The disclaimer seems downright bizarre to me. A series that was geared for preschool kids is considered unacceptable for today's kids? Just what sort of material was okay for kids of the 1970's that is considered "adults only" three decades later??? If any parents watched this DVD set with pre-school age kids, what particular moments were there (if any) in which you felt compelled to cover your kids' eyes?
Its the difference in the times. Back then Oscar was a grouch.... He was mean. Kids are not supposed to be able to handle that these days.... What a joke. There was less indoctrinating the kids with everyone's culture and more of a cohesive culture in the old shows. My daughter and I watch the new shows every day (thanks Elmo) and its become rare to ever see someone who is not a minority on the show. It really bothers me that in an effort to be inclusive they exclude or at least minimize the true demographic make up of the country.
I think part of it deals with the fact that those original shows were based on educational standards of that time, which were vastly different from what the standards are today. I've also noticed in listening to old songs from Sesame Street that there are occassionally lyrics that, while not vulgar, I'm not sure how I'd explain to my son what something means.
BUT- if you want something in particular- first season, Gordon walks around showing a little girl around Sesame Street, introducing her to people she doesn't know, and eventually takes her back to his apartment to Susan for milk and cookies. I don't know any parents that would, today, be ok with their kids being walked around a new neighborhood with a stranger, going into a strangers house for a snack, all the while not checking in with a parent along the way...I don't want my son to learn or think that that type of thing is ok.
"I don't know any parents that would, today, be ok with their kids being walked around a new neighborhood with a stranger, going into a strangers house for a snack, all the while not checking in with a parent along the way"
Please tell me that you are joking. This comment is indicative of why children of today grow up in neighborhoods without knowing who their neighbors are -- which poses a greater danger for them. The neighborhood on Sesame Street is make believe. Does your child know the difference?
Are you saying that the show includes too many minorities? Back in 1969 when these shows first aired, you were lucky to find minorities at all on television. Every television show was extremely exclusive. Kids watching shows from back then wouldn't think there were other people in the world besides white people. There were so few minorities on TV that it "minimized the true demographic make up of the country."
With that being said, your kids can watch plenty of other shows without minorities. I'm sure that would make you happy.
There are some odd bits that may raise the hackles on the back of some modern necks. Kids playing follow the leader through a construction site that clearly is not OSHA standard for instance.
Sesame Street characters, not the muppets, but the people are very contemporary to the 1970's. Those cats were far out hip back then, man today, kids just wouldn't relate, ya dig?
There are also just the outdated elements. Typewriters, large transistor radios with no headphones, Gigantic robots that get stuck repeating the same phrase & need to be whacked with a fist to fix them...like a skipping record on a turn table. Not damaging to kids, but also not constructive for a preschooler to learn about.
I think the "adults only" part was a silly over statement, but "doesn't meet the needs of today's preschoolers" is not unfair.
Now on the flip side, my 5 year old will not watch "on-air" Street at all, but he BEGS to watch the Old School DVDs. Unlike the new shows, the old ones teach reading skills. Which is far out, if you dig what I'm sayin'. Since we got the DVDs 3 weeks ago, he has started to read on his own, & I know from watching him watch the shows, he's picked up a lot of skill from these DVDs, Now he's begging for The Electric Company DVDs!
As far as the outdated stuff, I enjoy watching these shows with him, & explaining that life was a bit different back when I was his age. He actually appreciates learning about this stuff, too. Kind of reminds me of when I was 5 & watched Looney Tunes from the 1940's. My Grandma took the time to tell me about victory gardens, war bonds & food rations. If you don't know what these are, go talk to your grandparents, they miss you!
I can't believe that you have a problem with the show including too many minorities. Do you have a problem with shows that include too few? Does every show have to be precisely representative of the entire country, or do you just wish your daughter had more white kids to watch on tv?
I also think that it is silly that these are no longer considered ok for kids. The one article I read about this stated things like Oscar being depressed, Cookie Monster being an addict and an unhealthy eater, the streets being dirty and dark, and of course, kids talking to strangers. My kids love the old Sesame Street videos and shows- my 4 year old knows how to count forward and backward and all of his letters, more than most of the other kids in his class. We lived in New York and the streets really are dirty. I protect my sons from things that I believe are inappropriate, usually violence, bad words, and sex fall into that category more than make believe monsters being silly.
I, for one, can't wait until my five-month-old is big enough to watch this DVD with me. THIS is the Sesame Street he is going to watch, not the "modern" one, which I think is too preachy and overly-PC (also, I can't stand Elmo). Call me crazy, but I don't see how sheltering our kids so much is going to teach them to handle the realities of today's world. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go get my son, who is sleeping on his stomach, get his teething ring out of the freezer, and put him in his walker.
