Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's an outrage.

Ok. The fix is in. I don't know how to explain it, but I'm not happy about it. Let me start at the beginning.

In an episode of "Elmo's World" on Sesame Street, Elmo's goldfish, Dorothy, casts her fishy mind back to the day Elmo was born. Here is the scene, with Elmo's parents, George and Gladys:

This seems about right. George is clearly Elmo's bio dad. They look exactly alike. Gladys and George are happy, excited about their new baby. God knows why they chose to name him Elmo, but whatev.

Fast forward to our favorite episode of Sesame Street, the one with the elephant stuck in the bathtub. There's a song segment called "Elmo's Riding," that features Elmo learning to ride his bike with his "Daddy." A man who is clearly not George in any way shape or form. In fact, this is Elmo's new "Daddy":

I know, right? He looks nothing like Elmo. Look at the face shape. And the nose. According to the Muppet Wiki, his name is "Louie," and this Arlo Guthrie-looking, folk-song-singing, hemp-wearing dilletante has entirely elbowed George out of the picture. We figure that Louie must be Elmo's stepdad. And that's fine. Maybe George and Gladys broke up when Elmo was small, so Louie's the only Dad Elmo's really ever known. Maybe George is a crappy absentee father who doesn't pay his child support. Maybe George died, which would be really sad, and you'd think there'd be some acknowledgement of it. Maybe Gladys is just a tramp. Who knows? But I bet there's not even a picture of George on the mantle at the Monster house. And that's not OK.

I'm not implying that Louie is a bad dad, although he does seem a little shady to me and he has a weird Willie Nelson-esque accent and a creepy goatee and apparently way too much time on his hands. God knows that I'm not saying he's not Elmo's "real" dad, if he's the one loving and raising Elmo. But the Muppet Wiki claims that the reason for the George bait-and-switch is that Dorothy the Goldfish "imagined" what Elmo's birth-day and his parents looked like. Imagined!?!?!?!? Since when do goldfish possess that kind of imagination? And why on earth would Dorothy "imagine" them names like "Gladys" and "George"? If this is the case, then Elmo's mom probably looks like Mama Cass or Suze Orman or someone equally improbable. Muppet Wiki, you have really failed.

It seems to me that George's parental rights are being denied here, and if I were him, I'd quit paying my child support, too. I'm just saying.


Andrew Leal said...

For the record, Dorothy *does* have a powerful imagination. Elmo even says "Dorothy is imagining Elmo's first birthday!" So Dorothy is either just very special and psychically powerful, or there's something in the food Elmo gives her. She's also been known to imagine Elmo as animals, rocks, and an entire musical sequence about her mind.

As for the names, that was an in-joke, since those are the names of Kevin Clash's parents. When Sesame Workshop decided to make Elmo's parents prominent, they redesigned both of them (in older books, they still look like Elmo, but sometimes Dad has glasses, sometimes he doesn't, or a moustache, and so on). Here's Elmo's Mom today:

So it's basically a retcon, but not Muppet Wiki's fault (full disclosure: I'm an admin there). Please don't be mad at us! Blame the system!

Andrew Leal said...

Also, keep in mind Dorothy wasn't even alive when Elmo was born, so yeah. Either powerful imagination, or Dorothy channels past events plus alternate universes and all that stuff. In one, she imagines a middle-aged Elmo as a newspaper customer. Also, the doctor and nurse are likewise Elmo clones, because Elmo is her frame of reference for everyone. That doesn't mean he was delivered by relatives, though. (Yeah, it is headache inducing to think about, but que sera sera).

To really blow your mind, try to make it through all of these:

Matt said...

Okay but what about the picture on the wall in Elmo's room where one of the seemingly parental figures CLEARLY wears glasses? BUSTED.

Andrew Leal said...

Simple! Louie got laser surgery!

But really, it's a retcon. Only a simple one, since viewer testing showed that the Crisis of Infinite Elmos sequence was just too intense.At the same time, a similar script was scuttled; centering on Baby Bear, the scenario in which Guy Smiley shoots Papa Bear while Mama dies of a heart attack served no identifiable pedagogical purpose, and Hasbro turned down the license for "Dark Bear" action figures. Though I hear Grover looked adorable in his butler outfit.