1. Welcome to the Muppet Central Forum!
    You are viewing our forum as a guest. Join our free community to post topics and start private conversations. Please contact us if you need help with registration or your account login.

  2. "Muppet Guys Talking" Debuts On-line
    Watch the inspiring documentary "Muppet Guys Talking", read fan reactions and let us know your thoughts on the Muppet release of the year.

  3. Sesame Street Season 48
    Sesame Street's 48th season officially began Saturday November 18 on HBO. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

Sesame Street to Introduce HIV-Positive Muppet

Discussion in 'Sesame Worlds' started by Phillip, Jul 11, 2002.

  1. Ol' Buddy Bert

    Ol' Buddy Bert New Member

    This is a most interesting discussion...

    For some reason I reminded of the rumours that circulated around the time Jim Henson passed away sayinng that the CTW was going to have the character of Ernie die to teach kids about death.

    If I recall correctly, and I don't know if this was an official statement or not, two things were said at the time: Death was an issue that was talked about when Mr. Hooper died and Muppets don't die because they're not human. They are foam and fleece and products of the imagination.

    With that in mind, I don't necessarily question the appropriateness of a character on the street that has HIV but I wonder if it should really be a Muppet that has the disease as opposed to a _real_ person if the previous statement is true.

    I am also reminded that this no longer JHC but the seperate entity of the Sesame Workshop.

    Regardless, I think the goals are admirable but I'm not so certain as to the means.
  2. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    Jamie :-

    I think you interpreted Jessicas post wrongly. She said that "IMO, it would be more useful for SS to show a hospital setting where a Muppet was ill in bed (perhaps hooked up to an IV or something) without specifing what the illness is." So she was suggesting that instead of tackling HIV they tackled serious illness more generically with this kind of hospital setting which i agree, with elderly grandparents, they would be much more likely to experience rather than HIV. So she was certainly not misinformed about the amount of time HIV patients spend in hospital. I do agree though that this solution doesn't tackle what they are trying to tackle though, but then it's Jessicas opinion that they shouldn't specifically tackle this.

    Radionate :-

    Yup, i was referring to the 'off button' in my post. I wanted to state that they should limit this storyline to a couple of episodes and air disclaimers and things. I want the parents to be able to use the 'off button' just for the episodes they know are going to contain this and not just be in the dark, otherwise they may decide to use the 'off button' permanently. From how i interpreted other people, they seemed to suggest the show include this kind of content as normal, because if their parents decided they should not watch it then it is their parents who really need educating. I think this is grossly unfair as people come from all different kinds of cultures, classes and backgrounds and as guardians are perfectly entitled to monitor what their underage kids are exposed to.
  3. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    I think that the hospital setting is a separate issue entirely in that case. I think we live in an unfortunate age when all our lives have been (or will be) affected by AIDS. I see no problem with a positive character on SS [that is not exclusively in a hospital setting]. I just wish there would be no need for it, but IMHO there definitely is. What are you afraid of a child learning about is my question? If it's over a kid's head he/she will disregard it. Just doesn't make sense to me. We all know that this subject would be handled appropriately.:confused: :confused:
  4. radionate

    radionate New Member

    I'm glad we are in agreement with the "off button", but I'm don't think we see eye to eye on the HIV+ Muppet (which is ok, I'm not attacking you).

    I just think that the puppet shouldn't just disappear after a few episodes. YES disclaimers should be aired before the episodes that deal with its HIV status, but to have the puppet just leave after a few episodes is insane. The thing above every thing else that people need to realize is that life goes on for those infected with HIV and AIDS. If the character continued to be on the street, it would allow adults and children to see that these people are no different then anyone else. They continue to live. They laugh, play, and cry just like the rest of us. While I don't think its HIV status should be the focal point every time they walk on camera, their presence would stand as a reminder that these people are a part of our everyday lives. They are our mailmen, teachers, neighbors, and friends. They don't just fade away; they struggle to live as close to a normal life as we do.
  5. FellowWLover

    FellowWLover Member

    I know that some parents will disagree with me, but here is my reasoning. I don't expect you to understand it.

    I simply feel that early childhood should be an innocent, untroubled period of time for children to live in a happy, carefree manner. I think that in a rush to "educate" kids about all the troubles in the world, our society sometimes robs children of some of the only exclusively worry free times of their lives.

    Certainly some children will be forced to learn about HIV early due to circumstance (again, the kids in Africa especially). But personally, my three-year-old has no need to know about HIV *right now*

    I am not saying that kids should not be taught about HIV at all (and all the other modern day issues of 2002 and beyond). I just believe that pre-school is too early. That is why I suggested a broader issue of "sick people" which could lay a foundation for further understanding about HIV and cancer and other illness. Does a three-year-old need to know about a specific disease, or just that people sometimes get sick, and although it might be a little confusing or scary, we should be compassionate and unafraid? Can't we wait until at least first grade before we spell it out?
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    In my opinion, if one should show up in the US, I think it should be a human. I just hope he doesn't run Hooper's store.

