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  2. Sesame Street Season 49
    Sesame Street's 49th season officially began Saturday November 17 on HBO. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

How can someone hate Elmo?

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by JustinHoskie, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. JustinHoskie

    JustinHoskie Active Member

    I've never quite understood the backlash against Elmo, though that may be because I watched the show after he was introduced. I understand he can be a bit hyper/ADD-ish, but I have seen plenty of kids like that.

    So, why do you love or hate this cute little monster?

    And please be civil.
  2. Gonzo14

    Gonzo14 Well-Known Member

    Well I can explain my own opinions, but they're just my own.

    I do not hate Elmo, I actually think he's a great character, although most people who have heard my opinions think that I do.

    I just don't like how Sesame Street seems to have become "the Elmo Show". Sesame Street was originally an ensemble show. Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Bert, Ernie, The Count, Oscar, Grover, etc were all equal stars and loved by everyone.

    Elmo has been so pushed to the front so much that everyone else has been effectively down-graded, which is where the backlash comes in.

    One example of this would be when they came out with the anniversary version of the 1985 movie "Follow That Bird" While Big Bird was featured most prominently, Elmo is shown on the cover along with The Count and Cookie Monster. The problem with this is that unlike The Count or Cookie, Elmo is only in this movie for approximately 2 seconds in a silent cameo where he sticks his head out the window, yet he's on the cover.

    People wouldn't have so many negative things to say about Elmo if he were joining the more prominant characters instead of overshadowing him

    I hope that answers your question.
  3. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Simply put, he takes the blame for the show's complete shift in demographics, even though it's a result for the huge spiral downward pre-schooler programming took the 90's.

    Personally, we should stop being so nasty to little Elmo, and focus all our hate back onto

    Because that show shook the preschool TV scene up so badly, Sesame Street had to struggle to keep up, even though they were on the same network anyway. Basically, that purple tumor caused such a dimensional tear in kids programming that we've been on a steady decline since... which of course lead to the faux-interactive show where the characters ask the audience for help in a talk down to, condescending, slow voice. Which thankfully we're moving away from. Also, while Sesame Street was a community based program (the focus was always more on the group, rather than the individual), Barney was quite the opposite. He transcended being the star of the show and became a cult leader. Everything had to be done for Barney... the kids stayed after school to play with Barney, they sat around waiting to do what he wanted to do... there's just so much there that I can say is the dark antithesis of Sesame Street.

    So basically, Elmo's popularity sort of stemmed from the Barney factor... the one huge star who everyone has to revolve around. Just not to his extent. Plus, that toy came out.

    And above all... even without the Purple Menace, Sesame Street was hurting... Jim passed on, Richard passed on... they lost a lot of people in a single period. They didn't recast anyone quite yet (Ernie was recast in 1992, correct)... and while they had enough older material for some time, new material couldn't happen until they created new characters and increased roles for certain existing characters. And when some of the new characters failed to catch on, the pre-existing ones took those roles... leading not only to the rise of Elmo, but Baby Bear, Zoe and Rosita.
  4. Cindy

    Cindy Moderator Staff Member

    I would have to agree with Drtooth and Gonzo14. I have no problems with Elmo, he's cute, furry and sweet. I love that Kevin has developed his character into something that pre-schoolers definitely identify with. It warms my heart when I see a 3 year old go ga-ga over something Elmo. Kudos to Kevin and Sesame Street for finding something profitable and keeping Sesame Street alive.

    And yet the growing popularity of Elmo meant that many of the beloved characters of the 70's and 80's took a back seat. And it's not as though Bert, Ernie, Big Bird, Oscar, etc were inferior characters, kids just wanted to see more Elmo. And thanks to other successful pre-school shows (I won't even say that purple thing's name), Sesame Street was forced to adapt. For me as a Muppet fan and child of the 70's it's bittersweet to see Sesame Street find success in something I didn't identify with as a child, and yet because of that success they are still around for my children watch and love like I did.
  5. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I don't hate Elmo, I just find him...well, uninteresting in small doses and exasperating in larger doses. He's not the kind of character I would have liked when I was a little kid because I never was into babyish characters; I felt that that kind of programming was condescending long before I knew what "condescending" meant. That he's eclipsed the characters I have such fond memories of--Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, and them folks--makes me a little sad. But I don't watch Sesame Street anymore, so I won't worry about it too much.

    I did actively hate Elmo for one night. I was sleeping in my niece's room, and she had a talking Elmo doll. I think it was supposed to go off when it sensed motion nearby, but that doll kept yelling at random all...freakin'...night. Face it to the wall, put it in a box, cover it up, it made no difference, he just kept yammering. I finally crammed him in the closet to deaden the din. By that morning I would happily have taken a seam ripper to that puppet.
    ConsummateVs likes this.
  6. Cindy

    Cindy Moderator Staff Member

    That made me LOL! I think you have just discovered the next horror movie plot.

