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Andrei in the office


Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness

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Andrei in the office

Cultural Mores in Education and History

I was prompted to post this morning, not because of the video but because of a comment associated with it:

For a little history, this Sesame Street segment dates back to about 1971. It ran until about 1974. It features a character now lost to history: Roosevelt Franklin. The character and his mother perform an R&B recitation of the alphabet.

One user posted:
I don't think you could get away today with depicting black people as puppets in a stereotypical way. Not pc. But I meant crazy in an over the top effort kind of way to be funny - crazy is a funny way ... I'm not so into this stuff, my 36 yr old sister sent this to me - this stuff cracks her up

Sadly, one of the things that Sesame Street seems to have lost is non-monster muppets. The sound effects man with the Derby, Prairie Dawn, and the Roosevelt Franklin kids did more for the show and culture than people gave them credit for. Franklin and family were lavender. The Sound effects man (and one of Roosevelt's friends) were royal blue. When put along the already multi-racial human cast... who had time to organize characters by colour. It was simply another distinguishing feature. Personally, I think the show did wonders to reduce the concept of racism in a very subtle and downright-subversive manner.

The video does admittedly show puppets 'of colour' performing what is pretty much contemporary 'new york urban' music of the early 70's. Schoolhouse rock also utilized this technique in the video's for six, nine, and verb. Personally, I don't find this "stereotyping" anymore than showing anything appreciated by any subset of society. You might as well outlaw "Villa Alegra", "Happy Days", and "You Can't Do That On Television" because they are aimed at cultural subsets.

Here's the snippet. You decide:

If you want to see the horrid underbelly of edumacation sic.
Here's a treat in appreciation of irony and satire.

Kudos to the writers at MadTV for these rips on Schoolhouse Rock. Here's another one and one more and one last one.

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I loved Roosevelt Franklin, and I still have an album of his songs around here somewhere...

Schoolhouse Rock was hip...Lucky Seven was nearly rap. It made you wanna stay and watch the commercials.

He seems more ADHD than anything else! Perhaps it's because I grew up in New York but I don't really see anything very stereotypical about the segment, though I know that RF was always the "trouble maker," which could be a more likely reason for him being phased out.

By the way, the blue guy who goes to the Charlie's Restaurant is still on. As is Prairie Dawn. There's also another green girl muppet who has a kitten named sparkles. I don't remember the girl's name though (only seen her once). So there are some "human" muppets on the show still. Have not seen the Sound Effects man or Sherlock Hemlock recently though. Yes, Micah watches Sesame Street. I pretty much turn it off when Elmo's World comes on.

I miss Prairie Dawn. I haven't seen her in years and I always thought she had the prettiest name.

My wife works on all of the Stop Motion seqments shown on MadTV.

Mainly she fabricates the puppets and their clothing.

I'm of the impression that Sesame Street is directly rersponsible for getting race relations to the point that they're at now. Not to say that there still isn't a ways to go. After all as long as you still have groups like the Aryan Nations, and the KKK, there are still racial issues. I can't think of one Gen X'er that didn't watch it for at least a couple of years. It's influence even spilled over into the early years of Gen Y.
I remember there was a book a friend of mine read some years ago. The subject was a contrast between kids programs that we grew up with vs. the ones out now (mind you trhis was the late 90's that she and I had this discussion) The two main shows that were contrasted was Sesame Street and Barney. One of the points that really stuck with me was that in Sesame Street you not only had cultural and racial diversity in the characters (be them muppets or humans), but there was also diversity of personalities. For instance Earnie who's always happy, Big Bird who has a friend that everyone things is imaginary, and Oscar the Grouch (always my favorite); and on the show it was OK if Oscar was a grouch of if Earnie just wanted his rubber ducky. Contrast that with Barney where that purple lump of shit would ridicule people for being sad, and get the kids to join in on the jeers. It was no surprise when I came to find out that the producers of Barney were fundamentalist Christians.

The 60's: Martin Luther King asked, "Can't we all get along?"
The 70's: Jim Henson answered, "Yes. Here's how."


1991: Rodney King asked, "Can't we all get along?"
The 00's: Dick Cheney answered, "Silence your treasonous babble!"

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