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Elmo's Popularity?

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by CourtneyDax, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. CourtneyDax

    CourtneyDax New Member

    So I'm new here so forgive me for asking this question but I'm seeing here that not a lot of people on here don't like Elmo. Personally, I love Elmo and his adorable (and sometimes outrageous) personality and having his Elmo's world segment was why I started watching Sesame Street (at least, for a little while, then I started enjoying the rest of the show as well).

    So I was wondering if everyone could give me your opinion on why or why not Elmo is a great character. Thank you!
  2. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Welcome. This is a good question. Yes, it's been talked about quite a bit here so my thoughts will be one other people have seen before but in a sense a lot of us have been waiting for someone like yourself to contribute to the discussion - Elmo has touched a lot of people and really connects with kids so we've been wanting someone who is part of that audience to join in and contribute those thoughts.

    I personally loved the character when it first started - in the 80's through the early 90's Kevin Clash came up with something very special - this sweet shy character with lots of energy filled with life and imagination. Elmo was a young enthusiastic character who got such a fun joy out of learning (and using) a "big word" like "important".

    Then throughout the 90's a combination of things happened that tended to influence the others. The Tickle Me Elmo craze, Elmo's overexposure on the show, and the character changing from this sweeter shier character to a more hyper arrogant one. Gone was his hint of a lisp and things like calling Kermit "Mr. Green Frog". Scripts for Elmo got more generic and so did Kevin's portrayal. Older fans of Sesame Street (both "Muppet fans" and general population) felt that Sesame Street was becoming "The Elmo Show" and that this newbie was "taking over the street" especially at the expense of older more classic characters (This was among the background of Jim Henson and Richard Hunt being gone...and their characters fading plus Frank Oz's limited availability. He hadn't yet semi-retired from Muppeteering but due to his directing career, all Muppet projects had to work around his hectic schedule which usually meant him being available to tape stuff for Sesame during a few days. There was also the "Around the Corner" experiment with Season 25 where they debuted a whole new area of the neighborhood with new buildings and characters - this was too overwhelming and was abandoned five years later.) Sesame Workshop/Children's Television Workshop wasn't helping matters by doing projects like "Elmo Saves Christmas", "Elmopalooza!", "Cinderelmo" and "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" which forced Elmo up front as the lead/titular character when Sesame had typically been an ensemble. Even the most casual observer could see that "Elmo" was becoming synonymous with "Sesame Street".

    Then the last straw for many was when it was announced that the last 1/3-1/4 of the show actually was indeed "being taken over by Elmo" with the addition of Elmo's World. This was a few years before the overall show became a block segment format and a five minute piece was considered "long". To add a part of the show that not only was between 15-19 minutes but also centered on one character ... one that was getting more and more overexposed and was becoming more a flat corporate icon as opposed to an endearing personality ... just "proved" that Elmo was "The Little Red Menace", "The Monster that Ate Sesame Street" and "The Death of the Show". It didn't help that not only was the last third of the show was "All Elmo All The Time" but that he still tended to largely dominate much of the "regular" show as well.

    Just like Elmo's rise in the 90's was taking place among the backdrop of the loss of older Muppeteers and overemphasis on new characters, so too does the changes happening with Sesame Street in the 2000's also need to be looked at in context with all that was going on with Elmo. Sesame Street as a production was skewing younger with its target audience being three and younger whereas its focus had previously been those up to age six (along with always trying to be appealing to the adults and older siblings watching with them to encourage children watching with their caregivers). The show had to sacrifice some of its quality and uniqueness in order to survive in a climate where cable and satellite television meant access to hundreds of channels and competition for ratings. Sesame was no longer the "go-to" show for children. They were one in a large and growing number of possibilities vieing for kids' attention. Whether fully justified or not, Elmo became the symbol, public face, and scapegoat of people's criticisms of Sesame Street and its changing in many ways not for the better.