    FYI, I just happen to have a certain 3 year old holding his giant Elmo while watching Sesame Street. What's not to love about that?
  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Elmo's a great character if he's treated as one. When he just stands there and talks to the audience with no conflict, he's basically just a host. But there's a LOT of times when they do his character justice... Elmo Saves Christmas, Elmo in Grouchland... virtually any episode where Zoe has her pet rock, Rocko. Even very early sketches when Elmo was more of a 3 year old monster than a 3 year old that happens to be a monster. He shouted a lot, and in Monster Hits, he was quite annoying for the other monsters with hilarious results.

    The problem is simple... When Sesame Street started, Big Bird (let's say somewhere between 4-6) was the target audience and the target audience's sympathetic character. Now, Sesame Street's more for 3 year olds... Elmo's a 3 year old, kids sympathize with him more.

    Of course, recasting Grover and Cookie Monster helped BIG time. Cookie is still pretty popular (though he didn't appear in the show that much this season). Only thing that bugs me is that Ernie and Bert only exist as the claymation version that doesn't even get shown in every episode.
    ConsummateVs and Duke Remington like this.
  8. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Isn't this like asking how can little kids hate vegetables?
  9. mr3urious

    mr3urious Well-Known Member

    It's the over-saturation of him that makes fans hate Elmo, not necessarily Elmo himself.
  10. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    There a re a lot of reasons...the overexposure bit is the one I thought of first. Even Ed Christie said that about the character in an interview (I can provide a link to anyone interested). DrTooth is right about letting Elmo emote and become more than just a giggle. Give me the old "Happy Caps" episode any day...I wish Sesame Workshop would put that online!

    For those of us who have "Street Gang", Jon Stone was frustrated (and rightly so) about the show being "dumbed down" to compete with that horrible purple...He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. I wish that I could read Stone's memoirs...

    As for the purple tumor, Caroll Spinney mentioned in an interview that the other show really hurt Sesame Street because they were better at selling toys than Sesame.

    JustinHuskie, you might find this thread interesting. It's old, but it might answer your question to some extent.


    You might also want to read the thread about "The Street We Live On", a special which aired some time ago:


    Just something to add, the popularity of Elmo also hurt those who call themselves fans of Jim Henson and want to be taken seriously. The era between the end of "The Muppet Show" and let's say the Muppet video of "Bohemian Rapshody" was a difficult time for Muppet fans. During that time, the regular Joe would see two things regularly on TV associated with Jim Henson: Muppet Babies and Elmo.

    So therefore, the casual fan had this set of simple equations:

    Jim Henson="The Sesame Street Guy"
    Sesame Street=Elmo
    Muppets=Muppet Babies

    Elmo+Muppet Babies=kids' entertainment


    Jim Henson=a preschool entertainer and nothing else

    Now, the Muppets=Muppet Babies reasoning isn't as true as it used to be. This is in part to the viral videos, the latest film and even Muppet Treasure Island helped to sway the adult audience back to the Muppets. Also Muppet Babies hasn't been on TV in a while.

    Sesame Street has never taken a break. It's always been on since 1969. However, since Elmo's rise to popularity in 1993-ish and onward, he's guaranteed to be in every single episode. If Elmo is given the chance to be more of a three-dimensional child, such as Big Bird, then the deeper, more eloquent lessons about life can be taught on Sesame. The Good Birds Club episode was a brilliant lesson in self-acceptance, pride and not giving in to bullying. Kids will benefit way more than this than 15 minutes about "hands" or "hats".

    Kids are smarter than what we give them credit for. Leaf through the catalog of Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss songs and you will find an array of beautiful music dealing with all kinds of topics in a wide variety of music styles. This is just one aspect of Sesame Street's brilliance. (While you're at it, please read the poetry books of Jeff Moss..."The Other Side of the Door" and "The Butterfly Jar"). These pieces educate, entertain and encourage kids to think, wonder and discover.

    Compare this to one word sung over and over again to the tune of "Jingle Bells". I agree with what Frank Oz said about Sesame Street a while back...because let's face it, he's right.

    Sesame Street did wonders when it came to teaching subjects of basic humanism without insulting or talking down to the audience. Sesame Street was designed from the beginning to introduce kids to the world, to teach them about things they didn't know.

    Even little kids already know what feet, hands or any of the other Elmo's World topics are. In Sesame's "magazine format", when a song about one of these topics would pop up, it was OK. It was once in a while, not a 15 minute block of time every single day.

    You'll find that there's a lot of people here who have a lot to say about "the red menace".
  11. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    There is simply no comparison between the thoughtfulness and insight that went into Old School Sesame Street, and the pandering, marketing ploy called Elmo's World.

