Look, I get it.Big Bird is a sentimental hero.
Everyone who’s over 40 remembers watching Big Bird when they were kids. Big Bird and Mr. Snuffleupagus.
If there was nothing else on, which in those days, there often wasn’t, Big Bird was a fine stand-by. And thanks to the “letter of the day” and “the count” and so forth your parents could tell themselves you were watching something “educational,” so the blowback wasn’t so bad.
But that was 40 years ago.
In the past 40 years, you may have noticed, kids’ entertainment options have evolved.
For one thing, there are video games. Then there are iPads, iPhones, and iPods. There’s Netflix. YouTube. Video-on-demand. Apple TV. And then, for those in really desperate straits, there’s television.
Have you watched kids’ television recently?
I remember a few years ago, when I accidentally channel-surfed past Sesame Street while on my way to one of the cartoon channels. I went back to Sesame Street under the nostalgically mistaken assumption that my kids might like it.
My kids were certainly momentarily curious about it — what’s with the guy in the big yellow bird suit? But the curiosity was only momentary.
By that time, you see, my kids were already connoisseurs of the 900-odd TV shows that we didn’t have when I was a kid that are now immensely more entertaining than Big Bird.
- Dora (the Explorer)
- Miffy (a bunny)
- Maisy (a mouse)
- Teletubbies (2 year-olds are glued)
- Arthur (a mouse)
- Caillou (a boy?)
- Cyberchase (aliens)
- Buster (a rabbit)
- Clifford (a dog)
- Maya & Miguel
- WordGirl (Word Girl is awesome. And HUGE in our house. And educational!)
There are dozens of others. And that’s even before you get to commercial TV, which of course is a thousand times more addictive.
(Yes, most of those are PBS shows. I’d like to see PBS survive, and I gather that the federal subsidy only accounts for a small percentage of its budget, so hopefully it can even if the subsidy is cut. But we’re specifically talking here about Big Bird…)
My kids are too old for those shows now, but I couldn’t have paid them to watch Sesame Street.
I’m glad I had Big Bird when I was a kid, because there was nothing else on.
But the world has long since moved on.
(And, no offence to Big Bird, but if he were on a network show, he’d have been killed off about 30 years ago. There’s a reason they aren’t making new episodes of “Happy Days” or “The Brady Bunch” anymore.)
If we are ever to get our budget deficit under control, we’re going to have to make some hard choices. And if it comes to choosing between food stamps and new Big Bird episodes, I’m happy to get my nostalgic geriatric Big Bird fix from YouTube.
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