Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sesame scandals

By the time I get around to blogging, things that happen “now” actually took place a few weeks ago. The real Internet is about five times faster than this wee little blog. I hope you'll be patient with me as I comment on an old story- namely the one about Katy Perry not being allowed on Sesame Street for showing a little too much "skin." It's nice to know that those overprotective parents are still on the job. Just a few comments on that situation.

If you knew that something illegal was going on in the city hall of your hometown, you'd be upset and demand the illegal action stop. It is, after all, your city, and you want it to be run the right way. Well, Sesame Street has become an institution that everyone thinks they “own.” The show finds itself in the unfortunate position of trying to please everybody. This is particularly important for Sesame Street, since the show relies very much on input from the children who watch it. While it's true that this can be a great benefit in some ways, “too many cooks spoil the broth,” as they say. With so many people keeping an eye on the show, something like this is going to happen from time to time. It's happened before – songs and skits have been edited or dropped altogether due to complaints and concerns. Here are the two most notable:

1. The “I want a monster to be my friend” song - the original version was dropped due to worries that it promoted child abuse. Ugh.
2. The divorce episode. In an effort to deal with the issue of divorce, an episode was created dealing with Snuffy’s parents getting divorced. Because the test audience of kids did not fully grasp what was going on, the show and the subject were dropped. That decision marked an important turning point in the history of the show. Up until then, Sesame Street had tackled some somewhat complex subjects for kids - death, marriage and having babies being the big three. But when they chose not to press the issue of divorce, they sort of decided not to press any more similar issues. Sesame Street certainly doesn’t push the envelope anymore. Now they are part of the “establishment,” if you will, which is actually not necessarily bad. But it was a radical show for its time. I fear we won’t be seeing anything too radical from them in the future.

As an aside, do you recall the worries about Cookie Monster “not liking Cookies anymore?” I wasn’t too worried about it, because I knew that it was already established that Cookie didn’t only eat Cookies. (Cookie actually eats just about anything). And indeed, today he still eats Cookies. If they really were concerned about Cookie, they would just drop the character, as they have done with so many other characters on the show. But sadly, I think that the “A cookie is a sometimes food” deal was more of a PR thing than anything else. It was meant to get people worried, to make some money, then to let things get back to normal. Kind of like Superman’s death. Kind of like Spider-Man’s new costume. Kind of like. . .well, hopefully you see where this is going.

Perhaps the Internet has been a great blessing to the show because it has prevented this skit from “corrupting our youth.” Maybe this is the new way that questionable material can be eliminated from the show. Just pull it when Internet viewers complain. It's a reasonable idea – how much worse would it have been if this “horrid” material had aired in front of billions of kids? Better to “nip it in the bud” and stop it before it even airs on TV. Consider how quickly the uproar arrived over the skit. If there are enough people peeking into the Sesame Street website, maybe they can be the de facto guards and give the final “yea” or nay” as to what airs. That seems to be what they're doing now, anyway.

VIVA VARIETY: Let’s go back in time to. . .well, to just about any time between the 1950s and the 2000s. You’re in a record store, or if it’s post 1990, you’re in a CD store. You find an album that has a song that you like. You find another album that has another song that you like. The problem is you only have enough money to buy one album. You have to make a decision which song you’d prefer. “Wouldn’t it be nice,” you say to yourself, “if I could somehow put both of these songs on the same album?”

Fast forward to today, when such a thing is possible. I don’t work for Mix & Burn, but the technology is finally here to walk into a store and essentially create your own album mix without having to buy ten separate albums. Mankind has waited for this day for far too long. I thought I would share with you the play list from my latest CD to give you an idea of the wide selection of tunes available. All these tracks are available at the stores that have the mix & burn technology. Here’s “Popcorn”:

1. Reminiscing -Little River Band
2. Take up your cross- John Michael Talbot
3. Popcorn - The Muppets (specifically, the Swedish Chef)
4. Bulletproof - La Roux
5. Waiting on the world to change - John Mayer
6. Eagle - ABBA
7. 17 Again - Eurythmics
8. It’s just a matter of time - Randy Travis
9. Genie in a bottle - Christina Aguilera
10. Saturday in the Park - Chicago
11. Morning has broken - Art Garfunkel
12. We See - Thelonious Monk
13. It’s a Heartache - Bonnie Tyler
14. Angel - Sarah McLachlan
15. Adios, Au Revoir, Aufwiedersehn - Lawrence Welk
16. Viva La Vida - Coldplay

Pretty cool variety. Of course, they don’t have everything, and I have found myself making a list of all the songs I like that they don’t have. But despite its limitations, this is very cool. I get the music I like and I save money. See, life isn’t so bad.


FOUR TIMES FOUR: Just a few quick additions to the last post about the Melody Four, based on some recently found album notes. How did they get their name? Rather quickly, it turns out. Just before they were about to make their debut on the radio, someone asked what their name was. They didn’t have one, so the someone told the announcer, “Call them the Melody Four.” The moral: Don’t waste too much time thinking of a name for your band. Also, it turns out that Bill Pearce wasn’t just a member of the 16 Singing Men - all four of the Melody Four were as well. That is in fact, how the 16 Singing Men were formed - They took each member of the band and added three other people who could sing their same parts. Hence 16 singing men. The moral: Mathematics and music go together. And consider this revelation: The 16 singing men weren’t all men! Well, the men were, but the women weren’t. It turns out that some ladies helped them out on some of their albums. This is somewhat misleading, of course. I realize that “16 singing men and a few singing women thrown in for good measure” is kind of a long name, but it would have been more accurate. The moral: Even Christian bands can lie if there’s not enough room to fit their name on the album cover.


FRIENDS NO MORE? Courteney Cox and David are breaking up? Boy, talk about mixed feelings. :) Actually, they’re not so mixed. When you like someone, you want them to be happy, regardless of who - or if - they choose to marry. I’m hoping against hope that it’s not too late and they’ll try again to make it work. It’s like the advice I once gave to a friend whose marriage was breaking up. Do everything in your power to make it work. That way, even if it doesn’t work, you’ll be able to walk away saying, “I did everything I could.” I hope Courteney and David do everything they can.


POST, ALREADY: Here’s a philosophical question for you: If I spend all my time blogging, tweeting and texting, does that mean I don’t have a life, or if I DON’T spend all my time blogging, tweeting and texting, does that mean I don’t have a life? An argument could be made either way, if you think about it. And if you think about it, does that mean you don’t have a life?

In the long list of suspects that keep this blog from being updated, the usual culprits abound: family, friends, home movies, computer troubles (sorry about all that spam I’ve been sending you), work, homework, work on my home, work at my home, etc. It’s frustrating for me, because ideas for posts arise, but time keeps me away. Most recently, a new writing project is eating away all my free computer time. I’m having fun writing, but blog posting is getting pushed aside again. Hopefully you’ve figured out that an abundance of words doesn’t necessarily mean anything. And with that in mind. . .