What Will Happen to Sesame Street Without Elmo?
Most Beloved Muppet
Ask any adult or child who their favorite muppet is and the majority will choose that furry red monster who always speaks of himself in the third person. From his laugh to his iconic phrase, "Elmo loves you!" there's no denying who the current star of Sesame Street is.
"Being Elmo" movie trailer
The Man Behind the Puppet
Not much is said about the actors who play the characters of PBS' hit show Sesame Street. But about a year ago, my kids and I were browsing Netflix and we stumbled upon a documentary on Kevin Clash. We weren't doing anything that afternoon so I sat and watched. (To the right I've posted the trailer for this movie.)
The piece is called "Being Elmo" and it traces the story of a poor, black child named Kevin Clash who had this uncanny passion for puppets. I was drawn to his story of perseverance and courage as he followed his dream even amidst teasing from peers. How many teenagers have you know who make their own puppets? Kevin did. With each new puppet, he developed a different voice and story. Needless to say, this movie is quite heartwarming.
According to news reports, Kevin Clash is accused of having inappropriate relationships with at least 2 men, both of whom were under 18 at the time of the supposed affair. So on November 20, 2012, Clash decided to resign in the face of impending legal battles. Obviously, this is not the kind of publicity the creators of Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop, are interested in and Clash feels that "Personal matters have diverted attention away from the important work Sesame Street is doing, and I cannot allow it to go on any longer."
What Will Happen to Sesame Street
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Hasbro will continue to make Elmo toys. This is good news for the wildly popular character who can be found on everything from videos to clothes to toys. Myself, I've been trying to decide if Elmo products are about to become the next hot thing on Ebay. I haven't been able to read public sentiments on the whole thing. It seems most are waiting for more information to come out.
What does the future look like for Sesame Street? It appears no answer has been made yet. In their November 20th blog, this is what they wrote..."Sesame Workshop’s mission is to harness the educational power of media to help all children the world over reach their highest potential. Kevin Clash has helped us achieve that mission for 28 years, and none of us, especially Kevin, want anything to divert our attention from our focus on serving as a leading educational organization. Unfortunately, the controversy surrounding Kevin’s personal life has become a distraction that none of us wants, and he has concluded that he can no longer be effective in his job and has resigned from Sesame Street. This is a sad day for Sesame Street."
While PBS funding might be safe now that Obama got re-elected to the White House, don't go celebrating just yet. A Sesame Street without Elmo will mean drastic changes to the show's writing and story line. The jury will be out to see if the public will go along with it. As an adult who grew up with my friends on Sesame Street, I hope they can.
And to Kevin Clash, I pray these allegation are just that, allegations. You have delighted us with your lovable character for so many years. Thank you for 28 years of loving us!