Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Theory - Sesame Street = Mental Institution

After having a kid and trying to shield him from the idiot box as long as possible, I have learned to keep his dosage of TV low. I try looking for retro things just for the low ADD feel. I also noticed that Sesame St's cultural marxism went full tilt after season 35. They might as well rename it Baby Marx Boulevard. Netflix has Sesame St. Classics available. While old, they are more letter and number oriented compared to the PC + cathedral messaging that stuff modern episodes. The characters are also much more Henson's original intent compared to newer episodes. Henson himself has some quirks. Watching the episodes and looking at the entire show, Sesame Street is a mental institution.
 
The humans on the show are considered authority figures compared to the monsters (puppets). The puppets are usually portrayed as infantile or young, needing help from the humans. For pre-1990 America, Sesame St was pretty diverse with whites, blacks and hispanics all interacting with the puppets. Children show up, but usually are poorly behaved, engage in the same delusions as the puppets and often there are handicapped children present. This isn't a surprise. Many asylums have children's wings. The adults are usually cleaning, listening, keeping order, performing maintenance (Luis) and teaching the puppets. The humans encourage the puppets to do art and use music to teach lessons (art therapy). There was an older white guy, Mr. Hooper, who ran a store that never charged anyone money for goods, but the goods were unique favorites of the puppets (birdseed shake, cookies, toys, etc.). The humans on the show are the nursing staff, orderlies and maintenance crew of the asylum. Mr. Hooper is the authority figure or doctor in charge of the asylum that provides the medication for the puppets.
 
The puppets are for the most part monsters. They are referred to as monsters often, and often have different value systems than the humans, which creates a weird split when events happen. These monsters live in the asylum. Let us review the puppets:
 
Oscar the Grouch - Hoarder obsessed with filth. He loves the opposite of what normal people value. He is insane as he has no understanding of right from wrong. When confronted with a reverse outcome, he will alter the meaning of it to be a positive for him. "Oh that ticks me off that my plan didn't work, but grouches love to be ticked off, so that's a win for me!"
 
Big Bird - Giant adult with the mind of a 5 year old. Despite his large size, he approaches the world as a 5 year old with rudimentary math and reading skills. He also suffers from hallucinations. He has an imaginary friend that no one else sees (Snuffy).
 
Cookie Monster - Prone to psychotic outbreaks with total disregard for the environment and anyone or anything around him. Obsessed with cookies. Addicted to cookies. Has eyes that are googly and does not know his own strength, which is common in boys who suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome.
 
Bert - Autistic grown adult. Obsessed with the weirdest things long after they have passed peak of popularity like bottlecaps and stamps. Pigeon obsession causes him to bird watch for the incredibly common pigeon, have pet pigeons and sometimes think he is a pigeon.
 
Ernie - Adult with infantile behavior and a literalist. Can not put things into context. Takes orders to the nth degree. Bugs people often as he does not understand boundaries.
 
Telly - Manic depressive with low self esteem. Bipolar mood changes on a whim. Trigger for manic phases is image of a triangle. Very self destructive at the slightest sign of failure.
 
Grover - Narcissist with delusions of grandeur. Hides fears and weaknesses in alter ego that is Super Grover who solves problems and fights crime, but often fails to do said feats.
 
The Count - A being who believes he is an aristocratic vampire from Europe who is obsessed with numbers and counting everything he sees (a touch of OCD). His name is Count Von Count, and his obsession runs so deep that he prefers to be called a verb, "Count".
 
Elmo - Manic personality who is also a narcissist. Speaks of himself in the third person to disassociate from his poor, infantile behavior. He has an entire world of make believe that he named "Elmo's World" where he spends a quarter of his time in.
 
Rarely if ever do the puppets' parents visit them, but the puppets do have memories of their parents and grandparents. These are shown as flashbacks, as if the puppets used to live at home but now live on Sesame St. Why would they ever leave home? They have to because they are monsters and must be taken care of by the staff at Sesame St. This also explains why the puppets can engage in the same delusional fantasy scene. They are all unique in their sickness, but they are all mentally ill. New staff members come and go, but the puppets/monsters always remain. They can never be let out into the real world.
 
This is just rambling of a dad who has Sesame St. on the TV a couple times a week. There is one weird thing though. Debates go on about Jim Henson being an Asperger's patient or not. Looking at the list of monsters above, some of them display autistic or Aspergery traits. Many fiction writers and artists write or create what they know. Looking at his birthdate, Henson would have been a teen in the late '40s and early '50s. A common approach to autism and Asperger's syndrome treatment in those days was to have children placed in homes or institutions to have around the clock care. Considering how recent the acceptance of mental disabilities and illnesses has been and the stigma of being in a mental institution, I can see why Henson would have denied or shushed any mention of him being an Asperger's kid. He was trying to make it in show business. Henson's dad was an agronomist for the US Dept of Agriculture (wiki), so Henson grew up with some material comfort. While Christian Scientists, therapy with well trained professionals does sound like something a middle to upper middle class family in the Beltway would do in mid-20th Century America. Their son might have even nicknamed some of his fellow patients. Put the proper uniforms on the humans of Sesame Street and turn the monsters into teens or adults forced to live there, and it's easy to see how Sesame Street was a loony bin.

3 comments:

Dr. Love Spanking said...

This was really fun to read. As soon as I read the title I immediately thought of that old Creepypasta tale about the show Ed, Edd & Eddy being a purgatory and all the characters having died while still teenagers at various moments in the 20th century; the Polish teen was an immigrant killed during the very early 20th century, and so on down the line. They’re all stuck within this one neighborhood because each died before reaching adulthood.

Here’s the link to the text. http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100810210638/creepypasta/images/d/d5/Ed_Edd_and_Eddy.png

Search for the word purgatory here and you’ll find a shorthand version of the theory. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/WMG/EdEddNEddy

Here’s a guy reading the above text. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJbENqvdyz0

These surreal theories about children's shows are always enthralling to think about.

Anonymous said...

Children's stories used to be much more realistic and displayed various truths within the tale.

Nowadays, in the modern Enlightened liberal secular world, there is fake "teenage" phase of humanity and its widened beyond its usual timing.

Christine said...

I have thought of this myself. Great minds think alike! I thought of Cookie Monster as maybe being on the autism spectrum because of his obsession with cookies.