This Post was brought to you by the Letter “O” and the Number “44”

a_esgibbs_0615When Sesame Street founder Joan Ganz Cooney met Obama at a fundraiser last year, she was prepared to hear what she always does. “I’d have bet you a million dollars,” she says, “that [Obama] would tell me how his kids watched Sesame Street.” But instead the President-to-be told her that he and his little sister watched the show. “I realized that this is the first President young enough to say that.”

The Obamas clearly have a deeper personal connection to the show than their White House predecessors did; it was aimed, after all, at kids like them. (Full disclosure: I have a personal connection too; some of my friends work on Sesame Street, and they aren’t furry.) When Michelle Obama visited the set in Queens, N.Y., to talk about “healthy habits” a few weeks ago, she was practically fizzing. “I’m on a high,” she said. “I never thought I’d be on Sesame Street with Elmo and Big Bird.” Let it be noted that this visit came after she’d met the Queen of England at Buckingham Palace and welcomed Stevie Wonder to the White House and enjoyed all kinds of other not-too-bad perks of being First Lady. “I think it’s probably the best thing I’ve done so far in the White House.”

The President is every bit as much a product of the show, but it’s not just his age and mastery of the alphabet that make Obama the first Sesame Street President. The Obama presidency is a wholly American fusion of optimism, enterprise and earnestness — rather like the far-fetched proposal of 40 years ago to create a TV show that would prove that educational television need not be an oxymoron. Unlike Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans in their idyllic Treasure House, or the leafy land of the suburban sitcom, Sesame’s characters were colorful, their milieu was urban; there was noise and grime and grouches, and they hung out on the stoop, not the porch. Parents who were not white, not rich, not able to afford a fancy preschool knew this show was designed for them. Maybe it would level the playing field a little.

Read the rest of the article here. And watch President Obama’s message to Sesame Street.


~ by theboysisters on June 8, 2009.

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