    Kevin Clash does make a huge effort to reach children and establish a deep connection with them. He truly cares about them and is very sincere in his roles and responsibilities. The way children respond to this is very magical and Kevin's talents and understanding of his place as a child's hero should not be overlooked or underestimated. But due to a combination of writing and performance, Elmo has lost a lot of the things that made him so endearing and unique in the beginning and has become more of a generic bland "everyMuppet". I do think that as much of Sesame's cast and crew have been engaging in a lot of retrospection with the 40th anniversary, Kevin seems to have sometime recently become a bit more aware of how the character of Elmo has gotten away from its roots and i've noticed that he's started to embue more of his recent performances with elements of "classic Elmo" and he's become easier and more fun to watch the last two seasons.
  3. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    In a nutshell:

    1969-1984 = Sesame Street was this great, popular experiment in television. There were a wide variety of fun characters. Elmo was only an extra back then.

    1985-1990 = Elmo was fun, furry, red and having Jim Henson around helped reign him. Sesame Street was expansive in terms of format and characters.

    1990-1995 = Elmo slowly began to eat up more and more screen time. Sesame Street became less of an ensemble. Barney became popular and instead of Sesame setting trends, the leadership decided to follow them and gutted much of what made Sesame Street special.

    1996 = Tickle Me Elmo dolls made him a break-out star.

    1998 = Elmo's World took over half of Sesame Street.

    = Elmo dominated absolutely the program, not only Elmo's World. Sesame Street became Elmo and Friends.

    Present Day = They seem to be dialing back Elmo a little bit, but have also created Abby. However, more of the other classic characters are gaining screen time in this anniversary year. I hope they keep it up.

    Sesame Street should belong to no single Muppet. Elmo is great off-the-cuff in interview situations and that's the only way I enjoy him. I didn't grow up under his popularity so there's very little connection.

    Sesame Street is first and foremost for educating kids. Sharing should be a part of that education. There's also been way too much Politically Correct sanitizing of Sesame Street. That's dulled a lot of its spark. It would be great if that PTA mother mentality would take a year off and SW would just allow the puppeteers and writers to get back to Sesame's roots.

    That's just my opinion. Elmo isn't evil, just overexposed.
    :search: :batty: :insatiable:
  4. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    I like Elmo a lot, but I agree he's been overexposed... and no, not just because he's one of the many naked Muppets. "'scuse Elmo!"

    I think that when Kevin Clash first started with Elmo, perhaps the first ten years or so, he was a great character, as dw brought out. To me, the absolute best part of Luis and Maria's wedding is Elmo's adorable (and hilarious) line, "Don't drop the rings, Elmo! Please, Elmo, don't drop the rings!"

    But I really think Sesame Street should be an ensemble piece as well. I'm just about 23, so I grew up during the "transitional years" (that is, the years just prior and just after Jim's death and the rise in Elmo's popularity), but the show was still using the "Laugh In" style, so characters other than Elmo were always abundant. I like Elmo's World, on occasion, but I think it would be so much better if it were a shorter segment that popped up in the show the same as, perhaps, Ernie and Bert's apartment sketches. I don't like Abby's Fairy School at all, but that may be because of the length as well.

    I think that's my only problem with Elmo. The over-exposure. He's hilarious in live appearances, though I do miss his more innocent self.

    Anyway, to me, the best characters will always be Ernie and Grover. I always love seeing an Ernie and Bert sketch, Grover songs make me melt, and Grover/Kermit sketches are the best, to me. Again, I think Elmo's World could have been a lot better if it were done in that same, shorter format.
    :p :super: :)
    (Soooooo copying Jamie's smiley ending)​
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? O.O
    Yeah, that made me crack up when I watched that.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Well put. You see, I don't hate the character himself, just what happened with him. There's a lot that has been said that I'd just be reiterating, but it also has to do with the rise of weaker, dumber kid's programming that not only talks down to kids, but treats them like idiots, trying to pretend they're playing a voice recognition video game instead of watching a TV show. What's it to say when I can't even complain about Barney anymore when Dora, Super Why (I hate that show with a passion, hence why I rant about it so much), and the like are stinking up the airwaves.

    The fact of the matter is SS HAS to keep this kinda of semi-one character focus to keep the show going, and being canceled for yet another bad CGI show where the characters yell slowly at kids and have about 2 years of popularity to them. Elmo's World was a sign that the show was hurting at the hands of Nick Jr's line up (don't tell me that EW doesn't have elements of Blues Clues), and the TMX craze and 15 minutes of the show going to Elmo was basically the only thing to keep it in focus.

