Joel Stein takes aim at Elmo

Is it possible to dislike Elmo? Apparently it is, yes, and not just because he’s annoying and speaks in the third person. When my children were young enough to enjoy Sesame Street, they were drawn to Elmo like moths to a flame, and my friends and I sat around lamenting the “good old days” when Bert and Ernie got more screen time and Super Grover was always on hand to create calamity. Sure, today’s Sesame Street is reminiscent of what we grew up watching, but it’s different. For a variety of reasons.

Well, Joel Stein wants to place the blame squarely on Elmo’s fuzzy little shoulders, and I can’t help but laugh, even as I not-so-secretly agree:

Yes, I know that children love Elmo. But children are idiots. That’s why we don’t let them have jobs. Could you imagine an office full of children? They’d spend all day telling dumb jokes and talking about their poop. It would be like it was before women entered the workplace.


When I watched “Sesame Street” in the ’70s, the human cast and the Muppets were quirky adults who didn’t talk down to me with baby voices. Now the human cast gets almost no airtime, and the show is dominated by Elmo, Baby Bear and, now, Abby Cadabby ââ¬â preschoolers enamored by their own adorable stupidity.

The lesson they teach ââ¬â in opposition to Oscar, Big Bird, Grover or Bert ââ¬â is that bland neediness gets you stuff much more easily than character. We are breeding a nation of Anna Nicole Smiths.

Is Stein taking it to an extreme? Probably. I mean, I hope so. For the sake of the children.

But I have a confession to make: Even when my kids were in the target age group for Sesame Street, as the keeper of the remote control I often announced that Sesame Street was unavailable, so how about Between the Lions, instead? I’m a sucker for the Chicken Jane segments. That’s what Sesame Street used to be like, before Elmo arrived on the scene.

Read the whole piece if you need a little sanctioned Elmo-bashing. Stein’s ideas for a solution are particularly amusing.

In the meantime, I think we’ll stick to characters who actually learn things. And who don’t make me want to stick forks into my eardrums.

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