Yay Mo's Mommy! I hear you, I am with you (though I am an aussie in Sydney). The preachiness never ends - don't get me started on the Wiggles. They dumb down and sanitize more than Captian Feathersword's non-metallic, non-sharp, non-scary sword!
Re the comments on too many minorities, the person who said this in fact said: "It really bothers me that in an effort to be inclusive they exclude or at least minimize the true demographic make up of the country."
which is surely not disputable???
My kids are brown-skinned and Asian-eyed, living in a very, very anglo-saxon dominated country, Australia. They are in the minority. They are NOT in the majority. Although it is lovely to see black kids and adults on TV here, it is rare, as rare as it is to see black kids in the outside world. I cannot comment on the USA other than to say that maybe Sesame St reflects a particular part of New York City -- and those of us not lucky enough to live there can only be jealous watching it!
similarly the Muppets - their sense of humour has some NY-Jewish specific elements to it that make the entire world laugh. ditto the italian stuff from fozzie bear. All this ethnicity/race stuff goes over kids' heads, they coldn't care less. It is just us mummies who kvetch over it!!
I am a fellow vintage Sesame Street fan. I have three kids,ages 12,8 and 4, and none of them have shown much interest in the modern show, but love my old school DVD's. I don't believe the new stuff teaches numbers,letters and other basic concepts half as effectively as in the distant past. It is WAY too relient on the "newer" muppets Elmo,Zoe,Rosetta and Telly!!! To put it bluntly-they are BORING!! One huge thing missing is the humor!! Everything is too serious and politically correct!! One person mentioned how some thought the old Oscar is too mean for today's kids. Well,is Telly-a negativity monger and an annoying complainer any better??? What appeal at all does that Muppet have??? I know Jim Henson,Jon Stone and their collegues were amazing and hard acts to follow,but can't the people working on the show today do any better than this?!?! As for that frigging Elmo,it wrecked everything!!! I know more then one person that would pay anything to wring its furry red neck and shut it up forever!! Now,now ,before anyone becomes scandalized,it's not a live creature and wouldn't feel a thing ( well,I guess the puppeteer's arm would hurt a while.) I beg of the current show's producer's,go back to the basics and return to the humour!! Maybe then kids will have an iota of interest in this show beyond their second birthday !! Bert and Ernie rule!!
i remember when i visited japan, a guy there complained that sesame street was too remedial and that he wanted a show that was more advanced for his kid. i told him that, if i wasn't mistaken, sesame street was created FOR minority, big-city kids. because so many of them are plopped in front of the TV for hours on end. trying to teach them the most basic of skills on a TV show was a good idea. my mom taught kindergarten in a VERY low-income black neighborhood, and noted that some of them started the school year not knowing any of their letters, numbers, or even their names (sometimes just their nicknames).
i told the guy that maybe someone in japan should come up with a show that was more "advanced," rather than waiting for americans to do it. i don't think they ever got around to doing it -- i think there's a japanese sesame street out now.
I'm so happy to see that the old school Sesame Street is alive and well somewhere. The drivel that kids of all ages have to watch today is lamentable. What made classic Sesame Street so pivotal was that if you were 2 or 5 or 8 you could still enjoy watching the show. Now with the 20minutes of Elmo's world at the end, anyone over the age of 18months is ready to tear their hair out. What today's creators have forgotten is that each of the muppets from the old school version was specifically created to mimic the developmental age of the children who were watching. Oscar was the terrible twos, Big Bird was 4 and inquisitive. What is elmo? Just annoying. If they would only take it back to their roots they may be able to get back on top.
"What made classic Sesame Street so pivotal was that if you were 2 or 5 or 8 you could still enjoy watching the show" Or 19...I remember watching it in college once or twice instead of going to my early classes! I plan to buy these for my 1 1/2 year old niece when she is a bit older, I have gotten her one or two of the sing-alongs that have the classic songs on them already. I think Elmo was created as the answer to competition from Barney, I would have to flip a coin to answer the question of which is more irritating. If I ever have kids, they won't be watching either. Incidentally, it was not considered OK to take cookies from strangers and romp through construction sites when I was a kid, either...but because my parents talked to me, I KNEW this, and understood that TV is make-believe and you don't necessarily do what you see on TV. The problem is that today, TV is supposed to be babysitter, teacher, AND parent.