    You see, the worst of the problem is that nowadays, SS NEEDS Elmo. They need to shove him onto every talk listen connect video, every plush figure... all of that stuff. It's the only way they think they can stay culturally relevant. I blame the Barney module of Education, having one centralized character who's just worshiped as a deity and has sidekicks, instead of sharing the spotlight with many other characters. Sure, a lot of SS characters were popular and had lines of merchandise and books (Grover seemed to be VERY big at times), but they still shared the show with everyone from Bert and Ernie to Sherlock Hemlock. These days, you consider yourself lucky to see Big Bird and Snuffy.

    It's all about the annoying change in the demographic. SS started out as a show for pre-schoolers... kids as young as 4 to maybe even as old as 8 at the latest. Now even 4 year olds are too old to watch SS, and kids are rushed into preschools and stuff like that by overzealous parents that want the best for themselves and maybe their child. So SS became a show for 2 year olds (when we all know that kids that young may not imprint on anything that's on TV) and a 3 year old, whom they relate to, became the every Muppet of the show. SS even tried to move away from that, even experimenting with taking away Elmo's World, but it bit them in the butt when kids were fidgeting and whining that Elmo's 15 minutes of birthday cakes was missing for one day.

    And above all, YES... his personality died with the rise of his popularity. Some episodes he seems thrown into and doesn't even offer any cleverness or usefulness to it. Sure, the Rickey Gervais number was the only real time we get to see the real, emoting, actual personality having Elmo, when we usually just have smile and wave and make us money Elmo. I want to see Elmo AS Elmo, and not as some lame product placement. And we're just not getting enough of the former.
  7. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict Well-Known Member

    I don't wanna sound to agremenetive and you're probably right in many ways but I doubt anyone 8 was ever considered the target age. I even went to pre-school and I'm 37.
  8. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Actually, yeah... I take that back. 8 is pushing it when it comes to the original demographic. 6 at the very VERY very highest is a more accurate estimate. Certainly 4 and 5 year olds were the intended target.

    But now, Preschool is easier to access, and the focus became preparing for preschool... so we have a younger demo and with it a younger focus. not that there's anything wrong with it, but I think they can manage without having Elmo screaming every 5 minutes.
  9. Krazedmuppet

    Krazedmuppet Well-Known Member

    Just out of curriosity, how old are you? Im not judging or anything, but I just what to see where you are comming from in your comment- either your older and never grew up with the show (hence you saying that you started enjoying SS after you watched Elmo's world) or your younger and were in the age group of Elmo. OR your like some of my friends and some how you missed this on TV as a kid (having parents who made you go outside and such lol)

    Either way, I think everyone has the right to like or dislike what ever they want. I am 24 and grew up with SS, and even though I was on the very end of an Elmo free SS, thats the way I most remember it. I dont like Elmo, but I dont mind him- I just think its wrong they gave him 1/2 an hour of a hour show. SS is about community and excepting people for who they are and how it takes a community to raise a child. Elmos world is about him and only him. Thats my problem with him.
  10. Krazedmuppet

    Krazedmuppet Well-Known Member

  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I just have a problem with the concept of EW on the whole. Would we have the same problem id it was any other character? I would... even if it was Grover or Bert.

    I really do enjoy things like Abby's Fairy School, Murray had a Little Lamb, Global Grover. Stuff that do have a mild repetition, but manage to put plot and originality in every single episode. EW has the mentality that kids need an insane amount of repetition over and over. Something to set your watch by. And not only is it painful to watch at times, but it really has too many redundant segments. I still say cut Noodle's capering in half, get rid of the "How do you?" segment entirely and the counting thing (which is completely useless... and amongst the other things, that's saying something) and shortening the filmed kid example and you shave a good 5 minutes off a 15 minute segment.

