Sesame Street may be an unlikely topic to come up at a presidential debate, but nonetheless, Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney managed to get a zinger in about government subsidization of PBS and how he would not allow that to continue in his potential presidency. The moderator was Jim Lehrer, a longtime compatriot to PBS, to help you get an idea of where Romney was even coming from. Obama didn’t seem to have a comeback in the heat of the moment, but on the campaign trail the next morning, he mocked Romney for “getting tough on Big Bird.” And Elmo, too, maybe.
Well, if we can talk about Big Bird and Elmo in a presidential debate, why not another prominent figure on the popular children’s television show? Oscar the Grouch has been residing in an aluminum trash can for upwards of twenty years. Where is the government assistance for Oscar? Why is he still the poorest damn character on Sesame Street? What is PBS trying to say?
They call him “Grouch.” As Dave Chapelle once said in a hilarious stand-up, of course he’s a grouch. HE LIVES IN A TRASH CAN. Oscar can’t get any help on Sesame Street. Oscar isn’t feeling the love. He’s taken up permanent residence in a trash can and the other characters on Sesame Street regard him as just an anomaly to the otherwise blissful Sesame Street scene. When will Oscar get some help, and what exactly is his character supposed to mean to us?
Maybe Sesame Street needs some backstory. How did Oscar come to be homeless and living in the trash can, and why does the show necessarily tie those two concepts together? It almost seems like they want us to think that Oscar DESERVES to live in the trash can because of his grouchy attitude. Well maybe it’s true. Maybe Oscar doesn’t aspire to be something more in his life on Sesame Street. Maybe Oscar needs a little motivation, a little inspiration, a little something to rise above the aluminum and find his way in the apparently harsh economic realities of the street.
Where’s welfare for Oscar? Does he get health insurance? Did Oscar ever hold a steady job, and if so, did he pay into Social Security? Does Oscar get a government check? Is he a drug addict? Would Oscar be in the Sesame Street Correctional Facility if he wasn’t sponging off the neighborhood?
Forget Big Bird. At the next debate, I want to hear about Oscar the Grouch.