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Sesame Street to Introduce HIV-Positive Muppet

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

  1. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Unclean sewing needles. Or maybe a bad felt transplant.

    I dunno. This is a SERIOUS post!!!
  2. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Even Jerry Fallwell seems to be supporting the character (within the current context). Geez - of all people! And I think that says something! I'm just floored right now. This comes from the interview on Hardball with Chris Mathews on MSNBC/CNBC. Now I don't like Fallwell much (and that is not really the point) I just find it interesting he's on board.
  3. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    good question...a muppet doesnt get HIV or any diseases, so im hoping this doesnt come to us sesame anytime soon. like i said, if they are gonan address the issue, it needs to be an actual example of something living with it.

    Hey, speaking of a person on Sesame with AIDS, I saw they just came out with an Elmo's World playset with Mr. Noodle. I think if anything, Mr. Noodle is a great example of someone living with the disease that they could start with.
  4. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    According to Sesame Workshop in an e-mail I received today:

    "There are NO CURRENT PLANS to introduce an HIV Positive Muppet on Sesame Street in the States or anywhere other than in South Africa. This idea came from our South African broadcast partner isolating a major problem for children in that country. We at the workshop have been innundated by press calls about this, all because of a misquote of Dr. Schneider in the original story."
  5. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    Okay, if Fallwell isn't offended by this it really must be tame. ;)

    Seriously, this is what I see happening--

    someone's cousin comes to visit (Zoe's or Gabby's-- whatever) and that cousin is HIV+ (remember-- no one is suggesting Sesame Street introduce a character with AIDS, just an HIV+ character and there is a big difference there). So we get a scene where the 'kids' (Big Bird, Elmo, Zoe, Telly...) are playing with the cousin. Maybe they're playing tag, whatever, it is an active game. The cousin gets tired or dizzy or an upset stomach-- nothing major but enough that cousin has to go sit down at a picnic table next to Hooper's. So a couple of Muppets go over, I'm thinking Zoe and Big Bird, maybe Elmo. They ask cousin what's wrong. Cousin explains that cousin has to take medicine and sometimes the medicine makes cousin a little sick or tired. Zoe asks if the cousin is sick and that is why cousin takes the medicine. Cousin says no, the medicine to keep cousin from getting sick because cousin can get sick more easily than most people. Zoe says okay. Then Elmo or Big Bird says something like, 'when I'm tired sometimes I like to color. Would you like to color?' They can all get crayons and start coloring pictures instead of running around.

    A little later we can get a scene on the street where some people are looking at cousin, whispering and staying away from cousin. Zoe sees this and asks Maria what is up. Maria says that some people don't understand about cousin and they think they could get sick just from being near cousin. Zoe can then say 'they should ask cousin about it. Asking questions is a good way of finding something out.' Maria can say yes, if they talked to cousin they would find out they don't need to worry and they would find out what a nice person cousin is.

    Maybe cousin would visit on Sesame Street for a couple more episodes before going home, but nothing else about HIV or AIDS would come up.
  6. monkeymuppet

    monkeymuppet Well-Known Member

    if you have aol, there is a message board you can go to about this. i dont know the address of it, but its called Sesame Street Opens Door to HIV Muppet.

  7. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Re: Luke

    Yup the hospital setting was an entirely seperate issue, that was the whole point. Personally, i'm not afraid of kids learning anything, i'm just realising that at 4 years old a parent should have a lil' something to do with what their kids watch and be in on the discussion. I want them to be able to know when to switch off and back on again, so that the press uproar that it caused wouldn't encourage certain parents to switch off forever. I do agree that it would probably go over the heads of kids too young to understand - you certainly have a point there, but a parent still needs to be involved in the 'access' issue.

    I know it (even though Phil has already pointed out this whole issue is a misquote) would be dealt with in good taste by the Sesame people, but some folks seem to talk round here like it should be thrust upon the kids whether the parents like it or not. Thats definitely not the way - i mean some parents might want their kids to learn about the human body but having Bert and Ernie doing a striptease would not be in everybody's tastes !!!!!!!

    I actually tend to agree with Jessica that at least in the USA, it would be a lot more useful dealing with this at a slightly older age when the kids can begin to understand it and take it in properly rather than seeing some ambiguous reference just because a kids show wants to be groundbreaking.