About the pilot My two and a half year old son was riveted to the segment in the pilot about the cows. Nowadays, television programmers would find that boring and replace it with some fast paced animation flashing before your eyes. It is wonderful to actually have segments that a toddler can focus on for a period of time, rather than today's fast paced programming. I also don't understand why this is considered adult programming. Preschoolers are not going to think, gee it is ok for me to go into strangers homes and eat cookies, I'll just go outside by myself ... By the way, her teacher is with her, in case you missed that part ... she is not alone. All of the adults on the show are trustworthy respected members of the neighborhood, this isn't kids going into strangers homes.
Elmo bites. I absolutely HATE him. When I hear "Elmo's World," it reminds me how inane SS has become. The OLD SCHOOL SS was the best, and is the gold standard. Nowadays, it is lame and caters to the ones who breed little consumers instead of thinkers.
Elmo's World is SCARY!!!! Squiggly walls that my friends and I have decided look like a druggie have designed, and he talks to a fish to whom only he can heat the answer. It's just creepy. When I watched Sesame Street (early 90's), Elmo was there but the show wasn't about him. I miss how it was. If I have kids, I hope I can find the Sesame Street from back in the day. It was so much better than it is now.
I agree with so much on this discussion - and disagree with a bunch as well.
Sesame Street was always meant to be something for little kids to enjoy enough to sit and watch it (those with kids know how hard it is to get a child to sit still and be happy). Now once S-Street has that attention, what should be done with it? The original intent was to expose kids to a broad base of very basic life skills: sharing, neighbors, basic reading/numbers, body movement, shapes, colors, sounds, eating... the basics. But above all it had to maintain our children's attention. Guess what? Kids are different (yes, it's true!). Some kids thrive on the happy, fun vanilla-ness of todays (overly) politically correct environment. And for those kids - Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and other new stuff is great. Some kids need to see something or hear something a little surprising or downright shocking to hold their attention. That isn't a bad thing - just different. Others could care less about words coming from the TV but rather ask mom and dad what something is about. Example: anyone remember that awesome, wordless segment where they're in a crayon factory? Orange crayons from little girls hand, through manufacturing, back to little girls hand? (Loved it!) My daughter asked me what was happening and I told her. (I know - shocking right? Parent and child talking vs using the TV as a sole point of learning.) Other kids like to see sad stuff and learn through sympathizing.
For the parents that are so afraid of their kids getting traumatized from watching Sesame Street... wow. That's really my only reaction. Kids don't understand complex concepts in pre-school (technically the target audience). Someone mentioned how they didn't want their child to learn to go with strangers to meet neighbors. I don't personally have monsters living in my neighborhood so I'm pretty sure there won't be one to walk my daughter around the neighborhood and taking her into other peoples houses. But I have walked her around, spent time in our front yard, talked to our neghbors, had them over for parties, gone to their houses. I don't think that we should be assuming that kids will automatically equate a monster on S-Street with a human in real life. Give them more credit than that or spend more time with them to teach them the difference. Someone also mentioned an OSHA construction site. That just made me giggle. C'mon folks. Are we really not teaching them that running around a construction site can be dangerous? Are we not showing them tools and such and why they can be dangerous?
As for the skin color debate? S-Street caters to many parts of the world. Not every skin color is represented. I do think that there has been too much focus on minorities being on camera. And don't flame me stating crud such as "is there not enough whites on TV already??" I'm not talking about all of TV. I'm talking about one of the only TV programs my daughter is allowed to watch, Sesame Street. But we have to admit there's not much human adults on the show either. And all the married couples I've seen have been same-race. Why no complaining about that? Or how about the lack of accents? I live in a "melting pot" of culture. Not only do we have different color skin, we have different accents between people. (Should I push the gay button? No, I think not... not this discussion thread.) Let's just bring it back to S-Street being on a street in NY, USA (which I'm not sure is factual - but it fits conveniently) and the racial composition is actually pretty accurate. Conclusion: let's not worry about skin color so much. Our kids aren't stupid and they can plainly see differences. But why highlight that? Is that really something we want them to care about so much?
With all that being said, I'm SUPER Happy the Old School stuff is back. I was born in 1983 so it's always been reruns for me. I LOVED it. I watched it before school every morning and on weekends they showed 2 episodes in a row!! (Before cable, 2 episode of the same show in a row WAS a marathon - not these 12 episode events they do today.) I'm excited to get it for my daughter to enjoy over and over as well. Since I'm quite sure I know the difference between monsters and humans, and I don't care that much about skin, and I don't plan on letting her play in dangerous places ... I have faith she's going to be good to go as well - even watching S-Street "not suitable for kids."
