Friday, November 23, 2007

Sesame Street: Not For The Kids

Everybody watched Sesame Street as a kid. I did; you probably did too. But, apparently, what we thought was good, fun entertainment as kids was actually a mind-warping experience.

Over the past year or so, Sesame Workshop (the former Children's Television Workshop) has released a series of videos called Sesame Street: Old School, which is a greatest hits package of the first 10 years of the show. I would see this as a great thing for parents in their 30s, as they could share their memories of a TV show that their children watch to this day. Or maybe not.

An article in The New York Times drew my attention to the fact that every episode on these videos comes with a disclaimer that states that these shows are for the enjoyment of adults only and may not be suitable for children, as they don't reflect the current standards of children's programming.

"Adults Only"? What, Sesame Street is porn now?

How did it become that episodes of a show we loved as children could possibly warp our children? Well, actually, it didn't. It's the same show. It's that our mindsets have changed as we got older.

As kids, we didn't have a problem with the fact that Cookie Monster crammed his gob full of cookies, ate nothing but, as a matter of fact. Yet now, Cookie Monster is on a diet and eats healthy foods. (Actually, Cookie Monster didn't so much as eat cookies as he did smash them up in his mouth before letting the bits fall back out of his mouth. Was Cookie Monster bulimic? The horror.)

We weren't bothered by the fact that only Big Bird could see Snuffleupagus, yet now everyone can see Snuffy. Big Bird wasn't so "crazy" after all.

And we didn't have a problem with Oscar the Grouch, who really was a son of a bitch. He was quite humorous. But now we have a producer of Sesame Street claiming that Oscar wouldn't even be considered as a character archetype if he hadn't already existed from the "old days." There's an HIV-positive Muppet on the South African version of Sesame Street, and we're worried about a character whose "bad" trait is that he's grouchy? Whatever happened to escapism?

Truth is, the reason these "old school" episodes of Sesame Street are for "adults only" is that my generation, the dread Generation X, is afraid of being bad parents. We remember the laissez-faire way our parents raised us, and it scares the hell out of us that if we did that, we'll be perceived as bad parents.

When I was a kid, no one wore seat belts, especially kids. Car seats lasted forever. Now, it's mandatory to seatbelt kids. Car seats "expire" and require regular replacement. Cars are safer than ever, and the all-plastic car seat of today is better than the aluminum tube frame-and-plastic ones we sat in as kids. So, why the worry?

Because our minds changed. The entire concept of child-rearing changed. Those kids of the '70s whose parents disciplined them with a good yell and a swift smack in the ass are now making policy in the "child" industry, and wouldn't raise their voice to their little Timmy if he was dousing the curtains in gasoline.

And that's why Sesame Street: Old School is only for adults. It's nostalgia of a bygone era of child-rearing that doesn't exist anymore. Maybe our kids, who live in a completely different time and have a completely different mindset, wouldn't even enjoy it. Just like they wouldn't appreciate "Carry On Wayward Son," even if you thought that song was cool when you were a kid. (I wouldn't know, as my parents listened to AM talk radio. But I did gain an appreciation for Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, which would definitely be considered "adults only" these days.)

Just like our parents used to say when we were kids, it was better way back when. Sesame Street sure was: No Elmo back in those days. Talk about mind-warping.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Running Out Of Movie Ideas In 3...2...1...

When I saw Gone Baby Gone the other day (great film, btw), I noticed a poster for something called The Other Boleyn Girl. Knowing what little I know about history, I do that if we're making movies about this, we've officially run out of movie ideas.

I'm guessing that the "other Boleyn girl" to which the title refers is Mary Boleyn, the sister of wife #2 of Henry VIII. Mary is alleged to have had an affair with Henry before his introduction to Anne, whom he would persue for years and later marry.

Now, most of my history knowledge comes from TV, and the best source for Henry VIII knowledge on TV is Showtime's The Tudors, which just happens to be entirely about Henry and ANNE Boleyn.

I've seen every episode of the show, and, if I'm not mistaken, Mary appeared in part of one episode, basically long enough to show her tits, before she disappeared entirely. I'd say this wasn't odd, as the show isn't called The Boleyns, except that other Boleyn family members appear in every episode. The father has appeared in every episode and the brother has appeared in numerous episodes as well. But Mary? Just that one.