    I actually have my suspisions about South Africa anyhow - this was all the centrepiece of an Aids conference and they seem to have got the press they wanted out of it - i think maybe Sesame Workshop has been used as a 'puppet' by the goverment in this case.
  8. trekkie1701E

    trekkie1701E Well-Known Member


    I saw a few news stories yesterday concerning the new muppet and think adding an HIV positive character to Jim Henson's muppets is a great move!
    I am physically disabled. While growing up, Sesame Street was a huge part of my life. I have a very soft spot in my heart for Jim Henson & all that he created. And As a disabled individual, I have a rather more sensitive perspective on this issue.
    I don't know if the original creator of Sesame Street would have objected to a muppet with HIV. But, I "do" know that young kids from all walks of life have played on that street. This includes the physically handicapped.
    "What?" you say. "Oh my God, 'disabled' people were on Sesame Street?" Well, yes. As a matter of fact they still are. In fact -- Hold onto your seat -- legendary "blind" singer Ray Charles once payed a visit!
    My point? Just because a person has an "abnormality" doesn't mean he/she should be "innapropriate." Sesame Street has, for over thirty years, invited disabled people into their neighborhood. Has it caused harm? Not in the least. If anything, having disabled kids & adults on the show has helped in teaching young children to respect one another. It also shows them that disabled individuals have as much talent as you or I & that they are capable of so many things. Ray Charles can play the piano & sing very well. Who knew?:)
    Why should an HIV positive muppet be any different? Many people have HIV anyway. The mesage of HIV is already transmitted to young children through television, school, etc. So Who better then Sesame Street -- An acclaimed educational program that has always dealt with sensitive issues in a very loving & fun manner -- to teach them to respect, say, an HIV positive classmate? The show would explain to them that nobody is less important and everybody should be treated the same.
    Just as Sesame Street has always done.

  9. Special_Ed

    Special_Ed Guest

    I don't think that this is a good idea to have an HIV infected Muppet on Sesame Street because this will open the door for a great deal of subject matter that little kids have no business getting into. It also worries me that this character could give the children the messages that "it's okay to contract HIV" and that defeats the entire prpose of the character.

    Where will this end? Will there be gay role model muppets and sex education muppets? Why can't we just let kids be kids and not try to force the world's problems on them at such a tender young age? This sort of thing is up to the parents, not entertainers. People in this forum seem to thing that it's the other way around, but since when is TV a replacement for good parenting? I think that it's sad that some people seem to think oterwise.

    - Ed
  10. furryfella

    furryfella Well-Known Member

    ITA trekkie!! they Just had a report on www.foxnews.com about the hiv muppet!! IMO i think IT's great that they are explorering something different!!:D
  11. MuppetQuilter

    MuppetQuilter Well-Known Member

    First off, thanks for the clarification, Phillip!

    Second, Sesame Street has always had a social agenda. From the start, the social 'issues' were as important as the ABCs and learning to count. Actually, learning to count in English and Spanish is a form of social programing. Showing people of different races and ethnicities living and working together-- in harmony-- was a huge part of the initial Sesame Street concept and that was controversial and a very big deal at the time. Unfortunatley, it is still pretty rare. Teaching kids to share and cooperate is social programing. Showing that a little girl in a wheel chair is still a little girl with all the same needs and wants as any other kid is social programing. Having Linda on the show is social programing. A story where a baby is adopted is social programing. So to say Sesame Street should avoid HIV because it is social programming is to miss one of the most important aspects of the show.

    I respect the opinions of those who think this is an inappropriate topic for young kids. Everyone has a right to their opinion and to express it.

    However, I think this is completely appropriate. I do not think it would open the door to a discussion of STDs or how to avoid them. I think it would teach an important lesson about fear of the unknown and the importance of education before judgement. I do not think it would diminish the innocence of childhood. I think it is the very innocence of early childhood that would make this work so well-- kids wouldn't get caught up in bizarre notions about HIV being a punishment or any of that sort of rubbish, they would simply recognize that it is wrong to treat someone poorly because they have the potential to become sick.

    Anyway, the HIV issue appears to be mute for American Sesame Street. I hope that changes, but that's just my view, as a parent and a sociologist.

    As for a gay character on Sesame Street-- I say bring it on!!!! Of course it would be a human, Sesame Street Muppets are too young for that sort of thing. I would love to see a gay couple on Sesame Street. It's long over due. I know, lots of people will disagree with me, but I believe there is room in this world for all of us and we should respect each other's choices, not dictate how others should live. Acceptance, tollerance, and respect have long been a part of Sesame Street and those concepts don't just apply to sharing toys and racial diversity. I don't expect this to happen anytime soon, but I sure hope it comes along in the next decade or so.
  12. radionate

    radionate Well-Known Member

    Hey All,

    I was greated by a surprise when I got into the station today, news reports out the wazoo on this. Here are two transcripts:

    HIV Muppet Reax w/audio

    (New York, NY) -- A HIV-positive Muppet is about to debut on the South African version of "Sesame Street. " Kermit the Frog says he is pleased with the addition and adds that "Sesame Street" is about educating all types of children.

