November 21st, 2009


When People Break

Recently I found some good articles about when people break and what problems that causes. Everyone has a breaking point, although some people stash theirs in a nonstandard location. For most folks, if they are shut out of the economy -- denied a job, a place to live, a way of obtaining food, the ability to support their family, etc. -- for a significant period of time, there is a high chance that they will break. People can break inward (suicide) or outward (murder and other violence). If you buy a rope, it generally has a little tag telling its lift strength and its shock strength, so you know that if you put more weight on it than that it'll be your fault when the rope breaks. Unfortunately people don't come with tags like that, so we have to extrapolate.
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Remembering Sesame Street ...

... because it's not what it used to be. This cartoon caught my eye today. I loved Sesame Street when I was little, but some of the best parts are no longer considered acceptable. That's a problem, because they're very illuminating deletions.

Oscar the Grouch is no longer "appropriate" for small children. Why? He's obnoxious. Well, that's the whole point of Oscar. He is a negative role model. He demonstrates that if you are rude and mean, it makes it hard to get along and people won't like you very much. (An interesting point about Sesame Street is that it's a tight-knit community and includes everyone, even Oscar despite his temper. But people still make it clear that his behavior is frowned upon.)

The Cookie Monster is no longer "appropriate" and has, from what I've heard, been transferred to a more nutritious diet. But the whole point to this character is that he was greedy, was a ridiculously picky eater, and had no self-control. He demonstrated the vice of gluttony.

Small children need negative role models as well as positive ones. They are just starting to learn what self-control is and that it might be a good thing to have. This is why so many fairy tales and children's stories have characters who break rules and do dumb stuff -- so that hopefully kids can learn from someone else's mistakes. Taking those away and leaving only sweetness and light is not helpful.