29 January 2010

Accepting Elmo

I don't recall now when Sesame Street first introduced the character of Elmo. It was well after I was the age of a regular viewer, far older than the target Sesame Street demographic. But I can recall feeling that he was an interloper, a marketing ploy, a pox on the house of Hooper. Indisputable proof that all the great things of my childhood were being warped and corrupted and destroyed for no discernible purpose that I could see. (I'm looking at you, George Lucas.)

It's like Charlie Brown with his small, pathetic Christmas tree, fighting the commercialization encroaching upon his beloved holiday, steadfastly sticking to his belief in tradition, his unswerving dedication to nostalgia. While not the most politically oriented individual, I can be quite self-righteous when it comes to issues of pop culture I hold dear.

For the record (as if it was even up for argument), I'm with Coco.

Apologies, dear reader. I did not intend to meander into an apoplectic tirade, fueled by my utter hatred for all things Leno. Fodder for a future post, perhaps. What was I talking about again?

Oh, yes. Elmo.

That little red creature that was not part of the Sesame Street landscape I recalled from my own childhood. I wanted to stand on a soapbox and proclaim to all the children of the world that they were being lied to, manipulated--brainwashed, even. They've tricked you, don't you see? They don't care about you. This is that whole New Coke fiasco all over again. We liked our Sesame Street just fine the way it was, people.

And Greedo did not shoot first! Greedo did not shoot first!

Sorry, mixing up my embattled pop culture causes again. Anyway, the Elmo train rolled on, unimpeded. Case in point: The $60 toy that walked, talked and giggled when you tickled it, flying off store shelves, ruining Christmas for the countless parents pressed into service against their will to retrieve this monstrosity for their eager moppets.

I mean, where did it stop? Who would explain to the unwashed masses that this "character" was an agent of unrepentant evil, perpetrated upon the American public by the Children's Television Workshop, which was clearly a front for a much more nefarious and sinister organization, hell-bent on world domination behind the peaceful guise of lighthearted, educational children's television programming?

Then, a funny thing happened. My son discovered Elmo. So, there's this song, right? It's a faux-country number about Elmo and his four ducks. He wears a fringe-covered shirt and plucks on a twangy guitar, just to complete the motif. So, he's got these four ducks. Four birds of a feather. They quack together. Until one flew away. And then he had only three ducks. It's sorta sad, but kinda funny, and damn, if the whole thing is not catchier than Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl."

From this simple video, a loving obsession was born. And that cute little red creature has now invaded my home. He's everywhere. And on everything. He's there at meals (bib), in the bath (toy submarine), and at bedtime (flap book). And I'm torn. Is he an interloper still? Or a beloved addition to the Street? I mean, there he is, all over the Internets, with all manner of movie stars and musical artists. They can't all have drank the Kool-Aid, right? Adam Sandler, Norah Jones, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Feist. Feist?!? The pixie darling of American and Canadian folk-pop can't be wrong, can she?

So, for the moment, I have acquiesced. And to prove how far I've gone in my acceptance of Elmo, I offer this evidence. On the shelf that contains my extensive, varied, prized collection of DVDs, there now sits, for my son, a copy of The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Sandwiched right between About a Boy and After Hours.

That is, when my alphabetical system goes untampered with. For, besides Elmo, my son's main preoccupation of the moment appears to be dragging his dad's beloved DVDs off the shelf and either spreading them around, or stacking them in a very tall pile, on the floor, much to my chagrin. Weirdest. Kid. Ever.

To be continued . . .

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