    {HIVKermit1} Q...to do it :10.7

    The unnamed character, which is still without a final color or form, will be an upbeat female Muppet and will join the cast for the show's third season on the South African Broadcasting Corporation. Joel Schneider, vice president and senior adviser to the Sesame Street Workshop, says "not every program will deal explicitly with HIV/AIDS. We want to show that here is an HIV-positive member of our community who you can touch and interact with."

    There is a clip of Steve (as Kermit) being interviewed about it. He sounds VERY FLUSTERED. It is also obviously outside as there are car noises in the background. I have no way of uplifting this to the web, I'm sorry, but here's as close to a transcript of him as I can do (stumbles are also added so you get the general drift):

    "I haven't met that character yet, but uh, , I think its ahhh, I think its a nice idea. You know we've been, uh, we've been educating kids about all kinds of things for lots of years...so um.... you know, any way that we can help we're happy to do it.
  13. radionate

    radionate Well-Known Member

    Here's the second story:

    (New York, NY) -- The South African version of "Sesame Street" will be getting a new character. The unnamed character, which is still without a final color or form, will be an upbeat female Muppet that is HIV positive. Parents Television Council spokesperson Brent Bozell says the move is exposing kids to too much information too soon.

    The vice president and senior adviser to the Sesame Street Workshop says "not every program will deal explicitly with HIV/AIDS," and they will "be very careful" to fashion messages appropriately to the age group.

    The sound clip is basically Mr. Bozell saying that even now S.S. is playing games with children in regards that children aren't allowed to be children anymore. If anyone really really wants me to type out the sound byte I will, but post quickly as I leave the station in a little over an hour!
  14. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Sounds like because the story has broke tabloid media in the states some cunning journo has made his way to the Henson offices for a quote. Poor Steve, having to get into Kermit mode and Henson don't even own Sesame now. I guess he might have got lampooned outside because i doubt the press office would have let Kermit I/V on this because the facts are so up in the air.

    As for the UK - apparently we don't care as much. it got 2 lines in the most popular papers today.
  15. Special_Ed

    Special_Ed Guest

    Mister Muppet Quilter

    Why should a gay couple be on Sesame Street when gay people make up less than 3% of the total US population? Why should this liberal agenda be crammed down the throats of innocent children? You stated that the Muppets are too young for that sort of thing, so why would the children watching the show not be considered too young to watch this on the show, by your very own standards?

    What next, a murder or child molestor on Sesame Street, who must be accepted for being a sicko? What a joke! I don't recall many religous groups being depicted on Sesame Street either, which seems like this would be an alley they'd try to persue after the anti arab attitude after 9/11. In recent years even Christian groups are met up with intolerant attitudes, but no one seems to care about this group. A gay couple on Sesame street, what a silly silly idea....
  16. trekkie1701E

    trekkie1701E Well-Known Member


    Special_Ed & other anti-disabled-muppet people:

    Part of my disability has to do w/continually attrophying muscles. My guess is that many of the disabled kids on Sesame Street have this, too. Why is having the HIV disease different from deteriorating muscles? They're "both" diseases & they both force challenges onto the people who have them.

    Young children who watch Sesame Street "need" to learn respect. They "need" to learn how "not" to be afraid. If the street ever decides to add a gay couple to its residency, so be it. I don't care if parents are against gays. Everybody should be treated equal; and that's that. Unfortunately, there are people in this world who don't agree. Well, those people don't have to watch Sesame Street!

    I don't want to "force" anyone to watch the show, only to gag whenever they see somebody in a wheelchair or using a walker.

  17. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Special Ed

    It is fine to express your opinions on the board but name-calling is certainly not. Please refrain from doing so in the future. This board is made up of all sorts of people and such talk has no place here.
  18. trekkie1701E

    trekkie1701E Well-Known Member

    I didn't realize that it was an offending name. Sorry

  19. BlueFrackle

    BlueFrackle Well-Known Member


    I think you need to think about what your saying...

    see ya
  20. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    Oh...you certainly did not offend anyone. I was posing to the new "ED" member.

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