News

'Sesame Street' Reissues Not for Kids

New DVDs of old Sesame Street episodes come with a warning that they're intended for adults and may not suit the needs of today's kids, reports Virginia Heffernan of the New York Times blog The Medium.

Why? Why, why, why?

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What's amazing about that clip is the slow pace of it. Today most parents would assume their kids wouldn't sit still for it.

But is it actually the parents who can't sit still?

Sent by Sarah | 10:07 AM | 11-15-2007

How can you post this inappropriate content where unsuspecting kids could click on it and see cows? What about the children, BPP? What about the children?

Sent by Maura | 11:34 AM | 11-15-2007

I'm going to agree with Sarah. Perhaps the reason it isn't suited for today's child is that the clip is over 6 minutes long and is intentionally slow paced -- not 30 seconds with jump cuts galore.

Sent by Warren T | 12:47 PM | 11-15-2007

Alison, what was that insightful observation about Bert and Ernie you made reference to at the end of the cow segment? Scanned through Virginia's articles and blogs but I couldn't find anything.

Sent by Will G | 1:19 PM | 11-15-2007

I remember suffering through these wholesome video segments when I was a kid watching Sesame Street. Wasn't fun then, but it's surprisingly funny now.

Sent by Amanda | 4:09 PM | 11-15-2007

Hey guys -- some questions about where the article is -- we meant to say that the article is going to be in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. As soon as we get the link, we'll post it up here. Sorry about the confusion.

Sent by Matt Martinez | 4:21 PM | 11-15-2007

I loved these things when I was 3 years old. 'Sesame Street' is the same age I am. It was magical.

Sent by Paula Bowden sacramentopsychics.com | 7:24 PM | 11-15-2007

I LOVED the cow video. At the children's farmstead, a local industrial dairy sponsors the dairy barn. They have a film showing cows on a big turntable being milked by the hundreds at a time. On concrete, no grass ... Add hormones and antibiotics and the horrors of modern dairy production. Hey, that cow clip nearly made me cry. What a horrible journey we have taken in 40 years. We buy local, natural grassfed milk, can you tell? We watch these videos. I love them.

Sent by Expat Chef | 11:14 PM | 11-15-2007

I like the Nick Drake style music, with a touch of VU with Nico. It's interesting how this sound is so hip once again.

Sent by Sarah B | 2:11 PM | 11-16-2007

There are several wonderful clips produced by Sesame Street in the 1970s that my 2-year-old absolutely loves. We watch them on YouTube often. For example, "3 Striped Balls and Polka Dot Ball" keeps his attention as the little balls learn to accept a new and different member into their group. The "Baker's 10" teaches my child to count in a creative manner. My concern is that you have taken these skits out of context and forgotten what a wonderful program Sesame Street is for children. Kudos to the Children's Television Workshop!

Sent by Wendi Allan | 2:29 PM | 11-16-2007

Children (and adults, I bet) reach up or down to our expectations. If we say they don't have the attention span for it, then they won't develop it!

But now I have a song I wouldn't have thought in my head..."Hey COWWWW!! I see you now."

But I am glad that the grown-ups believe Big Bird about Mr. Snuffleupagus now. Phew!

Sent by Katie | 3:38 PM | 11-16-2007

As a teacher of preschool children, it saddens me that children these days cannot sit still for even six minutes. They want instant gratification, only a few of the children in my class would be interested in this video, sadly they prefer cartoons and computer games. Or toys that flash, talk, and move. Recently I took out a set of blocks for the children to build with, one of the children picked up the block and asked me "well, what does it do?" In regards to the warning label on the Sesame Street DVD's, I hope that the Bratz dolls come with a warning label stating that the young girls playing with them might begin to dress like them or have the tendency to become prostitutes. Can't we just go back to a simpler time??

Sent by Tracey | 9:31 PM | 11-20-2007

I loved the long video segments when I started watching Sesame Street in my early teens... but then again I used to get up at 6am to watch Modern Farmer when I was 5 or 6.

Sent by NotarySojac | 9:59 PM | 11-20-2007

Tina Fey mentioned this when she was on Conan earlier this year. It was a most delightful interview.

Sent by Joey Joe | 11:21 PM | 11-20-2007

The video lasts too long for most kids attention spans, it does not have rap music or computer graphics. Today's kids would hate it.

Sent by Mike G | 10:56 AM | 11-21-2007

My son was born in 1998, my daughter in 2001, neither of them were allowed to watch the new sesame street. Commercialized pap.

