Gunning For Big Bird

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 4 2012 @ 3:25pm

Mary Elizabeth Williams spotlights the significance of Sesame Street:

What Romney, in his adorably out-of-touch way, failed to grasp with that statement is that practically every American under the age of 50 has a powerful childhood association with that goofy oversize lug. An entire generation can trace its first understanding of death to the moment that Big Bird let it sink in that “Mr. Hooper’s not coming back.” And another generation learned about loss and community and resilience after 9/11 when “Sesame Street” had Big Bird’s own nest destroyed in a storm. (The show aired Big Bird’s odyssey again after Katrina.) And I defy even a robotic millionaire to get through Big Bird’s choked up rendition of “It’s Not Easy Being Green” at Jim Henson’s memorial service and not completely lose it when he says, “Thank you, Kermit.”

She thinks Romney is messing with the wrong bird:

[D]espite coming out of the evening looking stronger than he has in weeks — Romney made the error of looking like a man who is not on the side of innocence, whimsy, learning or childhood. Nor did he seem to grasp that Big Bird is an integral part of a show that was created for and remains at its core about community and diversity, one that has for decades been an essential tool in helping low-income children prepare for school. Going after Big Bird is like putting down baseball and rainbows and YouTube videos of otter pups. You just don’t.

Dean Obeidallah agrees:

Maybe Mitt Romney and the rest of us simply had a different childhood. To be A4YiLU2CcAArDXkbrutally honest, when I was a child, my family couldn’t afford day care and often TV was a substitute for that. The neighbor upstairs would be around for emergencies, but my sister and I would be plopped in front of the TV — and particularly “Sesame Street.”

Big Bird and the Muppets were not just a TV show to us — they were, on some level, our friends. And more important, they taught us things before we ever stepped foot in school. I’m pretty sure I learned about the letter “C” from Cookie Monster

Laura Clawson points out that defunding PBS isn’t popular:

A 2011 poll found 69 percent of voters opposed to defunding PBS. People like Big Bird. And that’s even though another 2011 poll found that PBS gets more of the federal budget than it does. Much more: 30 percent of people thought PBS gets 5 percent or more of the federal budget, and another 40 percent believed it gets between 1 percent and 5 percent. The actual share of the federal budget PBS was getting at the time was .00014 percent. 

Or as one nerd puts it:

(Image via Kaczynski)