Lisa de Moraes on Katy Perry's 'Sesame Street' controversy

"Sesame Street" producers pull video with pop star Katy Perry due to parents' complaints about her outfit.
By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, September 24, 2010

Sesame Workshop has issued a statement explaining why it canceled plans to air a video of pop singer Katy Perry singing a duet with show's puppet character Elmo on the iconic public television kids show "Sesame Street." The decision to yank Perry's video performance, which was scheduled to air later in the year, came after the Decency Police saw the video online and got their cami-knickers in a bunch over Katy's outfit.

On the bright side, as one commenter on YouTube noted, "Wow, Sesame Street just got cool again."

Sesame Workshop, which produces "Sesame Street," issued the following long-ish statement, which we bring to you in its entirety because it's a great read:

Sesame Street has a long history of working with celebrities across all genres, including athletes, actors, musicians and artists. Sesame Street has always been written on two levels, for the child and the adult. We use parodies and celebrity segments to interest adults in the show because we know that a child learns best when co-viewing with a parent or care-giver. We also value our viewer's opinions and particularly those of parents. In light of the feedback we've received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on You Tube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers. Katy Perry fans will still be able to view the video on You Tube.

The Perry/Elmo video had, however, been expunged from the official YouTube "Sesame Street" page, which had been washed down with lye.

The video is, happily, still available on YouTube and elsewhere. In fact, Perry tweeted helpfully Thursday afternoon: "Wow, looks like my play date with Elmo has been cut short! If you still wanna play, see it at Tag you're it, Elmo!"

And, because no TV Column about kids and, um, TV would be complete without a statement from watchdog group Parents Television Council, here's a taste of its reaction to the news:

The PTC applauds our friends at Sesame Workshop for choosing not to air the Elmo video with Katy Perry


We are grateful to Sesame Workshop for their prudent action in this matter; and more importantly, we are grateful for their decades of service to children and families across the world.

This is in marked contrast to what Melissa Henson, PTC's director of communications and public education, had whipped up on Wednesday and dashed off to reporters before learning Sesame Workshop had pulled the plug.

"Has Sesame Street completely sold out, grooming today's preschoolers to become tomorrow's MTV viewers?" Henson wondered.

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