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Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by Daffyfan2003, Apr 12, 2011.
Man, you wouldn't see that on any (non Adult Swim) cartoon nowadays.
Actually, the interview SAID there was one, but I actually can't find any info if one existed... but there WAS one about teen pregnancy (probably talked about it there)... and of course, drugs (where Fat Albert becomes an unwitting delivery boy and winds up taking down the drug dealing brother of a friend... and it actually gets complicated for an early season episode). But once they left network, syndication had a much less rigorous censorship and it gave them a platform to REALLY talk about stff.
Let me amend what I said earlier... as I was writing this, I was trying to find a list of episodes, and I found This... okay, so they DID do a VD episode... amazing.
Wow! First I didn't get any replies here, now we got into some deep topics. By sheer coincidence I was watching 'Big Bird in China' today and I was surprised that Big Bird threatened to beat up that monkey. Seems like they could get away with more in the earlier episodes than they are able to get away with now.
Buddha wanted to beat up Sun WuKong! Buddha! That's how bad the Monkey King was. At least with Big Bird, the Monkey didn't relieve himself on him... I only know basic bits about Journey to the West (where that Monkey came from) but... ol' Monkey King is beyond frustrating to deal with.
Okay- that's about what I had surmised. And that's what I was trying to say- to ignore the religious aspects of Christmas and Hannukah when presenting it to kids is intellectually dishonest- especially when it's coming from a show that is supposed to be all about education for children. Religious education is important too. I still contend that Sesame Street could have said that Jesus came to be the Savior- I feel like that would have been a simple enough way to approach it. And as others have said- apparently that's a line that they're not willing to cross and should not cross in the view of some. I guess that gets to be a very tricky line to determine on what should and shouldn't be said on certain topics- religion or as others have mentioned, divorce, drugs, death, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. But they've done what they're going to do and there's no need to complain about it now. Like I said- I'm glad they even mentioned the birth of Christ at all.
Hey, Convincing John- I also remember one particular Sesame Street episode about stealing from the 1980s and I've been trying to find someone who remembers some more on this as well. I recall an episode that started with Telly in the arbor area one morning, who was about to have an orange and he had set down on one of those crates while he went do something else. And while he was gone, some huge monster came up and stole it. And from there, the rest of the episode has this monster going around and stealing things and everyone is wondering why things keep disappearing. I seem to recall that the monster is finally caught at the end of the episode by Big Bird's nest and I think Maria is on hand to explain to him that taking things from someone else without asking is called stealing and it's wrong. And then the monster apologizes for stealing and now he knows to ask first. And everything is good again. Does anyone remember that episode? I remember the monster was kinda freaky to me as a kid- but after searching Muppet Wiki for him- I'm thinking it may have been Old McDougal (http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Old_McDougal)
I agree; there's nothing educational or particularly helpful about Political Correctness. It's all based in fear and irrationality.
Sesame Street had already addressed the concept of faith very well in Christmas Eve on Sesame Street in a subtle yet meaningful way. And then parents are free to expand on that for their kids with whatever beliefs they have.
They did a masterful job with this- I love it! I've seen Christmas Eve on Sesame Street probably a gazillion times and I still love watching it all the time- yes, every year at Christmas but also just whenever during the year I'm in the mood for some Christmas fun. I don't care- I love Christmas and love celebrating all year long.
I see what you're saying--that presenting aspects of a religion without explaining that it's a whole belief system doesn't really explain anything. But how could they have said that Jesus came to be the savior, and then done the Jewish part of the show where they'd have to say, no, actually he's still a good guy, but not THE savior, the savior hasn't come yet. And then do the kwanzaa bit and say, well, the savior doesn't enter into it, you could believe either way and kwanzaa would still work. And they'd have to explain the concept of a savior, so they'd have to explain the concept of sin...abstract ideas like that are far more complicated to explain than they appear, especially to adults who believe in them and who have been familiar with them for many years.
The way all the Christians have posted in this thread, all the statements about Jesus being the savior are presented as truth. Because the religion, as a belief system, presents it as truth. So how would you explain different religions to a toddler, in the context of a show that doesn't promote a specific religion (i.e. without saying one is true and the others are not)? there are different truths? Some people believe this, and other people believe that, and still more believe something different? If they presented it like that, it would imply to the child that all religions are fictional stories, and that is just as poor an explanation of what religion is as not mentioning faith at all.
