Wednesday, August 3, 2011

OK, For Reals This Time - Should Snuffleupagus be Seen?

Last week we attempted to discuss the disputatious issue of whether it is better that everyone on Sesame Street can now see Snuffleupagus. It can be found HERE. As one would expect this quickly turned into a heated discourse on the ramifications to Hawaii’s tour industry by bringing them into the United States’ union. These things happen.

I still stand by my opinion that... no wait... I still stand by the FACT, that it is better that everyone can now see Snuffleupagus. Big Bird is no longer the village idiot - although the mental hardship from this decade long ordeal will obviously stay with him forever -  and kids across the world no longer fear that they too are a village idiot because only they and a giant yellow bird can see Snuffleupagus.

Pat, how say you?

Pat:  I’m down with that.

(note to blaudience: is it just me, or is it pretty clear that we’re dealing with some of Christian’s childhood insecurities here? HE was once that village idiot, right? Just checking).

Perhaps when the Children’s Television Workshop started their venture, they thought that a giant mammoth thing visible only to a giant bird thing would prompt creative thought and imagination among the young viewers. But in the more modern era, one in which we’re more sensitive to the real challenges people face, like depression, mental illness and the hysteria only women face as a result of owning a uterus ( ), I bet the CTW thought it more sensitive to not be perceived as making fun of people who see people who aren’t there (freaks, if you ask me, but that’s probably why I have not been recruited to write for the show). This is where my conservative relatives would make a plug for the Tea Party, because they have no problem spotlighting the crazies, which is good for ‘Merica!

So, wait. Did you want me to disagree with you on this one so that you can yet again tell me I’m wrong? Let me know and I can totally change my views. Anything for my friend, the former village idiot who talked to things that weren’t there.

Christian: You’re wrong! It has nothing to do with childhood insecurities. OK fine, I admit I had a few imaginary friends when I was young. OK, there were 14 of them. But at some point I noticed that they had started to hang out with each other on their own without me. I suspected that they had gotten into imaginary drugs so I kind of tried to distance myself from them. OK fine, they claimed I was too clingy and felt it best that I find some “real human” friends.  

Since then, I’ve looked a few of them up on imaginary Facebook but don’t worry I haven’t try to friend any of them. Just sort of occasionally check out their imaginary profiles to see what they’re up to. Totally harmless. I know it sounds like I‘m dangerously close to stalking my former imaginary friends but, come on, they’re the ones that filed for that imaginary restraining order.     

Anyways, as I said, my preference for everyone to see Snuffleupagus has nothing to do with former insecurities. When watching TV at that age you aren’t aware that shows are written and recorded ahead of time. You think everything is real and is happening right then and there. Even when watching re-runs. So every time Snuffleupagus appeared I would be praying that this would finally be the time. The time he is finally, finally, seen by everyone.

With the TV set glowing rays of hope at the young child me, the young me would be telling the me-self: These coincidences that call him away at the last second have got to stop at some point, right? I mean what are the odds that it’s going to happen yet again? It’s not statistically possible for it to happen again. Right? Right. This time it’s going to happen. It has to happen. I just know it!

It was maddening. I believe this is what led to my heavy addiction to scotch at age six.  

Pat:  I’ve thought a lot lately about the impact that television had on me as a child. I’ve thought about it largely because I watched A LOT of TV as a youth, so much so that I have trouble picturing what my family members look like, but I can describe in precise detail the faces of Jack, Janet and Chrissy (and Cindy and Terri), as well as the Ropers, Mr. Furley and Larry.  

Fearing that our kids will similarly forget what we look like (inconsiderate little turds!), we have gone the opposite route and forbid them from watching any TV. Instead, we let them play with paper dolls of our family (each one of “us” has a complete wardrobe of felt clothing), and they act out skits and plays by taping “us” to the blank TV screen. Then when they go to bed the missus and I put the dolls away, sit on the couch for three hours, and neglect to talk to each other as we watch Law & Order re-runs.

