Surely during ratings season, Sesame Street couldn’t possibly be using a PR controversy to drive publicity and viewership. Could they?
Background to the story is that singer songwriter Katy Perry appeared in a video segment on Sesame Street. Apparently, some parents complained, Perry’s dress up costume is too “racy” for children.
Great! A controversy right at the start of Fall sweeps.
Opponents quickly lined up and fired shots at each other. Mary Thatcher at Associated Content writes in Katy Perry Video for “Sesame Street”: Too Racy, or Too Lame Brained? that the show, which usually teaches kids the alphabet, numbers and reading, has strayed into, gasp, “sexuality.”
Thatcher calls Perry’s bridal veil “tacky” and the shot of the attractive Perry’s legs “unnecessary by all standards.” She sums up by calling the video “more stupid then racy” and labels the pop star as “lacking in the talent department.”
Most kids’ shows I’ve watched with my children have been both “lame” and usually very silly. That’s what works! Clearly some think the devil’s at work again on Sesame Street.
As Search Engine Journal’s Yvonne Bell put it in Katy Perry and Elmo Video Leak; Youtube, Sesame Street PR Stunt? “It is Katy Perry, they are not going to put her in a potato sack – that’s not her thing.”
Bell adds, “What toddler even thinks in a sexual nature? The only people that see this as sexually inappropriate are adults because that is how our brains work, but the age range this is targeting – one to six year-olds – don’t have the same thought process as we do. They will see Elmo and most likely some cute woman they don’t even know having fun, playing tag and singing a cute song.”
I agree. Sesame Street’s a children’s show isn’t it? While my 4-year-old son had a crush on dark haired “Maria” more than 25 years ago, it never drove him into a frenzy. I did however enjoy watching Maria as well.
In my view, this is all much ado about nothing. Sesame Street reacted responsibly, if hastily to parents’ complaints by pulling the segment. PR kudos to them, though it’s dangerous to pander every time special interests object to something on TV.
Perry’s handlers quickly posted the segment to YouTube where it’s getting huge viewership with 2,118,042 views as of Sat, Sept 25th. Quick PR action by her team certainly hasn’t hurt her reputation or exposure.
Meanwhile, true to character, poor Elmo looks dazed and confused!
You can view the video below and make up your own mind. Is it harmless fun or inappropriate for Sesame Street?
In my opinion, it’s a PR windfall for Sesame Street and for Katy Perry. I just hope that producers don’t start getting calls about the “sexy” big Bird. Or that they’re forced to go back in time and remove the lovely Maria from episodes 20 to 30 years ago.
And if the critics’ goal was to suppress artistic expression in a program that’s set the highest standards for childrens’ programming for decades, they’ve failed!
PR is always interesting, isn’t it? Love to hear your thoughts in comments below.
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