Let’s face it, without Joan Ganz Cooney I’d just be some lunatic on the street ranting to myself about singing turtles and pirates. With Joan Ganz Cooney I have turned the fantasy world I live in 100% of the time into a lucrative career. The WiCMinos were lucky enough to be invited to the Museum of the Moving Image (if you haven’t been there go, it’s awesome) in Queens for an evening with the aforementioned children’s television rock star.
Ms. Cooney talked a bit about the origins of our favorite fictional street. At the time when Sesame Street was conceived she was working at Thirteen and she noticed that children all over the country were singing beer commercials. Joan thought if they can learn that from watching TV couldn’t they learn something practical like their ABCs? Research showed that disadvantage kids went to school not knowing the basics that their more privileged counterparts knew. Sesame Street was designed to bring everyone up to speed by creating a sort of Laugh-In for kids. Of course at the time, the common perception was that kids had short attention spans, something that we know now just isn’t true especially if you’ve seen a child patiently waiting for Dora to listen to them and choose the right path.
Some fun facts about the Street:
Initially Henson didn’t want to do it. He didn’t want to do something that was just for kids. Thank goodness he changed his mind.
The first episodes also didn’t have puppets on the street. Advisors didn’t want to mix the fantasy of the puppets with the reality of the real urban street setting. Of course, the kids thought that was Bor.Ing.
Those are the highlights, or at least the things I jotted down that were legible in my little old-fashioned blogger notebook. I’d write more but I have to go mutter to myself about pirates and dinosaurs that ride trains. Though of course not all together. That would be crazy.
Main Takeaway: Though I kid, none of us would be here if Sesame Street didn’t strike a chord with children and parents in 1969. The show continues to be hugely popular and I believe the headline “Politicians Threaten To Kill Big Bird” is the main thing that keeps funding coming for shows on PBS. It reminds us of everything that was imaginative and awesome about our childhood and even those nasty politicians don’t want to kill that.
Personal Takeaway: Was the above observation not personal enough for you? I even hinted at politics! The only politics I ever talk about have to do with gender discrimination issues at competitive eating contests. Mama always said never talk about politics or money in dinner party conversation or on the internet. That’s right, my mother predicted the invention of the internet back in the ‘70s, take that Al Gore. Oh no, more politics!
Inappropriate Takeaway: This is inappropriate just because I couldn’t believe it happened. As a person who considers herself to be very genderblind when dealing with people, the fact that stories like this exist shock me time after time. Someone asked Joan if she had ever had difficulty being a woman in the business. She said some funders wondered if a woman would be taken seriously in the role of President and Chief Executive Officer. She was actually asked to make a list of men she would recommend for HER job. In the end, she refused to act as deputy with someone else in charge. Right on!