Sesame Street: Old School Volume 2- TV review
I discovered the corpse of my uncle. Now that’s a pretty hardcore way to start a second train of thought regarding the children’s television show Sesame Street but, it does have relevance to the concept I’m trying to point out here.
Stop. Maybe later. There’s another aspect of the show that is important to me and needs examining first. It involves Mr Snuffleufgus [Aloysius Snuffleupagus: editor]- Big Birds imaginary friend. For those 30 below readers- originally, no one believed Mr Snuffleupagas actually existed. They all quite condescendingly smiled and nodded at Big Bird when he told them about “Snuffy” his friend the baby mammoth. He always tried to get the two parties together but whenever he went off to get the humans, Snuffy would get bored forget something and wander off, leaving Big Bird looking like a tool. The humans never caught sight a baby mammoth the size of a medium car. Then again- they were talking to a 10 foot talking canary. The outcry from some circles who had very little to do with children regarding an imaginary friend was legion at the time. It’s wrong to have an imaginary friend!
The much loved "Snuffy"
Dammit I had one! He was called Jibby Crompetter and he looked like a scarecrow. I turned out ok. I think. Eventually pressure yielded and despite the disappointment at the butchering of the faith that children are a hell of a lot tougher than we give them credit for and adults are the ones that need shrinks and Prozac, one of those personally special moments on TV was about to happen. I admit I was in upper primary school at the time but I still tuned in to see it. Snuffy was revealed to the humans and Bob, Gordon and the others. It was at that point they thought that maybe mixing beer and aspirin wasn’t a good idea. Then again they lived with a 10 foot Canary, a vampiric accountant and a bunch of monsters with neuroses ranging from severe eating disorders to living with a pet elephant in their trash can.
Secondly I want to talk about the most important memory that the show did for me. It involved Mr Hooper and Big Bird. I only just remember Mr Hooper but they are fond memories. He had dark rimmed glasses and was balding. I remember Mr Hooper’s store and how Big Bird sill has a drawing of him (I think). Big Bird- orphaned (I think he mentions his parents but they aren’t there to be his guardians). Alone in New York city had one supposedly imaginary friend but he also had Mr Hooper and the other humans, who acted as his guide as surrogate parents. Big Bird started as a very naive character to whom many of life’s learning had to be shown things for the first time- he was learning, as I was at that age, the others a Mr Hooper, the sometimes gruff but ever caring store owner helped guide Big Bird through his formative years.
Mr Hooper, Played By Will Lee. 1910 - 1983
Then the unthinkable happened. Mr Hooper died.
Massive props go out to Television workshop for having the sheer guts to address this issue. Mr Hooper didn’t go on holiday. They didn’t write him out of the show. He died. The one person Big Bird constantly looked to for guidance was gone. He didn’t understand- was he on holiday? When is he coming back? I’ll wait for him to come back. He’s not coming back… They didn’t even portray it as he’s passed away. Mr Hooper died. They didn’t sugar coat it but they treated it respectfully and as something that happens. Through this Big Bird learned that it was ok to mourn, to feel sad and view death as a heartbreaking but not a wrong thing. It also taught him that it’s ok to remember. Hence the simple drawing he still has to this day.
I found the corpse of my Uncle Clem. My father died when I was one, so I have no memory of him. My brother and sister were much older than me and were away at University and the army on the mainland. So I was raised by my single widowed mother- I was an only child (hence Jibby). I had no father figure except my uncle who came to live with us when I was barley 5 or 6. I adored him. He had dark rimmed glasses and was balding. We’d watch cricket on the TV together and I sipped his beer. This was before I understood cricket or even liked beer. I didn’t care- I loved him. Every night I’d kiss him goodnight and he smelt of pipe tobacco. Every morning I’d go in and wake him up as only a six year old can, by yelling, jumping on him and scaring the shit it out of him. He was always awake because I had the stealth abilities of an elephant on crack. Then I gave him his morning tablets. He didn’t mind and I was our routine we both loved.
Then one day he didn’t wake up so I assumed he was fast asleep. I told my mum and went back to my wheat-bix. Oblivious to what was actually going on I was quickly hustled over to my neighbours: Lisa and Luke’s house for the day and had an absolute ball. We had hotdogs for lunch (weird what you remember). Dusk came and mum got me for tea. The table was set for two.
Some of your favourite muppets.
Uncle Clem died. He wasn’t on holiday and he wasn’t coming back. All I can remember is that one of the things we had for tea was corn and it tasted like ashes. I bareley remember the funeral. But I remember the feeling of loss and heartbreak as clearly today as then. But I very recently I was told something on my favourite TV show. I was shown that it’s ok to mourn. It was ok to feel sad and confused and heartbroken. It was ok to cry. Most importantly I remembered it was ok to remember. So despite being confused I mourned in my own way, I cried and I was heartbroken. Just as importantly I remembered.
RIP Clement Charles Butler (Uncle Clem).
Noel Clement Cramp
Purchase Now – Help (Cool) Shite
Buy Sesame Street from Amazon.com
or purchase it from Madman who have provided this review copy.
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