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Has Big Bird lost his appeal?

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by SSLFan, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    Yeah...this subject has been brought up a few times before, and I'm pretty sure someone is reading this and saying, "not this again. . .", LOL. But, is it possible that a muppet can lose their appeal to children after so many years? I mean, Bird was a beloved muppet for over 30 years of the show, and within the last 10 or so, he has been used less and less, that being obvious definately in Season 38. Not to get all personal, but to me he was (and still is) the face of Sesame Street.* It's pretty difficult to imagine that the one thing that help make you is the one thing you are starting to phase out more.
    But, the question remains the same. Can a muppet lose it's appeal overtime? Or gain it back after it was lost for so many years? When I think of this, a prime example for me would be...someone may shoot me for this, since A LOT of people love him...Grover.
    Someone may not agree with what I'm about to say, but it seemed like Grover popularity slumped in the 1990's, with Elmo popularity blooming, it seemed like there weren't enough cute and furry monsters to go around, lol. But since Eric has taken over as Grover, it's like a whole new generation of children are loving him again(not saying they weren't before of course). It's safe to say that Eric breathed new life into the character, sorta speak.
    But something had caught my attention today when I was in a party store. They had SS beanie dolls of Elmo & Big Bird and only 1 Elmo was left and a ton of BB'S! Ok, yeah Elmo is the megastar of SS, but c'mon! It seemed like NONE of the BB's got sold. No wonder you hardly see any BB merchandise anymore, it hardly sells(unless it's packaged with something that involves Elmo).
    So, does anyone of todays SS genertion like the character? The only muppets you see a lot are Elmo & Cookie Monster (well, that is one classic muppet out of the deal). Others pretty much seem shunned to me. So, can a character lose it's apeal and/or gain it back? Your thoughts?



    * = though many fans seem to agree that there was no "star" of the show, and it was an ensemble cast.
  2. Muppet Newsgirl

    Muppet Newsgirl Active Member

    Oh, I wouldn't say that - at the Fourth of July parade here, toward the end there were some people dressed as Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster. And almost immediately, the kids began swarming around Big Bird and Cookie Monster - not so much for Elmo, actually.
  3. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Obviously Elmo has been very popular, but at the same time the media tends to make sweeping judgements. There are still plenty of kids who like all the rest of the Sesame Street characters, they're just not given the attention.

    And if there are viewers who have moved away from liking a classic and valuable character like Big Bird, then I'm with Jon Stone, they don't deserve him! ;)
  4. MuppetMazz

    MuppetMazz Member

    Big Bird is super popular at Sesame Place in PA. He holds court at the character meals and is always swarmed and he draws big cheers at the parade. Although I do agree that Big Bird isn't QUITE as popular as he was when we were younger and Elmo has taken his place, I do think he still has a special place in kids' hearts. My son absolutely LOVES him!
  5. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Big Bird merchandise doesn't resemble the character as much as the others. He's harder to capture. That could be why. :wisdom:
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    His merchandise NEVER resembled the character... it always looked like a big fuzzy lollipop with a beak. Except, maybe the figurines. Even then, they all neglect the white wisp of feathers just above the eyes. It's a shame the Palisades Big Bird was never made. Would have been the ONLY toy with enough detail to actually acknowledge that.

    Anyway....

    Exactly... I don't see him lack the focus he usually has. Big Bird is still synonymous with Sesame Street... the problem is Elmo is too. And Elmo Merchandise is just easier to make and market... and for some reason, kids need a Rainman-like obsessive compulsive routine (something I think will just breed obsessive compulsiveness in children) so the Elmo segment has to stay (even though the producers were even trying to phase him out).

    But I am seeing, at least merchandise wise, a big shift back to Big Bird, Oscar, Bert, Grover... characters they seem to have been neglecting for a while. Fisher Price even had a singing pair of Snuffy and Big Bird plush last year.

    The problem is the show itself has less Big Bird than ever before... but that's because there's less Muppet segments than ever before. We have one insert, the opening storyline, Elmo's World, and the number and letter of the day intros. Remember, years ago, the rigid structure didn't exist, and we saw ALL the main characters, if not most of them, every episode in the form of all those different segments and songs that just don't exist in the time frame anymore. Season 37 was the time I saw the LEAST amount of Muppet segments.