    Here's my theory. When David died, his death was covered up, because it would have probably caused some sort of controversy over Hooper's store. I call it the curse. When Handford left the store, I actually got worried about the actor, wondering if he died. I dunno, it's just too weird for me.

    And besides, Muppets don't die, they just get phased out of the show, and leave our memories.

    As for the "off switch," Where I come from, there's something much worse one channel up. Jerry Springer.:mad: :mad: :mad:

    One of these days, he'll be a nobody, a bum, a one hit wonder. I can't wait till he gets cancelled.
  7. radionate

    radionate New Member

    I too believe that childhood should be happy, carefree and full of the innocent wonder of a child. Unfortunately that time is becoming less and less today. Young children are getting molested by other young children for crying out loud! And children hear things, and often project them without realizing what they are doing. Yes, 3 to 4 year olds shouldn't have major lessons in HIV, but they should be aware of illnesses, and how they are spread. S.S. targets more then just 3 to 4 year olds; the audience is a little wider. I'm sure that nothing would be broadcast that wouldn't be inappropriate for a child. If they are too young to comprehend, as Jamie said, it will just go over their head, but perhaps be absorbed by the parent (if the child is fortunate enough to be watching with their folks).
  8. FellowWLover

    FellowWLover Member

    Well, I will grant you this... yes, SS targets older than the 2-5 set, but in reality, I do not know one child over age five that watches it. And mostly the kids I know who are even 4 or 5 do not watch it anymore. AND, I know literally hundreds of kids (being a teacher and having 20 kids under age 7 on my block alone).
  9. radionate

    radionate New Member

    My point exactly, childhood is growing shorter and shorter, and these kids, whether we like it or not, need a basis of knowledge. Its a double edged sword to say the least, and no side is right, but I have a good feeling those kids 4-5 and even 6-7 know things that could make a sailor blush.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    ..As I said. Jerry Springer. These sleazy talk shows have permiated our culture and poisoned our kid's minds!!! It is important that he be removed from the air.

    You can't say F*rt on Ren and Stimpy, but you can have a show about $%&*^ (*)&^^& $%^&* *()^&* ^&%*^(^ with a rubber hose!!! If you bleep out certain Swear words, the FCC will let you go.

    I swear, this latchkey kid generation is going to ruin civilization.
  11. FellowWLover

    FellowWLover Member

    Who exactly are we talking about here? I can guarantee you that the kids I am referring to know no such thing. Please remember that not all children are being raised by the Jerry Springer generation!
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but I just hate him so much!!!!

    So many kids around here are very very nasty. They go around harassing everyone. No wonder why they don't watch sesame. It tells them that they should BEHAVE !!!!

    Sorry! Just feelin' a little low!
  13. radionate

    radionate New Member

    Perhaps I shouldn't have used such a strong example, but these kids know more then any of us did at that age, and oftentimes they don't have a proper understanding of such information. They know what sex is (a good chunk of them, even if their parents swear they don't). They know about cancer, death, reproduction, swear words, and lord only knows what else. The problem is that often times they hide their knowledge, and are truly misinformed.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The only thing bad I picked up was swearing, and my parents slapped me for that. I'm actually for better parenting. These days, kids rule everything, and parents go for three, four jobs to keep them rolling in Playstation 2's and Game Cubes. Not to mention games with the "M" rating (Grand theft auto, etc.) One of my cousins was actually thrown out of the house for being unruley! That's what I hear.
  15. Hays

    Hays New Member

    What is the most important part of this for children to learn?

    I think we need to remember that the core of this issue is different with children. What's important to them isn't really how HIV IS spread, but rather how it's NOT spread. That being said, I'm hoping that Sesame Street mirrors what it did for 9/11, and makes the information more general. Even in 2002, it's pretty rare that a kid will come into contact with someone that they know has HIV, but ALL children eventually confront someone with a scary differece. There are plenty of conditions out there that cause kids to question their personal safety, and confusion can often lead to cruel behavior that needs to be addressed. A new character would be a great way to teach kids, but I hope that by being general it could also support kids who have things other than HIV (cystic fibrosis, cancer, asthma, etc.) without leaving them out.

    Although I can understand how this is a hot-button issue for puppeteers, (I don't know anybody in the business who hasn't lost someone) I don't think children need to be educated about HIV reducing behavior - they don't typically get HIV from behaviors they can control. The main point of educating adults about HIV is to reduce high-risk behaviors like unsafe sex, needle sharing, etc., and to encourage immediate treatment - and I hope our world hasn't changed so much that we need to teach this to toddlers.