I didn't see the elmo's world special, but i've heard nothing but good things about it. It seems that they're trying to explain some of the things that kids might see or hear in December, so images like a draidel or words like "Jesus" will be familiar and kids will recognize that these holidays are celebrations and they're about family, etc. That's a very different thing than leaving stuff out to be politically correct.
Christmas specifically celebrates Jesus coming to Earth to be the Savior. (Matthew 1:21)
Hannukah and Kwanzaa have nothing to do with it. Judaism does not believe in Jesus as the Messiah, so why would Sesame Street even mention their opinion on Christ?
Kwanzaa is not even a religious holiday, but a cultural one celebrating African heritage. (see http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/origins1.shtml for more on that). So there would be no need to mention Dr. Maulana Karenga's personal view of Christ, since the holiday is open to people of all religious faiths.
I still don't see how fully explaining the purpose and identity of Jesus as the Savior would have been that much of a stretch for Sesame Street.
Any further questions about God and beliefs about Him could and should be talked out between the kids and parents.
Well, that would be because Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life.
It may be simple to you, but you've spent a lot of time reading, listening, and thinking about it. The statements you make here are quite foreign and complicated to anyone who has not spent a lot of time reading, listening, and thinking about it--i.e. to people who were raised in different religions, and to very young children.
Plus, your statements are presented as truth, because you see them as truth. But millions and millions of people in this world see them as statements of Christian belief. No one can present what you've said as truth without promoting the Christian religion as truth. If this were a college curriculum, your statements would belong in a Theology class. Sesame Street's special would belong in a Religious Studies class--they attempt to expose kids to multiple religious celebrations without saying any one of them is the "right" one.
To say that Jesus is the way the truth and the life is to say Christianity is the truth. To present it in a tv show as Christian belief and to say others believe different things would make each religion sound like believing in the tooth fairy. To explain what religion is without promoting one is far too complicated for a television special for toddlers to address. Not going into detail about beliefs specific to each religion is a trickier line to walk, and it is more respectful to each religion than any other way to approach the subject.
Christmas and Hanukkah are two completely different, unrelated stories. I don't see where there would be a problem discussing the two separately in the same special. And in fact other shows like Blue's Clues actually managed to do it quite well.
Exactly. I really stand by how SS handled the subject matter. They didn't exactly say either was part of the one true religion, nor did they deny it. They took the perfect middle ground in between PC and heavy handed religious education. Remember, everything in Sesame Street is supplemental. True education comes just as much outside of the program as it does inside. SS may teach counting and basic math, but it's up to a teacher to turn that into math skills. Again, I', just proud that they used the meme "Happy Holidays" to actually SHOW more than one holiday.
And it really seems ever Hanukkah special I've ever seen was to teach non-Jews what the heck their Jewish friends are doing.
Personally, my favorite special that deals with both is the Pepper Ann episode (which name I can't remember) where she overhears her mother talking to someone about how someone "must make a choice." Now, she's Jewish on her mother's side of the family and Christian on her divorced father's side of the family, and misconstrues what she overheard to be about her... and she THINKS she has to chose between the two. instead of explaining the heck out of everything, the show deals with PLOT! A plot where we KNOW what both holidays are about. To me, the best specials don't need Santa or biblical stories to get the point across. We know them. I want to see how they apply. I want something either real or REALLY weird!
i think you're missing my point. my point isn't that the particular stories are incompatible. my point is that you have two options if you present jesus in the role of savior. either, you say he was, or you say christians believe he was. the first implies your belief system is the "right" one, the second implies your belief system is a fairy tale. then, you'd have to explain what the concept of a savior is, because it is certainly completely alien to my belief system. and is a 4 year old really going to understand the concept of a savior and sin? because christian rhetoric is so infused into the lives of believers outside of church that they often forget (or have never had to think about) which concepts are easy for everyone to understand and which concepts are specific to their religion and very complicated and strange to other people.
sesame street's special is not trying to teach what christmas means to some grown-ups. it's trying to explain multiple holiday rituals and what they mean to kids who celebrate them with their families. they mention jesus because that's part of what christmas is to some of the kids who celebrate it. but "savior" probably isn't part of what christmas means to many 4 year olds, even ones who will think it's important when they grow up. they're not wimping out and being pc, the concept of jesus as a savior is just not related to the message of the show, and even if it was, since it's a particularly christian belief, there's probably no way to address it through tv to eight million toddlers in a way that doesn't disrespect either christians or non-christians.
