Mitt Romney, in Wednesday night’s debate in Denver, spoke of funding he would cut if elected. And he singled out one of the fixtures of PBS’s Sesame Street: Big Bird.
“I’m sorry, Jim,” Romney told moderator Jim Lehrer, “I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS. I love Big Bird.”
But that’s the end of the line for the feathered monster.
And I for one would be grateful.
Frankly, I have always had problems with Big Bird. I don’t know what he is. He is six years old, according to the show’s count, but I have suspicions that he is in fact a fully grown man in a bird suit.
He is eight feet and two inches tall, according to the Muppet Wiki, and he keeps flip-flopping on the subject of his species. One minute he’s a lark. The next he’s part canary. The next he’s a Bigus Canarius. He needs to get his story straight. One of his catch-phrases is “Asking questions is a good way to find things out!” But no one is asking this bird the right questions.
At best, he’s a six year-old flightless bird who lives alone, even though he thinks the entire alphabet is one word. At worst, he’s a dinosaur. (The more we learn about them, the more they sound like Big Bird. I just think it’s a possibility we should consider.)
Maybe Mitt knows something about Big Bird that we don’t, like that he is responsible for the massive growth in entitlement spending, or that if we just fired him he would be able to turn the manufacturing sector around. Maybe that’s why he wants him gone — even though Sesame Street notes they receive little funding from PBS.
I am not a muppet hater. But I would be curious if Big Bird is capable of supporting himself without government aid. He sounds like a 47 percenter to me — have you ever seen him pay taxes? Just because you are six years old and a bird does not mean I should have to pay for entitlements like food. Who is paying for the lavish nest that he shares with his teddy bear, Radar? Where are the adults in his life?
Is Granny Bird still claiming him as a dependent on her forms? What happened to the case worker who placed him with a family of dodos? Notice how we never heard from her again.
When is he going to get a job? He can’t still be six years old. That is not how time works. I am no longer six, and Big Bird was six before I was.
Actually, that is the main trouble with Sesame Street now. I am no longer six, and now I realize that the Count has severe OCD and maybe should get help. I am no longer six, and the Cookie Monster needs to get his eating under control. I am no longer six, and when I hear the name “Grover” I assume someone wants me to sign a tax pledge. Before, it was a gaggle of lovable singing monsters who wanted to sing me the alphabet, and now I am supposed to have political feelings about it. There are petitions for Bert and Ernie to get married. Never mind that muppets do not exist below the waist. We are no longer six, and when you’ve lived together for decades and tend plants together, we stop assuming you are roommates.
Get to Sesame Street and there is dysfunction lurking everywhere. Oscar lives in a garbage can, in spite of the fact that PBS has received federal funding for years. Elmo — don’t get me started on Elmo. Elmo has no particular political or lifestyle problems, but his voice and insistence on using the third person are intensely annoying. Why are our children watching this? Get them away! If they want to watch the unnerving shenanigans of grown men dressed as tuskless mammoths, there are places on the Internet for that.
Sure, the Internet loves Big Bird. The Internet loves all things Sesame Street, just as we love 90s retrospectives and images of Justin Timberlake before he realized how wardrobes worked. It brings us back to middle school, elementary school — to when we were six. To hate Big Bird is to say that something was wrong with our childhoods. But this has clouded our judgment. Just because we remember something from our youth does not make it good. We remember dial-up.
But even Mitt Romney knows you cannot hate Big Bird. That would be like not loving Big Brother. You have to pledge lip service to the giant avian before you strap him to your car and drive away. And good riddance, say I. Sharing? Being true to yourself? Growing familiar with letters? All well and good. But they’ve been on the air for decades. Now they just sing inane duets with Will.I.Am, make True Blood parodies, and cover Carly Rae Jepsen.
You can’t be six forever. End the bird.