Forget "The Interpreter," Sesame Street is Where It’s At

Forget "The Interpreter," Sesame Street is Where It’s At

With all due respect to the hand-wringing over whether “The Interpreter” is too pro-UN (an impossibility in America’s current political climate, but I digress), you guys have missed the boat. Witness this: I’m watching Sesame Street with my daughter this morning and the muppets are in a furor. They can’t agree on who should start singing the Alphabet Song. Zoe is angry because Elmo always wants to start it himself. (I think this is because Elmo has gotten arrogant with his riches from Tickle-Me-Elmo a few years ago. This wouldn’t have happened if Kermit was still around.)

Anyway, who steps in? Kofi Annan. Yes, I’m serious.

“Who are you,” some random muppet asks. “I am Kofi Annan, the Secretary General of the United Nations,” he explains. (My daughter just kept staring. Nobody said public diplomacy would be easy.)

After they tell Kofi what was up, he explains that “There is no problem; you simply need to cooperate. You can all sing the Alphabet Song together.” At which point the muppets do. They are so happy, they all want to congratulate each other and Kofi. More strife as they jostle to get to be the first to congratulate each other. (Note this sophisticated comment on the fact that institutional cooperation can lead to meta-conflicts arising from the very success of the institution. Robert Keohane and Stephen Krasner have each written about this. I bet they had a part in scripting the muppet exchange. Or maybe not.)

Then Telly Monster says “I know! Let’s do this the United Nations way!” (Conflict resolution via shared norms propagated by a common institution.)

And Elmo cries: “Yeah! Group hug!!!!” And all the muppets and Kofi Annan hug each other at the same time. (I assume any similarities to the Teletubbies’ use of “Big Hug” and/or to the Abu Ghraib “pile on” pictures was purely coincidental.)

So, guys, get with it. Sidney Pollack is fine but, really, you gotta catch’em in pre-school. But I might be reading too much into this…

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Love it. We need more people checking out children’s television.



This is brilliant! I’ve sent it to all my friends with young children. As if it weren’t enough to make over Cookie Monster into “Responsible Eating” Monster, now this. Alas, Sesame Street has seen better days…