    I watched the show after he was introduced too, but it was before Elmo's World, and back when Elmo was a part of a rich ensemble, instead of monopolizing everything. He could be a very endearing character back then, acting as the sort of little brother to the other characters. That is the Elmo I prefer to remember and not what he's become.
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The thing is, he can be great if he's used in that way. I kinda wish he'd go back to being a more monstery 3 year old... that's where the third person talking comes from, in case anyone's watching. He used to speak a little more stilted, almost but not quite like Cookie Monster.

    The thing that always bugged me about Old Schoolers was that they're clearly terribly scientists. They NEVER took in the variables. I have NO idea where the new block format came from... if they're trying to clone Nick Jr, they're late by well over 10 years. But Elmo's World clearly came out of the school that A) they wanted some sort of vehicle with him B) They wanted to fill the last 15 minutes of the show with filler because the audience was dropping off just then, and C) someone watched Blue's Clues and said "We need to do that."

    I swear, what Barney did to kid's programming, Blue's Clues finished. Why everyone felt the need to copy that, I'll never know.

    Imagine if things were different, and Elmo's world was its own little sustained show with a plot, where they did something... I mean, Abby's Flying Fairy School, Ernie and Bert's Great Adventures, and Super Grover 2.0 all work because they follow a single storyline, and there's always conflict while they're teaching about something. Even with Global Grover, the 2 little segments that sandwich the film have plot to them. Elmo's World is about the many different way you can point something out. No conflict, no plot, just a bunch of hit or miss segments that go on too long and become repetitive.
    Duke Remington and Oscarfan like this.
  13. Misskermie

    Misskermie Well-Known Member

    I love Elmo. He's not my favorite, but I still love him.

    The things I hate are how I Ask my smaller cousins who characters are and they don't know. In fact, they don't even know what Sesame Street is, they just refer to it as Elmo!

    I agree with this completely too. Elmo has overshadowed a bunch of character we love. I'm not saying we should burn him, but I think we should let Elmo calm down for a while...
    KirbTreelo05 likes this.
  14. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    I to would also love to read John Stone's memorie. I think if you really want to have a deeper understanding of who Elmo is read Kevin Clash's book, and watch the Documentary. I at first had a lot of the same views that a lot of people had that Elmo stole the spotlight and things. Now I see that Elmo really does love everyone and it helps kids who may not see true love on a regular basses that it is ok to say "I love you" and to mean it.
    I think when i saw how passionate Kevin was and the fact that whenever any child makes a wish with the "Make a Wish Foundation" he stops everything that he is doing and helps grant that wish. Not only dose he let kids meet Elmo but he also hugs them himself and there parents and shows that he really cares deeply for the kids. To me that shows a lot and I have a lot of respect for both Elmo and Kevin for that.
  15. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Most of the problem stemmed from the fact that a lot of characters had yet to be recast, and Frank Oz wasn't quite as involved as he used to be... leaving a cast of Big Bird, Oscar, Telly, Baby Bear, Rosita, Snuffy, Zoe, and various other new characters that didn't quite stick. Elmo just came out on top because he was starting to get popular even in Jim's day, and that helped put him over the top. When the toy came out, then it slowly became the Elmo show... but with some focus on Ernie, since he had a not quite as successful toy the following year.

    Things are slightly different now. Elmo does still take up a huge chunk of air time, but there's a swing back to focus on other characters. Especially Grover.
    Duke Remington likes this.
  16. Cindy

    Cindy Moderator Staff Member

    I agree. Getting to know Kevin through his book and the new documentary has changed my perception significantly. It's really special to see someone like him have a huge heart toward kids. He's genuine and it shows. Elmo may not be everyone's favorite Muppet, but that's ok. I don't think he's supposed to be all that appealing to adults. It definitely changed for me when I had kids. Elmo is just able to capture the heart of a child in a way that no other character has.
    Duke Remington and dwayne1115 like this.
  17. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    There are only a few Muppet children I can believe are children. Big Bird, Zoe, Artie (Dog City), Robin the Frog and Elmo. Possibly Snuffy. But indeed Elmo. That's why the character is so popular. A kid's character on a kid's show that's a kid. That's why most of the Cartoon Network cartoons featured kids... Dexter's Lab, Kids Next Door, Powerpuff Girls, Chowder... kids love to see kids because they relate to them.

    Kevin is by far one of the most talented puppeteers out there. He disappears behind every character he plays, be it Clifford, Elliot Shagg (my favorite of his roster), Baby Sinclair, or Elmo. He makes those characters incredibly believable.
  18. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Have you seen Elmo on Late night with Jimmy Fallon? Elmo is so funny whenever he is on that show. Him and Jimmy have a interesting bond and it really shows.
    Duke Remington likes this.
  19. Cindy

    Cindy Moderator Staff Member

    Yes! I love it when Elmo interacts with an adult only audience. It seems to bring out just a little bit of naughty that we normally wouldn't see on the Street. :laugh:
  20. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Like when he's with Ricky Gervais...

    RICKY: Elmo, do you know what necrophilia is?
    ELMO: Where did you lose this interview?!

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