    But lest we forget, the segment they created to focus on Big Bird, Journey to Ernie, has since been dissolved a couple years back.
  7. eday2010

    eday2010 New Member

    I'd say it has more to do with Caroll Spinney getting older than Big Bird's appeal to young children. The man can't stay young forever.
  8. StreetScenes

    StreetScenes Member

    i can't speak for today's tots, but i don't see big bird lacking in merchandise. it's just not overwhelmingly big bird-centered merchandise like it was back in the day (just try finding non-bird sesame street stuff from the '80s...).

    but i bet that it wasn't popularity with the kids that made elmo begin to overshadow big bird in merchandise and screen time. not that kids don't like elmo, but they seem to like all the characters once (if) they get to know them. parents buy the toys. young kids like stuff they're familiar with, and are particularly receptive to stuff their parents hype up for them encourage them to play with. for some reason, a certain generation of teenagers and young parents of the 90s seem to like elmo's excessive cuteness, perhaps from pseudo-nostalgia or a false sense of the narrowness of what their own kids might be open to if they were simply exposed to it. the parents push elmo on the kids, the kids become more familiar with elmo & associate him with their plush dolls and their parents' trying to entertain them, so elmo tests well in ss research, elmo gets more segments, elmo gets yet more merchandise...
  9. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Well I do think parents are a little too eager to follow the trends, or what's expected sometimes. Then they wonder why their kids don't think for themselves later in life.

    And no, I'm not saying buying an Elmo doll leads to delinquency. ;) Just saying parents don't always realize the lesson they're teaching when they get so rapped up in society's hype.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    That's possibly a reason. I guess that's why you see him perform Oscar on a more frequent basis... no large suit. But then again, Matt could perform the suit and Carol can just loop dialogue or something too. We can't rule that theory out, though.
  11. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    But I thought he said playing Oscar was more physically demanding.
  12. MuppetMazz

    MuppetMazz Member

    My guess on the less BB screentime is related to Carroll Spinney. I think he just has less ability to keep wearing that huge heavy Bird puppet. I am wondering if we are seeing him phased out of the limelight a bit to prepare for a full transition to another puppeteer and BB re-emergence as a star.
  13. SSLFan

    SSLFan Well-Known Member

    Yeah, i had always found that to be the reason too. But, that's what we have Matt Vogel for...

    Exactly. There's really no excuse for BB lacking screentime when Mr. Spinney has a fill in if he's unable to do BB. And like you said, he could always loop the dialouge, like he did in Elmo's Christmas Countdown, for example.

    I hope so. And I hope that re-emergence comes soon!
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I'd say it's more cumbersome than heavy... there are a lot of larger items that don't weigh that much, but are still hard to get a grip on because they're awkward to hold and carry....

    I still think it has a lot to do with the writers and the lack of muppet skits.
  15. MuppetMazz

    MuppetMazz Member

    I actually heard that it was heavy and that was a big factor for him not being able to film a lot consecutively. In addition to all the feathers, the "skin", the head, there is all of the video equipment inside that allows him to see himself on stage. He's 76 years old. Even though he looks great and sounds great, he's gotta be slowing down a bit.
  16. LamangoNumber2

    LamangoNumber2 Active Member

    Plus, the beak is made of Fiber glass... Adds more weight to the head...
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Heh... I guess you're right. It must be one of those things that seems like no big deal when you're younger... but the older you get it actually DOES become a big deal.

    But then again, we have a willing puppeteer to continue the role as well, Matt Vogel, so if it does get too hard for Carol, Matt can do it. So, while I can't discount that, it seems to be something else.

    I wonder if the writers just find it easier writing for everyone but Big Bird.....
  18. Would any of Caroll's children, all grown-up of course, be willing to try to audition as Big Bird and/or Oscar the Grouch, if Spinney should ever pass away? That is, if any of his three children are male.

    And, BTW, what are the names of his three children (this part goes out to all you Caroll Spinney experts out there)?

    ~Ben
  19. mikebennidict

    mikebennidict New Member

    Are any of them in the puppettry bussiness like Jim's kids?
  20. That's what I am trying to ask you and other Sesame Street/Muppets/Caroll Spinney fans out here and there.

    ~Ben


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