This here is a post where I confess that I let my child watch television.
I grew up with Sesame Street. The first time I watched it with my daughter I discovered that there was now an Indian-American woman on the show. I cried when I saw this. I never saw images of people on television that looked like me when I was growing up and so when I saw Leela, I cried. These were tears of happiness and relief.
I am happy with all the things my daughter learns from this show: letters, shapes, numbers, dance, music, and vocabulary. And quite often the different segments of Sesame Street are entertaining for adults as well. I am entertained when I sit to watch it with her and she is safely preoccupied when I need to get some work done. It’s a win/win situation in my mind.
Sometime last month the word on the street was “deciduous.” When the leaves started falling off the trees Little Lotus Bud and I started our daily walks where we collect pine cones, crow feathers and brightly colored Autumn leaves. We would stop to gather and she would point to the trees and say “deciduous.” I felt justified in letting her watch television.
In the same way that Sesame Street has re-entered my life, it has made an appearance in the lives of those interested in the upcoming election. Ever since the night of the first presidential debate, Big Bird has moved to the center of the political arena. The issue, which I’m sure you all are aware of, is whether media institutions such as PBS and NPR should continue to receive federal subsidies – all fueled by the Republican candidate’s statement not to continue such funding.
I am torn about this. Back when Sesame Street started it was a much needed cultural development, but it no longer needs such support. Sesame Street is a solid part of children’s programming in the States and it really is in no danger of disappearing. If federal funding was pulled, I have no doubt that financial support from PBS viewers would continue. It is similar to NPR which would also remain strong with listener’s support. But there is the principle of the darn thing. Perhaps our government should continue to provide a minimal amount of subsidies because in doing so it says that diverse, educational programming is important to the children of this country.
But honestly speaking, I don’t care. Because I have little patience for political rhetoric. Of course there are issues that I care deeply about but these occur mostly on the state level. Voting “no” against the amendment to limit marriage rights and the amendment on voter IDs are the two major issues in Minnesota’s elections next month. I care about these two. But I do not care to hear presidential candidates talk about Big Bird. There are much more important matters to attend to such as jobs, environmental sustainability, health care, etc, etc.
What I do appreciate about all this hoopla about Big Bird are the funny responses. Here are two that I particularly enjoyed:
- From 90 Days, 90 reasons – Big Bird’s response.
- From the Stir – Jenny Isenman’s speculation about the Street losing it’s funding.
Finally, here are two articles from the Huffington Post that explain why this should matter to me and I just might be convinced:
Maybe next time the word on the Street should be “civic engagement.”
I can just her now saying “no, Mommy, that’s two words!”