Definitely, I think that's ultimately a lot more useful. Have the characters just be the characters and have a story that relates to these ideas. Rather than doing a big lecture on each religion that feels overly elaborate and forced.
As a Christian I personally have no problem with the language "Christians believe he was." It's a fact. It doesn't negate my feelings on the matter. Children live in the real world and they do encounter people who disagree with them. They have to learn that they can disagree but still believe what they want to believe.
Of course, the multiple-beliefs discussion opens a can of worms for parents who don't celebrate any of the holidays in Elmo's special. Imagine a 3-year-old asking, "Mama--how come we don't do Christmas, Hanukkah OR Kwanzaa?" That's a lot tougher question than "How come there's no one like us on TV?" which I could answer with, "Only a few people in the whole world believe what we do, or know that anyone else does. It may not sound fair, but TV is there for most people."
OK I know I'm not a parent yet, but I have little sympathy for parents whinging about these things. I don't mean specifically holidays, just different beliefs in general. This is life, the real world, and your kid has to learn to live in it, rather than complain everytime it doesn't conform to them. Kids do have to learn that it's not the end of the world if they're different.
Well I agree with that. But how do you teach that to a mass audience of young kids through tv? Sesame Street has always done such a great job with teaching kids to respect other people even if they choose to like or do different things. That's exactly what the special does--it asks kids how they celebrate, and focuses on family & ritual. It has nothing to do with WHY the PARENTS celebrate it. Modeling social interactions and familiarizing kids with the concept that people do different stuff is one thing. Discussing belief is a completely different thing--I don't know if most 4 year olds can understand the concept of faith, or the concept that different people have different beliefs, much less understand it from an hour tv show. It's a good first step, to have kids understand and respect that other people do different things, will help them later or on an individual basis learn that people believe different things, too. And if parents want to watch with their kids & add more in-depth explanations, isn't that the way Sesame Street always hopes families watch any episode of the show?
The concept of a savior is one of belief. They can't just throw the word around without explaining it, and "sin" and "belief." As familiar as the concept is to adult Christians, it's not for non-Christians and most of the Sesame Street-aged audience including those in Christian families. It's not a self-evident concept that's easy to explain--it would take a lot of time, and it would be out of place in the type of show the special is, so it's not fair to criticize them for not bringing it up.
Well we shouldn't underestimate children. They understand things, just in their own way.
Right, that's what I said before, that I thought Christmas Eve on Sesame Street did that very well in addressing "faith" in a more subtle way. Let's face it, Sesame Street used to be a deeper show.
I think we're having some misunderstanding. I wasn't criticizing the Elmo's World special, I thought what they did was fine. I was just frustrated with people being so cautious about discussing religion on TV.
Well OK I should clarify, I didn't think they needed to use the word "Savior" either. It's not like children who are being raised Christian have never heard it before! Sometimes it feels like Sesame Street assumes they're the first ones to tell kids these things, and that's simply not the case!
Now the Muppets did have some very obvious religious imagery in the John Denver Christmas special and I thought that was fine. That was a more grown up special and it worked.
sigh. yes it did. the more sesame street i watch, the more it feels like the recent seasons have returned to very basic curriculum content with nothing about characters and personalities, the way the first two or three seasons were when they were worried about funding and their image, and before they realized they could do more.
okay. point taken. from my perspective, i'm frustrated when it's all christian-centric on tv. problem is these days it's all sound bytes and no one wants to have a long & serious enough discussion to address any topic thoughtfully.
then they will understand it from the perspective of their outside exposure & not need it from sesame street. it was probably others on this thread who brought up the absence of that word as a problem. but it's not like non-christians have heard it or had it explained to them before.
i don't know, maybe it is an issue for sesame street to address, in a separate special, with a message of tolerance, since other shows either shy away or blow up non-issues into foci for rabid intolerance. but if they cave to youtube users on cleavage, there's little hope for even a thoughtful presentation of religion...
See I think it was that way a few years ago. But more recently instead of being partial to one religion, TV just tries to ignore religion, period. And they claim they're trying to be tolerant, but franticly hiding away the concept of religion is hardly a mature way of dealing with the situation. As you say, it deserves more thoughtful discussion than that.
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