Even Monsters Ask Questions About Who They Are

SesameStreetIt’s been interesting to hear retrospectives over the past few weeks about Sesame Street.  They “turned 40” recently, having been on the air since 1969.

What’s interesting is the character analysis done for these monsters who have been devoted to the education of their TV charges.  Take, for instance, Big Bird.

In a recent NPR broadcast, Carroll Spinney, the man who gives voice to Big Bird and Oscar, shared that Big Bird was originally portrayed as a dopey adult.  A logical beginning, considering that bird was so, well, big.  But Spinney recognized what was unique about when Big Bird was most successful, when he felt most right as a character.  “Big Bird wasn’t stupid,” he says.  “He was a child, learning along with the kids on the show.”

That analysis of Big Bird, as well as all the other characters such as Cookie Monster (who originally had teeth!), Oscar the Grouch (an orange grump, not green), and others is credited with allowing the show to adapt to the times.

(Elmo, by the way, is one example of how Sesame Street analyzes the Place in which they live.  The neighborhood may be the same, but when that furry little red monster moved in, Sesame Street got their very own video blogger.)

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