27 September 2010

In Defense of Katy Perry and Sesame Street (or, I Kissed a Muppet and I Liked It)

Since there is a world outside my living room and the life of the Doozer, today we're going to discuss something topical. I'm sure I'm now the 9 millionth person to take to the Internets to address the issue of Katy Perry's video being nixed from Sesame Street, but as a regular adult viewer of said program, I feel like I have just as valid an opinion as anyone else does. And my opinion, it turns out, is pretty simple.

Really, America? Really?

Now, I have not seen the video in question. Maybe I should watch it, lest I be like all those people I despise who always condemn pop culture without ever actually seeing it.

We'll be right back after these messages . . .

Okay. Seen it. (And watched it with the Doozer. Didn't pre-screen it. Guess what? He did not instantaneously turn into a sex maniac.) And not surprisingly, my opinion remains unchanged.

Really, parents of America? Really?

This is Sesame Street we're talking about. Sesame Street. It baffles me that we're even having this conversation. This is not hardcore pornography being broadcast over the public airwaves into your living room every morning at 9 am, prepared to defile your youngster. This is children's programming, people. Of the highest quality, actually.

Why are we all so uptight? Sure, it might be difficult to appropriately explain Katy Perry to an impressionable tyke (leaving out entirely her engagement to former heroin and sex addict/comedic genius Russell Brand—there is no G-rated version of that story), but in this context, she's just a girl singing a cute song with Elmo.

Fine, fine, so the dress was a little low-cut. And by a little, I mean, barely at all. So beyond that almost imperceptible amount of cleavage, how is this really any different from previous performances, from the likes of Norah Jones and Diana Krall (she's Canadian!)? Or Mr. Adam Sandler? There was no uproar over his appearance and performance of "A Song About Elmo." But have you seen Funny People? In which he indiscriminately bangs groupies and makes at least one joke about the Holocaust that I can recall. Let me see if I have this right: Adam Sandler, okay. Katy Perry, evil.

I think I need a scorecard to keep up.

Are we judging Katy Perry for who she is, outside of this appearance on Sesame Street? If that's so, where does it end? Should we ban Maggie Gyllenhaal from the Street because of her work in Secretary? What about Adrian Grenier? Have you ever seen Entourage? Or Greg Kinnear. He taught us about robots and machines. But he also starred in Auto-Focus, an incredibly disturbing depiction of a once-successful star sliding into utter depravity. How could you, Hogan?

Ricky Gervais has appeared on Sesame Street with Elmo! No part of his stand-up routine cannot be repeated in polite company. And he drinks on the air during award shows!

Even one of the executive producers of Sesame Street, Carol-Lynne Parente, expressed surprise at the reaction to the Katy Perry video. And I think if somebody knows what's appropriate or not on Sesame Street, it might be her.

As someone who's become a regular viewer of the show in the last year, I can attest to the fact that it is of the highest quality. I'm consistently impressed by what they accomplish in every episode: a full hour of entertainment and information, education and laughter, an impressive feat that holds the attention of even the most rambunctious child—and manages to actually teach them something at the same time.

And further, they are not here to harm or brainwash our children, or expose them to indecency. It's a show that takes great pride in creativity and art, inspiring children to use their imaginations and embrace the possibility of wonder.

Wait a second. Creative. Art. Creative artist . . . ummm, Katy Perry? Oh, I see. There is a connection there. There is a reason they chose to feature her on the show. Because she is absolutely appropriate to appear on the show.

So, America, do us all a favor. Get over yourselves. What do you really think is going to happen? Your infant son is not going to spontaneously start masturbating in the middle of your living room at the sight of Katy Perry frolicking with Elmo. And if you start doing it, well then, you have serious problems.

Katy Perry is not exactly Marilyn Manson. Or Charles Manson, for that matter. Can we put the brakes on here, and acknowledge how absurd this outcry is? How misplaced and misguided these objections? There are real problems in the world, real threats and dangers to our children to get worked up over. Not a pop star in a cute dress.

Seriously, America. Let my Katy Perry go . . .

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

16 September 2010

Conversations With a 2-Year-Old

Talking to a toddler is an experience that is not easy to . . . well, put into words, I suppose. These conversations tend to be lopsided or even one-sided, full of non sequiturs, as well as absolutely absurd asides and tangents. As a person preoccupied with words, who chooses his own very carefully, who takes them very seriously, it's pretty amazing to me to watch the Doozer's language skills develop. To watch as things catch on in his brain, as he examines and experiments with words, inspecting them closely and trying to figure them all out.

For Father's Day, my sister gave me a book full of blank pages interspersed with random quotes from kids, a journal to record all your child's memorable sayings. This is an excellent idea and goes hand-in-hand with my wife and I always saying, Why aren't we taking videos of him? Why aren't we recording that?

Because someday, it will all just be a memory, sadly.

Anyhow, as language skills develop, but true understanding lags slightly behind, the result is some incredible pearls of rhetoric, verbal constructions of such brilliance, that are at once hilarious, surprisingly insightful, and often downright surreal.

Perusing the pages of that book unearths some delicious nuggets of toddler wordplay.

Running under the hose while my wife waters the garden: "It's raining! I don't have an umbrella!"

[Ed. note: The Doozer often skips over pronouns and modifiers, indefinite articles. "I don't have umbrella" is probably more accurate.]

Mimicking his mother's reassurance, when something scary appears onscreen during an episode of Dora the Explorer:

"It's okay, it's just a bear, a jaguar, some flying monkeys, and a witch."

Apropos of nothing:

"Okay, okay, I count the grasshoppers all by myself."

This is one of the rare instances where our son has used the word "I" in reference to himself. Typically, it's "you." Which makes sense, in a way, because that's what he hears from us all the time. "Do you want . . . do you need . . . etc." So we often hear things like, "You want Dada carry you." And of course, he often editorializes and refers to himself in the third person. That stuff is funny.

Mostly you just sit and listen, because you have no idea what they're going to say next. Where their little mind is going to wander, what particular bon mots they will unleash.

Words, words, words. Such wonderful words.

09 September 2010

Ringo Starr Married a Bond Girl!

Okay, so in hindsight, perhaps there is not really that much call out there in the world for a professional caber tosser (even a wee toddler one who's ridiculously cute as well as being immensely talented). But I imagine that there's always going to be interest somewhere, everywhere, in great rock drummers.

Ladies and gentlemen, the next Dave Grohl. And our meal ticket.

I'm kidding.

Only slightly.

Doozer drum solo!