Shifting the Protagonist of Sesame Street

by practicalspactical

When I was a child, the protagonist of Sesame Street was Big Bird. Given that viewers enter a world through the person of the protagonist, it was both clever, profound, and powerful that we children were told that what we really were was a nice, large, awkward bird with bright yellow feathers. Echoing somewhat our own Ā fierce brightness of soul and alienation from the Adult World.

Though I have not watched Sesame Street lately, it seems that the role of protagonist has at least partially shifted to the character of Elmo, who is more outwardly congruent with the notion of being a child, wanting to have fun, and being taught such. While this shift can only be explained because of the deep fascination real children had with that character, an alienation effect is lost where our strange uncanniness was shown to us through the strangeness that was Big Bird.

What’s lost is the celebration of diversity. What we get instead is the continuing conforming effect of our society that tells us that kids are kids, adults are adults, and we are all expected, foreseen, and fully predictable.