Oh yeah, but the impact it had on me as a kid! To be honest, the unseen Snuffleupagus never troubled me much. Too bad for the people who couldn’t see him. Their loss, y’know. You know what was really traumatic though? I never wanted to visit the American southwest because of the damned Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner! Did you ever notice how the background behind them just kept repeating? The same mesa, followed by the same arroyo, followed by the same cactus...over and over. Who the hell would want to go there, and where the hell were the two of them running? THAT will mess a kid up!

Christian: I just always assumed they were running in a circle with the camera that was “filming” them, being in the center of the circle. That’s why the background appeared to constantly repeat itself.  

But funny that you mention Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner because I also found them frustrating but more along the lines with what I was saying above about Snuffleupagaus. Again as I kid I always thought that at some point Wile E. Coyote had to catch the Roadrunner. It’s just simple laws of averages. Plus I always thought the Roadrunner was kind of a cocky prick and a little too righteous for my taste so I often found myself rooting for the the coyote to finally show that roadrunner what’s what. Plus it was hard not to feel sorry for the guy after getting one defective product after another from that ACME corporation. But each time the Roadrunner narrowly escaped the Coyote, often by breaking several laws of physics I might add, the six year old me would just toss back another lowball of Johnnie Walker.

I do have a final thought on this Snuffleupagus debate though. You said “Too bad for the people who couldn’t see him. Their loss, y’know.” This is true, it was their loss. But you know who the real loser in all this was? Big Bird. He’s definitely a loser.


  1. Sesame St had a problem staying in reality. I mean, Oscar had a bowling alley in his trash can? And elephants bowled there? The only way I could wrap my head around Oscar's humungous trash can was to decide that the can was just the opening to a vast series of tunnels and rooms that he had dug under Sesame St. Kinda like Vietnam, but with less Vietcong. I think, I honestly don't know. He had elephants and art treasures down there; he could have had Vietcong too.

  2. SO true, Megiweg! Snoopy's doghouse used to play the same sorta tricks on me, and made me constantly wonder why our house was small on the outside AND inside. Seemed so unfair!

  3. Ok, first of all, I missed this because it had Snuffahoweveryouspellit in the title so I thought I already read it.

    Christian, I feel your pain at having your imaginary friends snub you, those rat bastards, but I think you may have been projecting your own alienation onto the whole Big Bird/Snuffy dynamic. Also the scotch probably didn't help.

    Pat, I think the CTW is making a grave mistake to NOT show the freaks and the weirdos. The world is not filled with Elmo's (I hate that mealy-mouthed little twerp) and sometimes people live in magic garbage cans and have imaginary friends that betray them. Plus? Owning a uterus is kind of a burden.

  4. @Tumbleweed - This may be the scotch talking but if I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that Elmo had a uterus?

  5. Oh, Tumbleweed, you don't have to tell me twice! I've done my research and I KNOW how burdensome those uteri can be. I praise lords each day for my marbles!

    I can also get down with you on the freak thing. Watching Sesame Street always made me feel better about being from Eugene and wearing corduroy pants with a corduroy vest (with different wale width!), and something patchwork underneath. Freaks and weirdos are all good in my book!

  6. I searched and I searched and I found it! That ought to give me bonus points somehow, right? Anyway, that was exactly the point! Snuffleupagus couldn't be seen, because he WAS an imaginary friend! Like so many kids that have them. I screamed at the tv, too, and thought, surely this time they'll get to see him before he waddles off for some ridiculous reason, but that couldn't happen because he was really in Big Birds imagination. Until they went and ruined childhood magic. That's my take on it anyhoo :)_Can you tell I had an imaginary friend as a kid? :)

    1. Not just bonus points, but super bonus points! I see your point about him being Big Bird's imaginary friend, but couldn't the show at least prove it by having Suffleupagaus actually stick around when the adults showed up. And then when they all tell Big Bird they can't see him but Big Bird says he's right there, it would be settled. Imaginary. I just wanted some closure.