Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dumb Letters: The Oxy Morons

I don't get some people. Here's a couple writing to the NYTimes about what they didn't like about "Sesame Street".

Two decades ago, when our children were young, we weren’t wild about “Sesame Street.”

Most of the puppet characters were male, and the choppy format seemed designed to help reduce a child’s attention span.

Okay, I don't think that the first area of critique is an entirely valid reason for not watching something. If most of the characters were female, would that be okay? And the writers use the word "most". So there were some female characters, apparently. Not enough? What's the right amount? And were the male puppets (that, from what I know, lack genitalia) pushing some agenda of male-domination? If they were, I missed it. Which was probably part of CPW's nefarious plan, I guess.

The second point is a valid critique, althought the letter writers infer an active plot to reduce the chidrens' attention spans by using the phrase "designed to" instead of something on the lines of "had the unintended consequences of". This leaves a bad taste.

And no one really learns anything from a passive experience like television.
“Educational television” is still an oxymoron.

Okay, this is bullshit. We learn passively all the time. I'm all for hands-on education, but it isn't the only way we learn. I taught myself to read by watching "Sesame Street". I learned from it. It's simply impossible that I'm the only one. I continue to learn by watching television. It's not that you watch. It's what you watch. Just like it's what you read, what you listen to and who you talk to. And yet these snobs dismiss the entire concept with "no one really learns anything". So I guess they didn't ever tell their kids not to touch the stove. That would be passive learning. Better to let them learn by touching it themselves. "Educational television" is not now, nor ever was, an oxymoron.

But wait, these people can't leave well enough alone.

Our children preferred a now-forgotten series, introduced by James Earl Jones, called “Long Ago and Far Away,” which presented a wonderful tale accompanied by beautiful art.

There were no product tie-ins like Tickle Me Elmo, though, so that program wasn’t a moneymaker in the way that “Sesame Street” is.

WHAT? They went right from complaining about how nobody learns anything from television to extolling the virtues of...a television program.

And the fact that "Sesame Street" licensed their characters for merchandising is entirely irrelevant to the conversation. The program is the program. The products exist entirely outside of it. You can watch the show without buying the Tickle Me Elmo, believe it or not. I'm really not sure how one program is better than another because it didn't market its characters. Is making money a bad thing? Is it better to give money to CTW, that has a mission to educate kids, albeit in a way that these two chuckleheads find inferior to wonderful tales and beautiful art, or to some for-profit whose only interest is making money?

These are the kinds of people that even liberals would want to slap in the face.


Kizz said...

Don't fuck with Sesame Street. I will punch you in the neck. Even if I do think Elmo is kind of irritating.

Mrs. Chili said...

Want to come to my class? We're covering debate and persuasion, and I do so love the way you dissect an argument (especially the stupid ones)!

MAB said...

I'd love to come to your class. But I'm just shooting fish in a barrel here. That's why I call it Dumb Letters and not Letters with Which I Happen to Disagree.

Shannon Wagner said...

I remember really liking Sesame Street.

And, your "Dumb Letters" series is brilliant!