The Kermit I see is sensitive, silly and sweet. He sings with abandon, despite not having an auto-tuned perfect voice. He talks about his feelings, and friends, and rainbows. Jim Henson created Kermit in the Free To Be You and Me-fueled culture of the '70s, when people were itching for different role models for kids—ones that didn't play into the tired gender stereotypes of previous decades. As a mother of a son? I totally appreciate that. Kermit is a relatable character that my son can look up to.
As Sesame Street turns 40, the media is brimming with think pieces about the groundbreaking show. From its educational impact to its unprecedented portrayal of racially diverse urban life, the show changed the face of not just children's TV, but the medium of television in general.
There's a lot to talk about when we talk about Sesame Street, and people are doing just that. Time magazine postulated that Barack Obama is the first "Sesame Street president," writing that "The Obama presidency is a wholly American fusion of optimism, enterprise and earnestness — rather like the far-fetched proposal of 40 years ago to create a TV show that would prove that educational television need not be an oxymoron." (The show's creator, Joan Ganz Cooney, is happy to support this theory, saying "I like to think that we had something to do with Obama's election). NewsweekponderedSesame Street's global reach, reporting that among the world's Sesame-friendly regions are Kosovo and the Palestinian territories; the South African SS features an HIV-positive character. And New York magazine revealed that 75-year-old Carroll Spinney, who has played Big Bird for all 40 seasons, spends his days with one arm raised above his head, manipulating the puppet's eyes and beak and not even once grumbling that he could be playing shuffleboard on a Carnival cruise ship.
And then there are the videos -- like "Women Can Be," a hilarious feminist ode to the world of beyond-nurses-and-ballerinas careers that I was reminded of this morning, courtesy of my friend Tina. (Rita Moreno, voicing the surgeon, is especially awesome.)