    Or better yet, Junk EW, replace it with a new Elmo segment that's much shorter and kids won't whine that Elmo isn't on specifically at the show's 3/4 run time. I'm pretty much against the lame segmenting, segregating, and structuring the show... something they actually were trying to get away from before season 40. The whole "Kids need schedules" thing sounds like rubbish, and it seems we're making a generation of kids like a grouchy old men who complain for hours on end if their dinner and pills is a minute late. Kids need structure, that's true... but they also need some spontaneity. But if they NEED to keep that annoying Rainman-esque structure stuff, junk EW, and put in a segment with Elmo doing something interesting.
  12. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Full disclosure - I have primarily enjoyed the Muppets of Sesame Street. While I appreciate the live action cast, animation and live action segments, those never connected with me as a kid. They still don't. The humans of Sesame are only as interesting as the Muppet messing with them. So, when you have so many scenes with the lobotomized version of Elmo...well, nothing's really that funny or entertaining.

    I really think they should let the puppeteers run wild for just a season. Toss the politically correct staff members to the curb. Frank is right.
  13. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think the P.C.-ness is only a small part of it. Right now, it's the only thing that gives it an edge. I swear the time will come when the Dora model is discredited and we'll see a resurgence of kid's shows that are actually fun to watch for any age. I mean, we have great stuff like Martha Speaks, Curious George... I'm hearing positive things about Wubzy.... it's only a matter of time when someone says, "Where's the wacky?" and Elmo actually does something besides wave his arms up and down and say "Sesame Workshop Needs Money! Buy all the Elmo dolls you can! PBS is being mean to Elmo and only funding boring British crime shows!"

    Really... rewatch Celebrity Lullaby. The potential is there, but it's more often than not untapped.
  14. CourtneyDax

    CourtneyDax New Member

    I'm 16 years old right now. I never was a SS fan when I was a kid. My parents only showed me Barney, pretty much. I think it was a few years ago (like, two years maybe?) that I started watching SS. My mom does a pretty good Elmo impression so we were were going to write him into this show we were doing (its a long story-short thing) and so I DVR'd a lot of SS shows that only had Elmo in them. I realized how much I was enjoying watching Elmo's World and all of his segments, so I just kept DVRing them all. I think my favorite segment that got me hooked was "Meal or No Meal" and it ended with the Cookie Monster destroying everything. I laughed so much!
  15. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    I hadn't seen this yet. That's hilarious!

    THIS is when I like Elmo.

    :halo: Elminal smiley
  16. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Well-Known Member

    I like Elmo, like everyone else here has said, there's just too much of him. Kevin is one of the greatest Muppeteers of all time, and like someone posted earlier, he's great off the cuff adlibbing. I think it's just a natural tendency to reject cuteness when it's laid on so thick, even when it's genuine.

    I think Barney contributed to that a lot and gave Sesame Street a real taste of competition, so Elmo had to overcompensate for the street, just to take out rivals like Barney and the Teletubbies.

    People may not be crazy about the furry little red monster... but he won.
  17. Super Scooter

    Super Scooter Well-Known Member

    Personally, I don't understand how Barney benefitted anyone. It treats kids like they're idiots, even the ten year old cast members! I hated the show even when I was young enough to like the show. It shouldn't have been competition for Sesame Street at all.
  18. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That's the main problem. I really tend to think Barney was the first horseman of the Children's TV Apocalypse (Teletubbies and Dora being the other 2... may we never meet the fourth one). I have to admit, when my sister was born and really young, Barney came to TV and I didn't hate him... but after a while, you see what the show is REALLY about... SS is all about a neighborhood with wacky characters who all come together and get along, and teach each other lessons, all while having fun. Barney is about kids who are so obsessed with an imaginary dreamworld figure, they stay after school and worship a large purple god.

    SS is a street. Barney is a cult. And unfortunately, EW takes Elmo to the borderline cult-ness that Barney had. Honestly, I could go on forEVER about how I think Barney screwed up Sesame Street (The fact they're a clean suburban schoolhouse which doesn't even exist in lowerclass neighborhoods alone.)
  19. Krazedmuppet

    Krazedmuppet Well-Known Member

    I agree and think the same thing. I would dislike any character who would get a spot like that, except MAYBE Big Bird, but Ive always seen him as a fair leader, and would never make a show about just him :) but he would deserve it more than Elmo! :wisdom:
  20. Krazedmuppet

    Krazedmuppet Well-Known Member

    BOOBAH! AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! the apocalypse has started.... I rather watch Tellytubbies and Barny in a row...

    what do you think of Yo Gabba Gabba? I dont know if I like it or not, but this song is just funny and catchy...


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