It’s not uncommon for me to spend a morning watching children’s programming. In fact, given how early I’ve been waking up lately, it’s become the norm.
The past few weeks Aaron has been waking up earlier and earlier, which means (of course) that he falls asleep earlier and earlier. This creates a dilemma for a night owl such as myself, since on an average night I pass out anywhere between midnight and three in the morning. In an effort to save my marriage I am trying not only to change a sleep schedule I’ve had established for years, but also my TV viewing habits as well.
Barring notable exceptions such as 9/11 or a Rocky and Bullwinkle marathon, there have been few occasions worth getting out of bed and watching television for. Morning news is usually generic fluff pieces poorly disguised as information, and everything else on the dial is a joke.
I have fallen out of love with the various syndicated shows that litter morning TV schedules. If you see one episode of ‘People’s Court’ you’ve seen them all, and I can’t bring myself to watch trash like ‘Cheaters’ or ‘Eye for an Eye.’
With nowhere else to turn, I reluctantly turned towards children’s programming to keep me engaged during the early morning hours. It had been quite a while since I’ve watched Nick Jr., and for good reason. Aside from the obvious age difference, I feel like their programming panders to the audience, rather than make any attempt to educate. Mind you this isn’t any different than adult programming, but there should be some responsibility to teach America’s children more than the Spanish word for ‘backpack.’
Fortunately, there was one venue I know I could rely on. Sesame Street basically rebuilt children’s programming from the ground up decades ago, so if anyone would stand a pillar of quality education it would be them.
What I actually saw bothered me quite a bit.
For those unfamiliar with the delicate format of a Sesame Street episode, each features a specific theme, be it ‘dogs’ or ‘school’ or ‘cookies.’ This theme is explored throughout the hour-long program, educating the viewer about the topic through various sketches, cartoons and songs. Today, I learned, the theme was ‘Agendas of the Left Wing.’
The first segment I watched seemed harmless enough. Elmo was walking around Central Park and talking to people about families. A video montage followed, showing various types of family, and establishing early on in the viewer’s developmental cycle that unconventional family models were just as ‘normal’ ones. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, cousins: virtually every type of family model was shown, including those featuring two moms and two dads.
‘Eh?’ I thought to myself, ‘Did Sesame Street just feature multiple sets of gay families in a video montage?’ I thought I must have been mistaken.
As a homosexual I have no problem with this, but as a amateur media watchdog, I do take concern with the statement this makes. Considering that Sesame Street receives a substantial amount of its’ operating budget from federal funding, does doing such a thing create some kind of paradox?
Being a member of the highly sought after 18-34 white male demographic, I suspect that my personal boycott of Sesame Street may force the show into cancellation, but they deserve it. Snuffaluffagus, you’ve violated my trust for the last time!
At least when I watch The View I know what to expect from Rosie O’ Donnell.
*Despite his weak interviews, I’d still rather have Elmo host the evening news than Katie Couric.