    Something that concerns me about Sesame Street lately is that it seems to be outlining values rather than teaching skills. In the past season, there has been a tendancy towards telling kids what is right, rather than showing them specific ways to cope. I hope that the new puppet teaches kids how to manage their feelings and shows them ways to include children with differences. It would be sad if they just plopped a sick puppet in the middle of Sesame Street and nobody acted like anything was amiss, with the assumption that viewers will just follow along.
  16. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Heres my thoughts on it all a day after reading it....

    Whatever works in S Africa Sesame, BUT!
    It would not be appropriate to have a HIV muppet here in the states. Why? Because Muppets do not get diseases, and this would make it all the more confusing to kids. IT would make it a complicated mess, and make it more of a distance to udnerstand.

    This hasnt been brought up...Sesame USA already has the means to deal with AIDS, as my solution: NO MUPPET with HIV!!! Instead, a real human person...dont ya guys watch Elmos World from time to time. Mr. Noodle is living with AIDS, as actor Michael Jeter(evening shade, jurassic park 3) would be a great example of someone living life to the fullest wiht the virus.

    Not only would a Muppet with HIV cause an upraor here, but people arent as thoughtful as we of course are on here (we can talk about this in a graceful discourse wihtout some lurker posting who knows what about this) This would just cuase to much of a problem and not help anything.

    Much more better for people to relate to an actual person, as Im sorry, a Muppet with HIV just doesnt jive.

    and to felloww:

    "I simply feel that early childhood should be an innocent, untroubled period of time for children to live in a happy, carefree manner. I think that in a rush to "educate" kids about all the troubles in the world, our society sometimes robs children of some of the only exclusively worry free times of their lives."

    I agree 100% ! I grew up in the early 80's-late 80's and would have been scared to see this subject matter in the way it sound slike itll be handled, when i was say 5. youre not gonna see israelia and palestinian muppets on US sesame, so the same thing should apply here. Sorry to say this, but it geographically more imperitive for that to stay there, and if the issue needs to be addressed here, an actual person! They dont have a deaf muppet! They have a deaf person.
  17. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Mr Hooper's death was more traumatic...

    While I understand where the [loss of innocence] argument comes from, I feel it is delusional to think that kids (even of that age) don’t already have to deal with many more dire issues. I also don’t feel that having such a character on Sesame Street would do anything but teach kids understanding and tolerance for people with this specific disease without going into specifics of course. I think Mr. Hooper’s death was much more traumatic to kids than this character will be. I think a big case is being made over nothing.

    Some say kids have lost their innocence a decade ago, some would argue it happened on September 11th, but the truth is our parents were taught to hide under their desks during the threat of a nuclear attack. Not only was that rather asinine, it did not serve to really help anything, but this really could.

    Change is made by the pioneers of the world and better things can’t happen without a little controversy. I think this is one of those cases.
  18. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    ...actually, maybe it being a person would be a better idea, but kids just seem to respond better to Muppets. To tell you the truth, I never liked any of the people on Sesame Street. (ducks)
  19. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think the angle on this is not how one can get AIDS or that one could get AIDS, but more of the lines of What AIDS is, and that people with AIDS can live normal, productive lives. That's what I think, anyway.

    But Seriously, I agree with a lot of you. It shouldn't be a muppet, but rather a human on the street. Muppets, as said before are immortal, like most cartoon characters. No one would like to see a cartoon about Bugs Bunny getting cancer, or Mickey Mouse with HIV.

    And will this lead to more somber moments on the show? Will it lead to more unhappy truths in other co-productions? I just have this strange thought running around in my head about Rechov Sumsum (the Middle Eastern Co-production) Will this lead to stories about Jewish families who lost loved ones when an Islamic miliant blows himself up on a bus, or when a Palistinian family's house is destroied (and members killed) by Israeli tanks? I severely doubt it, but it's what happens.

    Sesame isn't so much about reality reality (for further coment, I suggest stopping by a library or Bookstore and look for a copy of Mad about the 70's for a satire called Reality Street), as much as a child's view of the neighborhood. The only real somber/ serious moments on the show were Hooper's death, two Hurricanes, and the small fire at Hooper's store. Mainly, the only real problems they face are Cookie Monster losing cookies, or Grover not being able to get something right. After all, it's mainly for kids, so things have to be lighter.

    So I say, introduce a human with the disease, let him stay on the show for a year or two, and have him move somewhere else before something bad happens.

    I have no idea whose side I'm on here!

    SPECIAL ED New Member

    how does a muppet catch aids?

Share This Page

Sign Up for Email and Save 15% + Free Shipping @ ShopPBS.org!