Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sesame Street, children's programming and the electronic babysitter

One advantage of being the mother of a two-year-old is that you can watch Sesame Street and be like, "SEE! IT'S STILL AWESOME! I'M WATCHING THIS WITH MY KID! DON'T JUDGE ME!"

I remember when K. posted something about old school Sesame Street and how awesome it was. While she does have a point, I have to say that some of the new Sesame Street is pretty damn awesome.

Case in point: The Shoe Fairy!

How often do you see Neil Patrick Harris wearing fairy wings and singing about shoes? It's just been one of those little things that makes me want to keep watching the show, even though I'm using the TV as a momentary getaway so I can get chores done.

I've also found myself sitting enraptured watching this:

And even though it's buried in Elmo's World (WHICH IS CRACK FOR TODDLERS), Mr. Noodle is pretty awesome:

Bill Irwin has some great silent physical comedy. And the Mr. Noodle segment is totally a haven for Broadway stars like Michael Jeeter and Kirstin Chenoweth.

YES. I SAID IT. I USE MY TV AS A BABYSITTER SOMETIMES. You try making dinner with a tiny howler monkey attempting to pants you or climb up to see the stove and add sugar as a spice. Or take apart the coffee maker. Or pants you. Try it. Then come back to me and tell me how I shouldn't use TV as a babysitter.

But all of this discussion has a point -- sort of. Bear with me.

I remember discussing this with K. about how some children's media (TV, music, whatever), seems more aimed to the parents than the kids. I don't mind a little nod and wink to the parents (see the Mad Men skit on Sesame Street), but sometimes I wonder if some of the children's media is being marketed more to the adults than the kids.

This doesn't mean that children's programming is watered-down drivel that makes you want to drive an ice pick into your brain. Some of my favorite children's books have some rather deep themes. Neil Gaiman has some great children's books (The Day I Traded My Dad for Two Goldfish is a SCREAM). Wallace and Gromit are a lot of fun for adults and children.

But I think that there's a line -- when the majority of the children's stuff has content going over the kid's head and is aimed at the adult in the room, I think that's a sign that you're not making children's programming. And I feel like I see a lot of that, which bugs me. Because really, who are you marketing to? If you're not including my kid in the conversation, my kid is going to be bored and I will notice that you're not catering to her.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you're making a great point. Unfortunately, I fear it's going to go over the heads of marketing people. They see you having money and your kid not, thus they wonder why they should market to her. But they do know that if they can convince you they care about her, you might give them some of that money. It's stupid and evil (and doesn't work as well as just making good stuff for the kids in the first place), but marketers don't seem to consider "content" part of the equation most of the time. And it's depressing. That's part of why I started An Ad a Day.