I like the nice slow cow movie, though I don't remember it from my childhood (I was born in '75)

Sent by Deni | 2:28 PM | 11-21-2007

Why not slow down and think about the cows for 6 minutes?

It's very limiting for kids to be exposed to only one style of filming and editing. I certainly don't think that films cut into lots of tiny split-second edits are any more interesting than those that contain lingering, thought-provoking shots. Is a Hollywood action film more interesting than an Ingmar Bergman film because it has faster edits?

Sent by Lola Rogers | 6:05 PM | 11-21-2007

While it's true that children's programming today is dumbed down and much faster paced, the warning which they put at the beginning of the DVD is clearly because of themes of homosexuality, smoking, social class, etc rather than pacing. They wouldn't put a warning on the DVDs saying it is for adults only just because of pacing. It's too bad everything has to be so neutral and safe now to the point that we can't even reflect our own society without having to worry about people freaking out.

Sent by Mike Young | 6:23 PM | 11-21-2007

This particular clip aside (which was quite slow but Sesame St grew in the following years) the rest of the reasons for the "adults only" label are in complete opposition to some of the fundamental purposes of Sesame St. Learning not just ABC 123 but tolerance, individuality, differences.... that's it's ok to be who you are. One article I read about it cited things that would not be shown today, like a "closeted gay couple sharing a basement apartment".. what would they do today, have them openly gay or just not have them as room mates? Who says they were gay? No one's heard of two guys sharing an apartment for expense reasons ( & having their girlfriends visit!). Please. And let's not show all aspects of socio-economic life because we are all the same, huh? Are we really striving to raise our children to view an unrealistic sanitized version of life? I hope not for our future's sake. My children watched SS religiously in the 80s & 90s, we went to the theatre to see Big Birds Adventure.... what a ridiculous & sad statement on our present culture that we have come to banning Sesame St!! Is Mr. Rogers next?

Sent by Susan O | 9:24 PM | 11-25-2007

The "Bert and Ernie are gay" thing drives me nuts. They were always meant to be a symbol of friendship between two polar-opposite personalities who can still get along. I saw Steve Whitmire, who performs Ernie, at the "Sesame Street Unpaved" traveling symposium a few years ago and a student asked him (and Ernie, who he was performing at the time) if "he" and Bert were gay. "Ernie" responded, 'Not that it would be a bad thing, but, no. We're not gay. We're puppets. We don't exist below the waist. Can we get over this now?"

Sent by Mike Watt | 10:49 AM | 11-26-2007

Bert and Ernie are the neil simon's odd couple, duh.

Sent by Katy Nesbitt | 9:23 PM | 11-27-2007

The six minute clip kept me facinated at 4 years old (1974. Could the slow pace possibly educate as well as calm children? Or is Ritalin preferred?

Sent by Jenn | 9:38 PM | 12-8-2007

From the early episodes I remember the underworld muppet dealer who walks around in darkened alleys trying to sell letters. He opened up his raincoat and said, "Pst, hey, you. Yeah, you. You wanna buy an 'a'?" Very 60/70s New York City - it was a truly scary place.

Sent by Bonnie | 10:55 AM | 12-24-2007

There also seems to have been a real arty/countercultural consciousness in the old Children's Television Workshop. It's as if the original creators wanted to use techniques developed in the psychedelic revolution to hardwire educational concepts into children's brains!

I was born the same year Sesame Street premiered and I watched it religiously throughout my childhood. Today, when I see those old-timey clips of the weird psychedelic counting and alphabet cartoons, it does seem to touch something deep within my psyche.

... And every time I see Elmo, it rapes my soul.

Sent by Brandon Burt | 5:04 AM | 12-30-2007

This is the Sesame Street I remember... Gentle and Sweet.. almost comforting... NOTHING like what my 3 year old see's... I loved "everybody sleeps" also... sigh

Sent by Lorrie | 8:43 PM | 1-29-2008

Children are the victims of our society today. Had we kept things like the vintage sesame street maybe we wouldn't have a bunch of messed up kids like we do today. They need the slow down time like this video and they just don't get it anymore these days...I shudder to think that maybe this is one of the reasons why we have so many ADD and ADHD kids now is because they have not been taught to slow down and think like we were growing up. This stuff needs to be brought back!!!!! And saying it isn't for children is just plain stupidity and neglect. HELLO????????

Sent by Amanda | 7:55 PM | 5-8-2008

oh yeah and i think the count was a scary vampire to i dont think he counted numbers in the erley episodes of sesame street and ernie and bert were gay lovers

Sent by barb | 3:01 PM | 6-8-2008