The Thinking 

The Sesamization of America

October 9, 2012


DANIEL S. writes:

I never much thought much about the negative social impact of the PBS children’s program Sesame Street, but Mark Steyn, in writing about Romney’s recent debate performance, states:

Unlike Mitt, I loathe Sesame Street. It bears primary responsibility for what the Canadian blogger Binky calls the de-monsterization of childhood – the idea that there are no evil monsters out there at the edges of the map, just shaggy creatures who look a little funny and can sometimes be a bit grouchy about it because people prejudge them until they learn to celebrate diversity and help Cranky the Friendly Monster go recycling. That is not unrelated to the infantilization of our society. Marinate three generations of Americans in that pabulum, and it’s no surprise you wind up with unprotected diplomats dragged to their deaths from their “safe house” in Benghazi. Or as J. Scott Gration, the president’s Special Envoy to Sudan, said in 2009, in the most explicit Sesamization of American foreign policy: “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. Kids, countries – they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes.” The butchers of Darfur aren’t blood-drenched machete-wielding genocidal killers but just Cookie Monsters whom we haven’t given enough cookies. I’m not saying there’s a direct line between Bert & Ernie and Barack & Hillary … well, actually, I am.

I grew up watching the program, as most children my age did, and it never has occurred to me that all the time I was learning about letters and watching silly puppets I was the recipient of liberal social engineering which denies the nature of evil (expect in the case of evil, white men). Fortunately for myself I preferred traditional narratives told by Tolkien, Homer, and the Bible and was thus able to have the foundation laid to overcome the anti-reality of liberalism.

—– Comments ——-

Jeanette V. writes:

I have always hated Sesame Street. I didn’t have a TV when my daughter was little so she didn’t watch it. On the rare occasion that we were at my parents I only let her watch Captain Kangaroo. I was put off by the setting (the ghetto) and the fiction that people who live in the bad part of town are nice and neighborly. I felt that it was a harmful message to send to a small child.

She read by the time she was almost four and had a rather enormous vocabulary for a small child. I think parents interacting with their children is much better than passively watching a children’s show full of propaganda.

Laura writes:

All TV is harmful for young children. It is inherently overstimulating. My children did watch some videos and shows I thought were harmless when they were young, but we then changed tracks and went through a long period of none at all, except for family movies we watched together and television for my son who was sick.

Terry Morris writes:

One of my more prescient friends calls the television the “stranger residing among us” in part because of mushy, mind-destroying childrens’ programs like Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood and a host of others.

I’ve mentioned this phenomenon elsewhere, but I think it bears repeating here: The last three high school graduation ceremonies my wife and I have attended have included lengthy Valedictory excerpts from none other than that pioneer of critical thinking, Dr. Seuss. I can’t wait to see how his deep, philosophical principles are applied when the generations raised on them are at the helm guiding the ship of state into the perfect storm looming on their horizon.

Should be interesting.

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