The New York Times issues a list, weekly, of their
most-emailed stories. They are usually great reads.
Now they’ve issued a list of top ten for 2007. It includes
recipes, an op-ed by Stephen Colbert, and, of course, a piece by Michael Pollan. But
number one? Amagazine piece by Viriginia Heffernan about the newly released “vintage” Sesame Street episodes, in which it is
revealed that some content is now deemed inappropriate for small children.
I read this story in the magazine weeks ago and thought
about blogging on it. Advent got in the way, but it struck me as a great
commentary on the assumptions we make about children and what they need—then and now. Then, Cookie
Monster was just every three-year-old’s id
in action, no impulse control and lovable for it. Now, he is a reformed sugar
addict who advises us to eat our carrots too. Then, Alistair Cookie had a pipe.
Now, kids’ parents don’t watch Masterpiece Theater either, so the whole thing makes no sense. Then, Snuffleupagus was simply an oversized imaginary friend; now, we are too worried that parents seem out of touch, so he’s
visible to anyone.
What’s fascinating is how this story is the TOP NYTimes story of the
whole year! Who are these people reading this and passing it on? Gen X’ers
like me who learned to read via Muppets? My parents’ generation trying to
figure out their grandkids? Incredulous Gen Y’ers who can’t believe that Elmo
wasn’t begotten of eternal God? I’m not sure what this story’s popularity means
for the country, but it's a fascinating window into who reads the Times.