Archives for August 2015

Gentrifying Sesame Street

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 5.53.53 PMSome news stories are hard to joke about, like the explosions in China or the ongoing tensions in Ferguson, Missouri. Others, like the one this week that proto-kids’ show Sesame Street is moving to premium cable network HBO, are easy.

This week’s episode brought to you by the letters H, B, and O! You know nothing, Elmo! Or my favorite:


If you listen hard enough, you can almost hear all the people out there furiously trying to finish their Game of Thrones video mashup where they dub an alphabet lesson over one of the show’s famous ‘sexposition’ scenes.

A lot of people don’t seem to see it as a laughing matter, however. My social feeds are full of Class Warriors complaining that this move is emblematic of the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots, and that it’s hitting the kids who need Sesame Street the most, underprivileged kids — the very kids it was invented for — the hardest. A few quotes from the comments section under the New York Times article on the deal:

Must be true. Everyone and everything has a price. Once again OUR public dollars created Sesame Street and now the privateers are taking it over for personal gain. Welcome to 3rd world America where only the financial elite reap the benefits of society and government and the rest of us get the throwaways WE paid for with OUR consumer, 401k and tax dollars.. HBO will probably get the OUR government money to produce “children’s learning television”. What a joke. It’s getting harder and harder to love America – land taken over by insatiable greed with zero social conscience.

So I guess the options for my kids are:
1. I fork over $180 per year for an HBO subscription that I don’t need for anything else nor do I want my children to have access to for the largely explicit material shown on this channel. Or,
2. They watch a total of 4 re-hashed episodes on PBSkids since the shows won’t be available on Amazon or Netflix (I have subscriptions).
If I end up paying HBO, I guess PBS can kiss goodbye my contributions. If that’s the way others think, PBS will might no longer exist. I’m certainly not going to contribute in order to watch Downton Abbey.

Now that it’s on HBO, can the violence, profanity and nudity be far behind? (Though I guess most of the Muppets are already nude.)

Everybody calm down. Though it is a little depressing that PBS can’t afford to pay Big Bird’s salary all by itself, that’s been the case for quite a while. Sesame Street has been producing fewer and fewer episodes — before this deal, they were making 18 a year — and continued budget cuts from the federal government forced the show to rely on DVD sales for the lion’s (or the Snuffleuppagus’) share of its funding, and the streaming video revolution has parked that revenue stream right next to Oscar the Grouch.

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Donald Trump Is Already In Charge


As everyone expected, the first of the 275 scheduled debates between Republican presidential candidates was a bit of a shitshow. Eager to come out swinging, to make an impression, and to out-conservative each other, several hopefuls staked out alarmingly extreme positions: Marco Rubio said he opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. Jeb Bush promised 4% growth (actually, Sustained Positive Economic Growth, a phrase he repeated several times) for every year of his presidency. Mike Huckabee proposed a consumption tax so we can finally make poor people pay their fair share. Most extreme of all, John Kasich suggested that we accept gay people for who they are.

But predictably, it’s sentient Internet comment Donald Trump who walked away with all the headlines, because Fox News anchorbot Megyn Kelly challenged him on his history of sexist statements:

Trump got snippy with Kelly during the debate, and then spent the rest of the night tweeting shit at her; then, in a phone interview with CNN, Trump suggested that she had pressed him on his ungallant statements not because they suggest an alarmingly retrograde if not outright misogynist disposition, but because she was on her period.

Because American news media is apparently unable to focus on more than one aspect of anything at a time, this became the one and only story coming out of the debate. That is unfortunate, because in addition to burnishing his reputation as a world-class shithead, Trump made the truest, most revealing statement I’ve ever heard in a political debate. (Close second: when Huckabee declared that the U.S. military’s mission is to “kill people and break things.”)

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