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.
Friends, it’s time I confessed. My husband and I have a
little problem. I could argue that it’s his problem and I’m just the enabler,
but you could argue other way around too. The truth is we are both addicted. We
have a problem with West Wing.
It started as simple escapism, a coping mechanism for
getting through the Bush years. Leading up to 2004 the series at least gave us
hope that an alternative to the Current Occupant could exist, that our flag
would still wave beyond these dark times. We’re not big TV watchers, so it was
easy to excuse the obsession with coming home on time Wednesday nights, and
later Sundays, to see the latest installment. It connected us to our friends
and to pop culture, of which we get precious little.
But now, I fear our little addiction has lost its social
acceptability. We haven’t just watched the series once. We bought all the DVD’s.
And we’ve watched them all – more than once. On any given evening as night
falls and the kids are finally in bed, you are likely to find us huddling on the
couch, self-medicating with the wit of CJ, the loyalty of Charlie, the gruff passion
of Toby. (We almost named Johannes Tobias instead. . . I’m glad we didn’t).
Does anyone know a way out of this little problem? I know
admitting it is the first step. . .