Sesame Street Week: Day 5 – What Does Sesame Street Mean to You?

What Does Sesame Street Mean to You?
Last week on both Muppet Central and ToughPigs forums, I asked the members this question: “What Does Sesame Street Mean to You?” I wanted to know from the show’s biggest and most supportive fans why Big Bird, Elmo, Grover, and the rest of the Street mean so much to them. Their responses really provide insight as to how the Street has affected generations of fans.

“Sesame Street gave my imagination a kickstart. Before I could even speak full sentences I used to make my teddies ‘talk’ to each other saying “Doobie doobie doo”. I’ve always seen pictures, faces and living objects in the world around me. I’m obsessed with colours and see the world from a different perspective to people around me. I hold Sesame Street responsible for this, despite the fact I can only remember a few sketches from the show as a child. My parents have told me the show always kept my enraptured for an hour a day as a kid, and I think it subconsciously changed my perceptions of the world around me. The world is SUCH an amazing place.” ~ Beauregard (Muppet Central Forum)
“Sesame Street… It’s a great program. No question about that. Kids can learn, and have fun too. And it was successful! Sesame Street is part of the fabric of our culture, and so many other countries’. I hardly ever watched it when I was younger, but now, when I look at clips from it, I see just how great of an idea it was. Take the “The Triangle Is Right” sketch. Adults and older children will laugh at the pointless game show, and younger kids will love to see some of the Street’s familiar cast memembers–Guy Smiley and Prairie Dawn–and they’ll learn about triangles. Sesame Street appeals to all age groups, and that is what you need with a children’s program – not repetitiveness that makes anyone older than 6 want to get out of the room.” ~ Henry (ScootertheGofer from Muppet Central Forum)
“Sesame Street was my first experience of real diversity. I grew up in rural Australia, so much of my need to take in the complexity of life on Earth came from TV, films, music, magazines and books. If I trace it back I see that Sesame Street showed me the world could unite, despite and because of it’s differences… And over the years it only expanded that vision.” ~ Peter Savieri (ToughPigs Forum)

“Sesame Street means almost everything to me. I can’t remember when I first watched it, but among the first words I can remember being able to spell are Ernie, Kermit, and Muppet. I had a lot of Sesame Street books, I have some albums, and I have many Sesame Street videos and DVDs. I’ve seen a handful of Sesame Street Live shows. I visit almost every day. Sesame Street is probably the only show where I can remember the original broadcast date (November 10, 1969) off-hand without checking.

Thanks, Sesame Street, to 40 wonderful years and still counting.” ~ Michael Wermuth, Jr. (minor_muppetz from Muppet Central Forum)

“Sesame Street for me means so many things I almost can’t put into words. It’s almost like a home or a family – you turn on the TV and your friends are always there for you. I owe so much to Sesame Street. I learned my ABC’s but I also learned about life by watching them each day. I’m so grateful to have grown up in a time period that included it and hope to someday share it with my future children.” ~ Beth Kondrick (redBoobergurl from Muppet Central Forum)
“Being about three years younger than Sesame Street, I’m so excited seeing it just as strong and influential as ever (and a bit chagrined knowing that my own 40th birthday won’t be too much longer!) Sesame was such a major part of my life as a child – and looking back it’s clear just how much that influence stays with me almost four decades later.
Much of this past decade (and the last few years in particular) has been made up of incredible hardships and its mainly been the sense of humor and coping skills that the Muppet mentality had instilled in me that’s kept me going and alive today. All in all, Sesame Street and the Muppets have shaped my life and personality tremendously and i thank the whole team for it.” ~ D.W. McKim (Muppet Central Forum)
“To me, Sesame Street was more than just a TV show. I remember watching hours of just that show as a child, and I even still watch it now from time to time. The show managed to teach kids in a way they enjoy it using cute puppets and sweet catchy songs, rather than just lecturing them in a classroom. The show not only taught children things like numbers and the alphabet but also deep meaningful values. For example, we all know how cute and fun the songs “It’s Not Easy Being Green” and “I’m Proud to be a Cow” are, but they also teach the important lesson of being proud of yourself for who you are. Sesame Street has been an important part of several children’s lives for 40 years now, and I am proud to admit that I was and still am one of them.” ~ GelflingGirl (Muppet Central Forum)
“My life was changed a lot by Sesame Street. Sure, there were other programs out there that could possibly compare to Sesame, but once I first saw it at age 3 I knew that it was truly the best children’s show out there. I watched the show during the 1998-2000 period, from age 3-5. I have many fond memories of the show, including the many days that I watched those classic Bert and Ernie sketches with my father and he laughed more than I, or all of those instances where my grandmother would just break into “C is for Cookie” while I was at her house. On another note, once when I went to a SST Live show and I was escorted backstage to look at all of the props and such. I loved it so much because of all of the humor, the happiness on the street, and eventually I respected it for what it taught me about life and how to accept all people, no matter. I started watching it again in 2007 at age 12 and I still adore it to this day.” ~ ohtherain (Muppet Central Forum)
“It’s so hard to sum up Sesame Street either generally or personally without writing an entire book about it all. Yes, how it’s impacted millions of kids around the world and taught everything from numbers to tolerance to what not to do if there is a monster in your mirror. To me it’s something that serves as a sort of connector for people, a way of understanding, of bringing the universe together using these shared experiences. Okay, maybe that’s just corny, but if you didn’t speak a word of Japanese, someone over there would probably recognize a reference to Kermit the Frog.
It’s impossible to forget or grow tired of, whether it’s just nostalgia or something life-shaping; no one outgrows their need for Sesame Street– the need to laugh and learn and sometimes just be a kid and EAT COOKIES! No one ever really leaves Sesame Street, what’s sad are the people who try to leave.” ~ APRena (Muppet Central Forum)
“For me, Sesame Street has influenced me as an artist, with the elaborate puppetry and always excellent music and animations; it has influenced much of my work. Half of my mixed media artworks get remarks claiming it reminds people of Sesame Street.