And if Mary doesn't appear in a show that is tangentially about the Boleyn family, how historically significant could she have been? Apparently enough to merit an entire movie that we don't need to see.

I think when The Other Boleyn Girl comes out, I'll take a pass. I'm saving the money I've alotted for movies about marginally-important historical figures for the upcoming Lewis Powell bio-pic, The Man Who Considered Killing Lincoln. I hear it's great.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Wacky Weekend Box Office

So, this weekend's box office has the same two films finishing in first and second. And while I'm not surprised that Bee Movie was the number one movie this weekend, I am surprised that it took two weekend for it to become number one, because it not winning its opening weekend tends to go against the movie-going tendencies of the general population.

Whenever there's an animated movie coming out, you can almost guarantee it to win the box office. In the weeks coming up to its release, animated movies get advertised the shit out of. Everywhere you turn, there's an ad for these movies. And Bee Movie was no different. They've been advertising this thing since, well, I think Truman was still in office. There have been print and TV ads for at least six months. There was an entire episode of 30 Rock basically dedicated to the movie (or at least to Jerry Seinfeld). There's even an HP commercial that throws in a plug for Bee Movie.

And, since all kids do is watch TV, they see these ads and want to go watch the movie. Happens with every animated movie, which is why they all make a ton of money.

So, what happened on Bee Movie's opening weekend? It got beat by American Gangster.

Now, in terms of quality, this isn't surprising, as American Gangster is an excellent movie that will get nominated for every Oscar. But it is surprising that more people went to see it than Bee Movie, because people will generally go see an animated movies to appease the incessant whining of their children. Unless it's poorly made or advertised, animated movies just don't lose the box office. (Remember Happily N'Ever After? Neither does anyone else, as it got smoked its opening weekend by Freedom Writers. Fucking Freedom Writers, for the love of God! That's terrible.)

Of course, everything was righted last weekend, when Bee Movie actually did win the box office by a slim margin over American Gangster. I guess a week after parents told their kids, "Fuck you, children: We're going to a movie we wanna see," they finally caved and took their spawn to Bee Movie. Yay, Dreamworks!

In other box office news, I found it odd that P2 finished ninth last weekend, as horror movies almost always seem to make money regardless of quality. It's too bad, as it's actually a pretty entertaining movie.

I also found it amusing that After Dark's Horrorfest barely broke $500,000 its opening weekend, as that's an accumulated gross for eight movies. It probably didn't help that most of the theatres only had it on one screen with rotating showtimes for the individual movies every day. Makes seeing any one of those movies a rather dodgy proposition. (The one I managed to see, The Deaths of Ian Stone, would have been good if it wasn't so goddamned boring. I guess these movies couldn't find a distributor for a reason.)

We'll see how this weekend's box office pans out. Maybe we'll get another shocker, and Love in the Time of Cholera will be #1.


Sunday, November 04, 2007


I don't have enough free hours in my day to read books. The last book I read all the way through was Hannibal Rising in December. To accomplish that feat, I read the whole thing in one sitting. I just don't have the time to sit down and read a book.

That being said, if you haven't read Stephen Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You!), you are missing out on possibly the funniest book ever written. In fact, if you are able to read this book without laughing once per page, you are either 1) dead or b) a Communist.

Do yourself a favor, and go buy it.

Exceeding Bandwidth...Now

You may have noticed that, in the right side column, I've put a YouTube video of Liz Phair in a Gap commercial.


Because I was hoping that it would make this page load slower than your average html-heavy MySpace profile. (

Unfortunately, due to Google (which also runs Blogger) having recently acquired YouTube, the YouTube player has been nicely integrated into the Blogger template, making for seamless, lag-free playback. You don't even have to cut-and-paste the embed code anymore; you just click a button, type in the name of the video, and there it is. And it doesn't even eat up any bandwidth.

So, I tried an experiment, in hopes of pissing myself (and quite possibly the readers of this blog) off, and I failed miserably.

Can't say I didn't try.

Oh, and why a Liz Phair Gap commercial, you ask? Because if you don't like Liz Phair, there's something wrong with you. No use arguing in the comments; you just aren't right.

That, and it's my blog. You can put your Fergie or whoever videos on yours.