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As Oil Peaks, Welcome Back To Sesame Street. Dusko Jocic (November 16th, 2005)

As a kid I didn't know the situation facing the characters on Sesame Street. I didn't realise
that the only people in inner cities in the seventies and eighties were those too poor to get out.
That would explain why Oscar the Grouch lived in a trash can and why an armless Snufalufagus had a hard time getting a traditional office job in the burbs. So why does Sesame Street continue to be such a popular program for youngsters? As many inner cities are abandoned by high wage earning residents, those individuals take their children to the suburbs where they are now disconected from real community.

It's sad when Elmo becomes your best friend because mom decides that washing her hairy behind with a new bidet is more important than friends for her kids. The family room and four piece bathroom were real status symbols during the eighties, but how did those impact my generation? My parents were immigrants and didn't see the value of summer camp and thought it was a waste of money. I agree with them today, but have you ever experienced the loneliness of riding your bike through subdivision after empty subdivision on a summer afternoon? Most adults were at work and their kids were in camp or little league. Sometimes my only friends would be senior citizens that found themselves in a similarly bored predicament. Can someone please tell me how to get away from Senile Street? Community needs to be built close to home and not come through the premium of private education and transportation.

When I was ten my best friend was an eighty year old woman that walked three furry husky dogs through my subdivision every day. I guess I could relate to the dogs because they kind of reminded me of muppets. I was educated by her about bible prophecy and how Jesus was coming back real soon and that he would all be punished for the evil deeds we've done. I was desperate for attention and this was all I could get, so I decided to take it. I just paid for it with religiously induced panic attacks later in life. In some ways I was in my own bizarro world and Sesame Street was something that was a completely fabricated fantasy where the muppets were laughing behind my back.

Did you ever notice how certain Sesame Street characters were always portrayed in a fantasy setting? Cookie Monster is always shown in front of a boring puke pink silk screen, devouring cookies. Perhaps the inspiration for Cookie Monster lies in the overconsuming lifestyle of suburbia. C is for Cookie, but C also stands for Calorie. So why didn't Cookie Monster blimp up to the size of a white trash soap opera princess? He's crosseyed, has little muscle definition and is constantly on a sugar high. Obesity can't be far away, right? And you know we'll be seeing him in a rascal as soon as immobility sets in.

What about Bert & Ernie? Are they representations of the gay and lesbian communities that decided to stick it out in the downtown cores of San Francisco, New York, Toronto and other major cities. During the seventies and eighties it would have been tough to be a gay anywhere, especially the suburbs. A grown man singing about a rubber ducky in the bathtub would not be tolerated by the tighty whiteys of suburbia. That said, God forbid that we actually expose our children to real minorities.

Sesame Street displays sanitized minorities in an urban setting. Americans pretend to not be racist, but segregation is still the tradition. Today it's based on economics. We are teaching kids to observe negros and latins in their new native habitat, the inner city. What we don't realise is that places like Sesame Street will become in high demand as peak oil arrives. Will residents greet former suburbanites with open arms like the characters on Sesame Street?

Places like Harlem were once the centers of African American Culture but today they are becoming gentrified and HMV, Disney, the Wiz, Foot Locker and other major retailers are moving in to supply new whiter residents with shopping neccessities. Gone are the days when it was a mightly African American Cultural Center. It is entering a period of cultural decline. Maybe the reason African American Culture is so popular is because it involves an actual community. In the near future it will be interesting to see what happens to the inner city as suburbanites return to environments based on real community. They will be forced to interact with residents from less familiar backgrounds and lifestyles. Maybe children will leave their homes, and play outside once again like the kids on Sesame Street do, regardless of skin color and beliefs.


By: Dusko Jocic


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