Occupy Sesame Street


He’s in that jar because he’s been evicted from his home! (Katherine Frey/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Then it hit Main Street, and I clung to my guns and my religion and snarled angrily at passersby.

But when it hit Sesame Street, I knew something was really the matter.

A special on Hunger in America features a new muppet — Lily — who has to deal with food insecurity on a daily basis.

I know Sesame Street likes to keep up with the times — remember True Mud, their “True Blood” parody? Every topical issue makes it on somehow. Cookie Monster declared that “cookies are a sometimes food.” Bert and Ernie have been bromancing for years. Elmo is probably some sort of communist.

Katy Perry’s cleavage even made an almost-cameo.

But now there’s food insecurity?

It’s one thing to watch real people suffer. But if our fictional characters are hurting, this must be a crisis. Fictional suffering is the one thing we can’t abide. Slavery lasted for years. But only when Uncle Tom’s Cabin came out with fictional characters in pain did the general public start getting up in arms.

Times are tough enough when we have to tighten our own belts.

But when muppets have to tighten theirs, it’s serious. I didn’t know muppets even wore belts.

Once you start thinking of these characters as real people, all kinds of troubles emerge. There wasn’t food insecurity on Sesame Street before? One of the characters lives in a garbage can and, I think, eats garbage.

And don’t get me started on that Count, who clearly has some sort of crippling OCD and really could stand some orthodontic help. Not only that, none of the characters seem to age, and I am pretty sure Big Bird is a grown man in a bird suit who hangs out with preschool-age children.

Still, if the recession can penetrate to Sesame Street, then nothing is safe. Next they’ll be foreclosed and moving to another, more dangerous street — Avenue Q, even. The letters and numbers who gamely bring us each show will pull out their sponsorship and cheap knock-off letters will show up and sponsor episodes like “K is for Check Kashing” and “Я is for People Need To Respect The Cyrillic Alphabet More.”

Wall Street’s fine, now.

Main Street’s still hurting.

But Sesame Street?

This is a crisis.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".

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