Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Can you tell me how to get...?

Why is everyone hating on Sesame Street? Twice this week I have found myself defending this greatest of shows. First my mom e-mailed that Time magazine said Sesame Street might "not meet the needs of today's preschool child" because Cookie Monster eats too many cookies. Are you kidding? I'll tell you who is clearly not meeting the needs of today's preschool children -- 1)their parents 2)any media company who would print that statement (or similarly absurd statements such as "W. Bush has legitimate reasons for going to war in Iraq")

Then today in class (the Gender Colloquium) we discussed categorization and the intersectionality of categories in legal advocacy. Example: there is often a blur between race and sex discrimination. Like, if Don Imus goes around calling someone "nappy-headed hos" it is interesting how quickly it became a racial discussion more than a women's groups discussion. That kind of thing. Anyway, the speaker talked about how we learn categorization from Sesame Street, a la "One of these things is not like the other."

Now, I like me some Ani DiFranco as much as the next person (if not more so), but her lyric "They tried to test my IQ, they showed me a picture of three oranges and a pear, they asked me which one is different and doesn't belong, they taught me different is wrong" is great poetry, but it is not the literal truth. Sesame Street is awesome and helps connect synapses and teach kids how to hang out in the world. As I pointed out in class today, there is no value judgment about circles and triangles. They're just different. One is not better than the other.

Also in that class, and I realize I am breaking my no-blogging-about-classmates-rule for the second time in a week, but come on: we were talking about optimism and pessimism in law students and lawyers, and some girl brought up The Secret. UGH. And quite frankly, a phrase more vulgar than "ugh" slipped out of me -- aloud, I fear -- before I could even catch myself. So I had to cover it up by saying some more about Oprah and pretending I wasn't offering this classmate my biggest eye roll of the semester. The Secret. Puh-leeze. I actually don't dislike Oprah at all, but she so missed the boat on that one. She should go back to He's Just Not That Into You.

*note: Not only is this the second time I have quoted Ani DiFranco's song "My IQ" but also the second time I have mentioned Ani D. and George W. in the same post (here's the first). This time instead of Tolstoy and Cleary, they are joined by Oprah, Don Imus, and Cookie Monster, another fabulous assortment of guests for a dinner party if I do say so myself.


Anonymous said...

Funny - I was humming the Sesame Street theme in the shower today and thinking about how it would play in a Latin jazz arrangement - quite well, I think. And then I thought that probably it has already been done, but I can't think of whom may have done it....not that it would stop me. Weird you should blog on it today.
Cookie Monster rocks. Have journalists nothing better to do? Pick on somebody else other than the formidable C.M.
Kim Diaz (No, I can't remember my damn Google password.)

James said...

But the law of attraction IS SO TRUE!!!

I can't prove it, you just have to trust me. Anyone want to join my cult?

jnap said...

Well, I have heard tell that students are discouraged from reading Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" because it is so racist. It may be, but it was an important period piece in an important part of our history, and folks just don't understand that.

Or, the humor in "The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming" is lost if you do not understand "the cold war," AND the isolationism and patriot ownership of islanders of Massachusetts.

Just like folks don't understand that Sesame Street has more to offer than cookies. AND, it was VERY IMPORTANT breakthrough children's television. When it came out, probably the best we got was Romper Room or Captain Kangeroo and Sesame Street is heads and shoulders above that.

Wendy said...

I laughed out loud at this story in my office. The audible "UGH" in class is so great. I like Oprah too but she has a high tolerance for nonsense. Remember when "Dr." John Gray was on all the time telling us that women are from Mars, etc.

Hooray for Sesame Street. I'm looking forward to watching it with my baby soon. I hear that it has become the Elmo Show, though, which is lame.

Saradevil said...

Categorization is an important cognitive skill and one that needs to be taught.

However the use of categorization to vilify various groups of people is not a skill that has ever been taught on Sesame Street.

Anyone who thinks so obviously goes in the stupid people box.