I had taken Monday off to watch over my four-year-old Goddaughter while her mother had surgery in Nashville and found myself exposed to a lengthy sample today's children's programing.
Watching her interact with the shows on the Nickelodeon spin-off channel for pre-schoolers called Noggin had me thinking about the educational fare my generation was exposed to during that time period.
Which, according to the New York Times, may have caused all of us serious mental damage.
An article by Virginia Heffernan states that the new DVD release of Volumes 1 and 2, "Sesame Street: Old School" is for adults-only.
What the ....
"These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child," the label on the DVD box states.
Now, the way this article is written tends to make me think this is satire, but look at all the things that the Children's Television Workshop produced back then which is now considered verboten:
What they did to us was hard-core. Man, was that scene rough. The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating. Cookie Monster was on a fast track to diabetes. Oscar's depression was untreated. Prozacky Elmo didn't exist.
Nothing in the children's entertainment of today, candy-colored animation hopped up on computer tricks, can prepare young or old for this frightening glimpse of simpler times. Back then -- as on the very first episode, which aired on PBS Nov. 10, 1969 -- a pretty, lonely girl like Sally might find herself befriended by an older male stranger who held her hand and took her home. Granted, Gordon just wanted Sally to meet his wife and have some milk and cookies, but . . . well, he could have wanted anything. As it was, he fed her milk and cookies. The milk looks dangerously whole.
As you read the above linked article, it appears that the hyper-sensitive types are on the lookout for anything that might upset or offend someone ... or even the mere insinuation that something might be amiss.
But these warning labels are finding themselves placed on a lot of old school toons that we grew up with. Classic animation from Warner Brothers and MGM now come with "adult only" and "for collectors only" disclaimers, warning of the racist, sexist and degrading behavior contained within. Many of the early Pink Panther shorts featured cartoon drunks, who thought Pink was just a relative of the elephant that would show up whenever they would tie one on.
Try buying the uncut first season of Ren and Stimpy at Wal-Mart and they'll ask you for ID. And don't get me started on Popeye, which I have already blogged about.
So old episodes of Sesame Street, Bugs Bunny and the like are now deemed bad for kids ... yet the most popular animated shows today are things like Family Guy and South Park, which has pushed the limits of what can be put on TV to their extremes.
And things like Bratz gets marketed to four-year-olds, who constantly demand that their godfathers buy everything in the collection for them. Which I nearly did ... that is, until I actually saw what they were selling.
Is it just me, or is there something really wrong with us these days?