The humour used on the show, has been instrumental in forming my own style of humour. Doing occasional stand up and being a songwriter; Sesame Street’s skit based visual humour and wordplay helped give me a healthy sense of humour. And as someone currently writing a musical; I find myself again and again refering back to “The Street” when inspiration runs flat.” ~ The Shoe Fairy (Muppet Central Forum)

“Sure, we can say all we want about about how funny Ernie and Bert are, how much we love Pinball Number Count and hate Elmo, but that’s not what Sesame Street means to me at all. There has never been a greater cultural phenomenon as big as Sesame Street. Not fleetingly popular stuff like Pokemon or Dora or anything like that. Not even long lasting shows like the Simpsons and Saturday Night Live that had a major cultural impact. No. This show built an empire. A Children’s television empire that no one has been able to emulate since the first show in 1969. We saw the amazing collaboration between a start up company and Jim Henson, as well as so many others. Even the famous animator, John Hubley. The people who worked on the show in it’s 40 year history (and even its prehistory) give a list that’s far more than impressive. And look at the show’s reach. All those great co-productions for other countries so their kids can grow up not thinking about their country’s problems. A puppet character teaching kids about HIV, and all with a smile on its face, acting like a normal person? Ha! I’d like to see Romper Room or Blue Clues reach their hands out that far to comfort the world’s children.

Sure, Sesame Street means a lot to my childhood…. and yours, and yours and yours… but it goes beyond that. Sesame Street IS the magic and wonder of childhood. Not just for us, not just for our children, for people we never even know exist! it’s more than just some cartoon, or kid’s show. It’s a global outreach that employs artists. The characters are part of who we are… even the tiny obscure ones.” ~ Drtooth (Muppet Central Forum)

“Would you believe me if I told you I didn’t watch Sesame Street as a child?

It’s true. That was before they told you the whole plot right away. I’m told that the first time I sat down to watch Sesame Street, when they cut to the first “commercial break,” I thought the show was over and started crying. Really! I devoted my childhood television hours to Mr. Rogers and Barney. I don’t want anyone to get the impression that my childhood was Sesameless. Au contraire! Mommy watched a bunch of neighborhood kids when I was little. Sesame Street was definitely around.

My earliest Sesame memories are just snapshots of a few bits and sketches… Ernie sitting on the moon and singing, animated numbers, outlines of squares and rectangles in windows and buildings, cartoon water drops coming out of a faucet singing “Don’t waste water water water!”

Then there was Follow That Bird. We had the VHS, and watched it… who knows how many times. A lot. Of course, I’ve watched it so many times in recent years that I don’t remember what I USED to remember of it… but it was a fond memory, indeed. I was utterly thrilled when I found the DVD in the bargain bin at WalMart, and no amount of “You’re HOW old now?” eye-rolls from my mother could change that!

But the fundamental part of Sesame Street in my childhood was the music. My sisters had a Sesame Street record that would come out every few years and play again and again for weeks on end… That is still the version of “Somebody Come and Play” that sticks in my head, and I haven’t heard it in years and years. I think we lost the record at some point… Tragic loss, that. But we still have our great big Sesame Street piano book. We’ve had that as long as I can remember. I STILL don’t know all of the songs in it. It has everything from the Theme Song to Big Bird’s “Tall Enough” to “The Word is No” to “True Blue Miracle.” I don’t know what I was thinking, leaving it at home while I’m at college. That and a rubber duckie… both are yellow and Sesame. …I guess I associate the color yellow with Sesame Street. I can’t BEGIN to imagine why… Oh, hi Big Bird!

Sesame Street, to me, is a safe place. It’s somewhere I can go to relax, and go back to the basics… the ABC’s and 1-2-3’s of life. Get a good laugh, a good cheer… a good emotional suntan, basically. A healthy dose of yellow.

Yeah… that’s what Sesame Street means to me. A healthy dose of yellow… and somewhere, in the back of my mind, those darned singing water drops.” ~ TogetherAgain (Muppet Central Forum)

If you would like to tell us what Sesame Street means to you, comment on this article or tell us on Facebook!

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