Sesame Street: Then and Now

Then: Cab Calloway, time-tested jazz pioneer and singer/songwriter, doing one of his signature songs with muppets as his back-up band. Fun AND educational. Calloway's voice wasn't what it was in the 1930s and 1940s, but he was still one groovy cat!

Now: Katy Perry, pop-tartlet flavor of the moment, doing... I don't know what she's doing. I suppose there's a mild educational message in this altered version of her catchy hit song, but how does it help parents who use the TV as a babysitter help broaden the horizons of themselves and their kids?

(It's worth noting that the Perry segment never did make it into a "Sesame Street" that aired, but probably not for the reasons it should have been cut.)


  1. You think they should have aired it?

  2. No, but not because some perverted adults think Perry's dress was too low-cut (especially when the "low cut" is actually a flesh-colored front, which they would have noticed if they hadn't been so busy fantasizing about boobies).

    Plus, I've seen little kids play dress-up with tacky outfits like that all the time. The kids in the audience wouldn't see the Perry clip the way adults (especially those with dirty minds) view the clip.

    The main problem with the segment is that it doesn't teach anything in particular and it doesn't expose parents or their kids to anything they might not already be familiar with. The Cab Calloway one isn't terribly instructional either, but at least it features a classic song by an artist who more than stood the test of time. Does anyone really think we'll still be talking about Katy Perry in 2061? What new and original has she contributed to pop music? I'll grant she's a little more original musically than Lady Gaga, but not by much. (At least with Perry, my first thought wasn't "Hey... I remember hearing this song when Duran Duran performed it under a different title.")

  3. What's the educational message in the Hi Di Ho clip? Maybe Cab should have done "Reefer Man" to educate kids about marijuana.

    I would complain as well. Perry's tits are popping out of her dress. This is a pre school show. I think they showed poor judgment there.

  4. I already said why I feel the Calloway clip has educational value. And Perry's tits weren't popping anywhere anymore than they would have been if the entire front of the dress had been solid green.

    As for "Reefer Man," is that really a pro-pot song? At best, it's neutral, because it's about avoiding the guy who's high, isn't it? It's no "Wicked Weed" that's for sure. I still wouldn't put it on "Sesame Street," but I'm not sure it's a good example for the point you're trying to make.

    And I agree the Sesame Street producers showed poor judgement. We just disagree as to where that poor judgement was made. Or maybe we're both right.

  5. Clarification: I think there's more educational value is exposing parents and children to an artist (like Cab Calloway) than to the corporate pop construct of the moment (like Katy Perry). The songs are not educational, but knowing the person exists and that their music might be worth seeking out is. For the parents and ultimately for the little kids.

    (I thought that was clear above, but maybe it wasn't.)

  6. So its "educational" in the sense that it exposes pre school kids to influential musicians from forty years ago, without even explaining when or why he was famous. That's my take on what your are saying.

    Also why didn't Sesame street insist on keeping the clip in if there's absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate with it as you say?

  7. Television does not educate kids. Parents do. Calloway can be a starting point for education. Perry, not so much.

    So, yeah, that's not only a good take on what I'm saying... it's a perfect one.

    And I didn't say there was nothing wrong with the Perry clip. In fact, I said the opposite.

    As for why Sesame Street didn't air the clip, they made that clear: Complaints from parents and "parent advocacy groups". That doesn't change the fact that I consider the "Perry was in a low cut dress" a bogus one. (And when "X advocacy group" is in the mix, one can count on the complaints being bogus, almost as a given.)