It's because the old school Sesame didn't water down and sanitize the world and the poverty other kids lived in at the time. I hate this mentality-it almost seems that now we believe white affluent kids need to be protected from the experiences of broke kids of any culture. Perhaps they would have too much empathy if they knew the truth and rebel too much against the status quo. The irony is that things for most kids got worse in these past 40 years-now this show is so irrelevant and insulting to any intelligence that I want no part of it, or any of the other new children's shows.
I say don't wait until your neice is older! My son is 22 months old and LOVES Elmo and Oscar and can name all of the characters on sight (Bert, Grover, Big Bird et al). I think Elmo was created as an answer to Kermit (Jim Henson) passing away. He might be annoying to some, but I think he is just adorable.
Regarding accents. In the first years of Sesame Street, you knew that the show was filmed in NY. The children definetely had NY accents. You especially hear it during the counting songs. The show actually was based on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (before gentrification), which at that time had a mix of poor, working-class and middle-class residents. There was also a large Black/Hispanic presence. The kids looked, sounded and acted like normal inner-city kids of the time. Being a native New Yorker (the East Bronx), I can relate. That New York is almost gone. We were allowed to play alone in the street (there were 1,000 sets of eyes watching us from the windows up and down our block). The kids were just kids being kids. Now, it's all acting. I remember there was a scene where a kid was jumping up and down on an old mattress (parents nowadays would havew a fit). We did the same thing, except we would jump off the fire escape and land on the mattress until someone told us to stop (or else). We had toys, but we basically made our own fun. Sesame Street was the same way. Now, like life in general, it's over-structured.
My own white semi-affluent kids grew up with Sesame Street from the very first show, and I often watched, too, grinning. So, last year I ordered a DVD of these "old school" episodes for my two-year-old granddaughter. She loved the shows, and so did I. The live segments were so serene and simple, moving along slowly enough for their ideas to sink in. (This is, as opposed to the latter-day episodes of frenetic, loud, raucous, mind-numbing material.)
But this old-school DVD has a major flaw: it contains only the first episode for each of five successive years. Since the numbers of the day, and the letters of the day, happened to be nearly the same on on each of those episodes, my granddaughter didn't have exposure to all the other numbers and letters.
Oh, how I wish they would release some DVDs of the entire years' shows, from about 1969 to 1975. (Frankly, I liked the first year's Big Bird much better than the later versions--his head was small and gave him a very awkward appearance that was so endearing.) It's almost beyond belief that I cannot get copies of these old episodes.
Thank you, everyone, for this discussion!! I'm heartened by the open and frank discussion about racism, which is America's most challenging issue. And yes, it's relevant to this discussion because old school Sesame Street was a pioneer in inclusiveness which affected a whole generation, so I think it is good for today's children to watch.
First, I don't think the first commenter, Jason H. Watson, was complaining that the old Sesame Street had too many minorities. He's not even complaining that the fact that the new SS has more minorities is bothersome. Read it again, carefully, and I think you'll have a different understanding of the subtle point he was trying to make.
But I want to respond to those commenters who *thought* that he doesn't think kids should watch a show with a lot of minority actors and actresses:
Possibly the human actors/actresses on the old Sesame Street were chosen because SS was courageous enough to hire the best people for the part, regardless of how much melanin their skin had. Let's face it, there were some GOOD actors and actresses on SS. For example, I realize now that I became an instant Buffy Saint-Marie fan because of what I can only describe as dignified beauty, even when she was having conversations with Big Bird. She also made me believe Big Bird was a real person with feelings by the way she treated him. That's good acting. As a child, the notion that my TV friends like Gordon and Susan were only their because of quotas never entered my mind, and I doubt if your preschool children will. I just liked them and they made me feel comfortable.
Regarding the comments about the characters on the show who aren't being "good examples":
Having a chance to hear/see stories about people with character flaws like Oscar-the-Grouch gives parents the opportunity to talk about those flaws and the consequences of choosing to behave in certain ways. It's the only option to having children discuss the flaws of their parents and friends, which is hurtful and divisive. As I watched Oscar's story unfold from season to season, I realized that he did care about others and they cared about him, despite his "grouchiness." I learned a lot from Inch the Worm's example.
One last point about showing this to preschoolers: We didn't have TV in my part of the world until I was about 5 years old, and I didn't start watching SS regularly until age 6. I think a lot of the subtleties about human interactions would have gone over my head if I had watched them as a preschooler. I already knew how to read and write by the time I started watching it, but the shorts were so fun that I didn't mind, and I was exposed to some catchy melodies that I sing to my kids. And I learned some Spanish that I still remember to this day. So as your kids get older, let them watch it again!
I hope you get a chance to watch Electric Company with your kids, too. I think it's Morgan Freeman's best work!
If there's anything you want clarification on in my comment, please reply to this post and I'll try to clarify.