Cookie Monster reforms:
Alarmed at the rates of obesity among young people, the children's programme Sesame Street is embarking on a drive to educate its audience about the benefits of healthy eating. As part of the project, some of the show's favourite characters are getting nothing less than a makeover—Cookie Monster is going on a diet while Elmo has started professing a love for exercise.
The producers of Sesame Street, which kicks off its 36th season on public television in the US today, said each episode will now start with a health tip about nutrition, exercise, hygiene and rest….
As part of the project, Cookie Monster, who used to sing that "C is for cookie", will be telling viewers that biscuits are occasional treats. He now sings: "A cookie is a sometimes food."
I've got nothing against the message, you understand. And Sesame Street has always had a streak of social engineering to it, so it's a little late to start complaining that it's gone PC. But since when is Cookie Monster supposed to be a role model? Are there really a bunch of plus-sized toddlers out there who've been looking up to the furry blue muppet, modeling their lifestyles on his, using him to validate their eating habits? I always thought he was supposed to be a loveable but vaguely obnoxious figure, a little too obsessive for comfort. (Or, in the words of my five-year-old self: "I don't like people like Cookie Monster and the Count.")
Putting Cookie Monster on a diet is like giving Oscar prozac. A doctor might prescribe it, but a writer should know better.
Update: Turns out the initial press reports weren't entirely accurate. Cookie Monster doesn't sing "A Cookie Is a Sometimes Food," or at least he doesn't sing lead; it's sung to him, with the monster merely adding little background interjections. And at the end of the skit he finds an excuse to eat a cookie anyway. Good for him.