I cannot say I love the title of this piece, pitting as it does one generation against another, but I truly appreciated the insights regarding the stories we of Generation X grew up with and how they .
“Debuting in 1969, ”Sesame Street” was an experiment, to find out if public television could level class discrepancies and change the world. Airing free-of-charge in every home in the country and making learning fun, it undoubtably did. More than a simple lesson on the alphabet, for those of us raised by Big Bird, you couldn’t help feeling a sense of idealism about the future. It’s a message that’s hard to put into words, but you feel it if you watch Jimmy Fallon and the Roots sing “Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street” – as over a million viewers have. Just the opening bars of that song are enough to make me feel like a kid again.”
I certainly grew up on Sesame Street and my father, a Henson type (though older) was fascinated with what television and media could do to change our culture.
“From the ’60s on, Jim Henson’s work would reach nearly every child, whether it was “The Muppet Show,” “Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas,” “Fraggle Rock,” “The Storyteller,” the Muppet movies, “John Denver and the Muppets,” “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal,” “The Jim Henson Hour,” or “Muppet Babies.” Unlike Sesame Street, Henson’s later work did not have a “curriculum” created by Harvard psychologists at the Children’s Television Workshop. All the same, each show and movie had purpose.
Henson told his staff that with “Fraggle Rock,” he wanted to make a show that would help “stop war in the world” by teaching conflict resolution. “Muppet Babies” was made to encourage imagination. According to the show’s head writer, “[Henson] wanted children to believe anything is possible. That’s the only thing that’s going to save this planet — the power of imagination.” Though “The Muppet Show” did not have any overt “teaching objectives,” it had the implicit message that all kinds of weirdos and goofballs can work together in peace, give or take a few explosions. Underneath the screwball humor, “The Muppet Show” had a message of brotherhood.”
Indeed, reading through this article I saw myself over and over again, the idealism, the creativity, the focus on community and acceptance of difference.
It’s long but it’s worth the read, especially if you are a fellow X’er.