Gentrification Of Sesame Street

From a hygienic street to Oscar the Grouch living in a recycling bin, Sesame Street today has changed from what it used to be. The gritty streets back in the late 60s when it first aired are gone; replaced by a glossy looking street, housing both original and new characters that don't quite have so many issues or the characteristic slowness many of the characters had. And it's not just the characters or the looks of the streets that have changed, it's the topics addressed, and the change in audience. The Sesame Street back in the late 60s has become increasingly more gentrified with its mellowed down characters, topics addressed, and its switch from PBS to HBO.

When Sesame Street first aired, many characters had their own quirky issues. A notable example is Oscar the Grouch. His first words on the show were: "Don't bang on my can! Go away! " ('Sesame Street Episode 1') This sums up his character all throughout the show: a grumpy Muppet with nihilistic views and an attitude that fits his namesake 'the Grouch' perfectly. A less notable example who is later removed from the show is Lefty the Left Salesman. This Muppet was known for his shady deals he always made to Ernie; approaching the latter with a secretive air around him. When reaching Ernie, he looks around, as if the police are after him. Nowadays, he can be interpreted as a drug dealer, as his actions appear dubious, but then again, nowadays, he doesn't appear anymore. However, while his Grouchiness still remains in the show, Sesame Street today focuses its attention more on certain Muppets to make them more familiar to children as they see their faces each week instead of an entire ensemble of characters. This group of characters consists of the younger Muppets, such as Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Cookie Monster (Jusino, Teresa) . It's understandable why they want to have a consistent set of characters each week, but their large cast of characters is what set Sesame Street apart from the other children's shows. There are many characters that have their own idiosyncrasies, and to focus mainly on younger characters to appeal more to the children mellows the show, because now it turns into just any general children's show that strives to teach kids with its own minimal, stock characters.

The topics addressed too, have shifted their focus on something more mellow and cautious than what it was. For instance, when taking a look at the earlier Sesame Streets episodes, the scenes and actions done by characters might be interpreted differently today. In the first episode it starts off the show with a little girl holding a man's hand. This man is a stranger and is showing the girl around because she is new to the neighborhood and later on invites her to his house for milk and cookies. It was a great idea; a newcomer tours the street and meets the characters, much like one who watches it for the first time. However now, a stranger inviting a girl to his house can be deemed inappropriate: with all these warnings about strangers in today's society, the man could be anything from a creep to a killer and have different intentions other giving her milk and cookies. Another momentous moment in the old-school Sesame Street is a scene where Kermit talks about feelings. And not all are joyous. In fact, he expressed his feelings of getting mad quite spontaneously when Cookie Monster ate his demo of a happy face. He yells at Cookie Monster, saying, "You are without doubt, the nastiest monster I've ever seen! And I'm so mad, I'm gonna tell all my friends how wrong you are and no one is ever going to play with you anymore! ' And the most damaging threat to Cookie Monster: 'Furthermore, I'm gonna tell your mother about you! " ('Classic Sesame Street- Kermit Talks About Feelings') This can be quite shocking to children, to see the usual happy-go-lucky frog blow a fuse so easily. This scene can also be quite influential: since Kermit is talking about feelings and what expressing them is like, children can emulate what he is doing, and cause not only Cookie Monster to end up in tears, but other children too. This is not something that would appear in today's show. In fact, the old school Sesame Street DVDs from 1969 to 1984 has been labeled with a warning saying: "These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child." (Schlesinger, Richard) Which leads into what a preschooler does need according to Sesame Street today?

While "today's show" would definitely have its changes from way back in '69, a major metamorphosis Sesame Street has gone through is production companies. From PBS to HBO, the target audience has changed along with them, and this is important. It used to be that the show was targeted towards inner-city kids: a show that was educational, fun, and most importantly, free. The streets resembled more of the inner city New York ('Sesame Street (Location) ') , which made the inner-city kids feel like they have a sense of belonging on Sesame Street (Jusino, Teresa) . And since that was the intended audience back in the late 60s, Sesame Street has remained that way for quite some time. However, with HBO calling the shots, and a subscription to pay for, the target audience has changed. Since it's targeted towards the more privileged kids who are able to afford it, the set has been refurbished and Sesame Street looks newer and cleaner. In addition to considering their new audience they also bring in more ideas as to what children nowadays would like; and with hundreds of other children's shows to compete with, they have to appeal more to the younger generation. And one thing a lot of children have nowadays is electronics, which means that they are more likely to watch Sesame Street from a device on their own and not with their parent or guardians. This would change Sesame Street, because all those pop culture references intended for the adults will now be left out, leaving it completely for the children. Furthermore, this is what HBO has gathered to retrofit Sesame Street: shorter episodes, a more appealing, revitalized Sesame Street, and more focus on a few, stock characters than the entire cast of Muppets for a sense of familiarity (Harwell, Drew) .

In all, while Sesame Street still contains its original elements with memorable characters, the show has been watered down to be more appropriate to today's generation. Its topics aren't as harsh and the great variety of characters have been let go of in lieu of a more familiar trio consisting of Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Cookie Monster, all of them more younger to connect with their audience. Finally, with PBS no longer being the first to air, giving the right to HBO instead; brighter skies and cleaner streets have arisen from the gritty pioneer. This serves to show that in the end, if Sesame Street is appealing to younger generations in the way of becoming brighter and cheerier, then what is to happen to our society and future generation of young ones in another fifty years?

From a hygienic street to Oscar the Grouch living in a recycling bin, Sesame Street today has changed from what it used to be. The gritty streets back in the late 60s when it first aired are gone; replaced by a glossy looking street, housing both original and new characters that don't quite have so many issues or the characteristic slowness many of the characters had. And it's not just the characters or the looks of the streets that have changed, it's the topics addressed, and the change in audience. The Sesame Street back in the late 60s has become increasingly more gentrified with its mellowed down characters, topics addressed, and its switch from PBS to HBO.

When Sesame Street first aired, many characters had their own quirky issues. A notable example is Oscar the Grouch. His first words on the show were: "Don't bang on my can! Go away! " ('Sesame Street Episode 1') This sums up his character all throughout the show: a grumpy Muppet with nihilistic views and an attitude that fits his namesake 'the Grouch' perfectly. A less notable example who is later removed from the show is Lefty the Left Salesman. This Muppet was known for his shady deals he always made to Ernie; approaching the latter with a secretive air around him. When reaching Ernie, he looks around, as if the police are after him. Nowadays, he can be interpreted as a drug dealer, as his actions appear dubious, but then again, nowadays, he doesn't appear anymore. However, while his Grouchiness still remains in the show, Sesame Street today focuses its attention more on certain Muppets to make them more familiar to children as they see their faces each week instead of an entire ensemble of characters. This group of characters consists of the younger Muppets, such as Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Cookie Monster (Jusino, Teresa) . It's understandable why they want to have a consistent set of characters each week, but their large cast of characters is what set Sesame Street apart from the other children's shows. There are many characters that have their own idiosyncrasies, and to focus mainly on younger characters to appeal more to the children mellows the show, because now it turns into just any general children's show that strives to teach kids with its own minimal, stock characters.

The topics addressed too, have shifted their focus on something more mellow and cautious than what it was. For instance, when taking a look at the earlier Sesame Streets episodes, the scenes and actions done by characters might be interpreted differently today. In the first episode it starts off the show with a little girl holding a man's hand. This man is a stranger and is showing the girl around because she is new to the neighborhood and later on invites her to his house for milk and cookies. It was a great idea; a newcomer tours the street and meets the characters, much like one who watches it for the first time. However now, a stranger inviting a girl to his house can be deemed inappropriate: with all these warnings about strangers in today's society, the man could be anything from a creep to a killer and have different intentions other giving her milk and cookies. Another momentous moment in the old-school Sesame Street is a scene where Kermit talks about feelings. And not all are joyous. In fact, he expressed his feelings of getting mad quite spontaneously when Cookie Monster ate his demo of a happy face. He yells at Cookie Monster, saying, "You are without doubt, the nastiest monster I've ever seen! And I'm so mad, I'm gonna tell all my friends how wrong you are and no one is ever going to play with you anymore! ' And the most damaging threat to Cookie Monster: 'Furthermore, I'm gonna tell your mother about you! " ('Classic Sesame Street- Kermit Talks About Feelings') This can be quite shocking to children, to see the usual happy-go-lucky frog blow a fuse so easily. This scene can also be quite influential: since Kermit is talking about feelings and what expressing them is like, children can emulate what he is doing, and cause not only Cookie Monster to end up in tears, but other children too. This is not something that would appear in today's show. In fact, the old school Sesame Street DVDs from 1969 to 1984 has been labeled with a warning saying: "These early Sesame Street episodes are intended for grownups and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child." (Schlesinger, Richard) Which leads into what a preschooler does need according to Sesame Street today?

While "today's show" would definitely have its changes from way back in '69, a major metamorphosis Sesame Street has gone through is production companies. From PBS to HBO, the target audience has changed along with them, and this is important. It used to be that the show was targeted towards inner-city kids: a show that was educational, fun, and most importantly, free. The streets resembled more of the inner city New York ('Sesame Street (Location) ') , which made the inner-city kids feel like they have a sense of belonging on Sesame Street (Jusino, Teresa) . And since that was the intended audience back in the late 60s, Sesame Street has remained that way for quite some time. However, with HBO calling the shots, and a subscription to pay for, the target audience has changed. Since it's targeted towards the more privileged kids who are able to afford it, the set has been refurbished and Sesame Street looks newer and cleaner. In addition to considering their new audience they also bring in more ideas as to what children nowadays would like; and with hundreds of other children's shows to compete with, they have to appeal more to the younger generation. And one thing a lot of children have nowadays is electronics, which means that they are more likely to watch Sesame Street from a device on their own and not with their parent or guardians. This would change Sesame Street, because all those pop culture references intended for the adults will now be left out, leaving it completely for the children. Furthermore, this is what HBO has gathered to retrofit Sesame Street: shorter episodes, a more appealing, revitalized Sesame Street, and more focus on a few, stock characters than the entire cast of Muppets for a sense of familiarity (Harwell, Drew) .

In all, while Sesame Street still contains its original elements with memorable characters, the show has been watered down to be more appropriate to today's generation. Its topics aren't as harsh and the great variety of characters have been let go of in lieu of a more familiar trio consisting of Elmo, Abby Cadabby, and Cookie Monster, all of them more younger to connect with their audience. Finally, with PBS no longer being the first to air, giving the right to HBO instead; brighter skies and cleaner streets have arisen from the gritty pioneer. This serves to show that in the end, if Sesame Street is appealing to younger generations in the way of becoming brighter and cheerier, then what is to happen to our society and future generation of young ones in another fifty years? (based on an essay of Elisabeth Spangenberg, San Francisco)

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