There is a new Muppet taking up residence on Sesame Street. Her name is Lily and her family is on welfare. Never sure where her next meal is coming from, the character is helping parents teach young children about tough topics like poverty, the need for humanitarian kindness, and how the recession is affecting many American children and their elders.
Muppet creators are known for introducing tough topics on societal and humanitarian issues since its inception in 1969, showcasing its cast of multicultural characters. Today it’s no different with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces Sesame Street. The organization is introducing a new muppet resident on Sesame Street, according to the New York Times, and her name is Lily. Hers is quite a story.
Lily is a normal 7-year-old muppet girl, but she has a problem. Her parents aren’t making enough money to put food on the table, and she is helping other Muppets like Elmo understand what it means to live a life of poverty while striving to remain in good spirits and appreciative of help from everybody.
In an age of economic crisis and uncertainty, this seems to be a responsible humanitarian move on behalf of Sesame Workshop, which hopes children will identify with Lily and realize they are not alone. Lily gets to visit a community garden and visit with the other puppets, presumably as helpful and full of good advice as ever they were. No welfare lines or criminal records. Just folks falling on hard times.
Huffington Post, known for being a somewhat liberal news source, shared their optimistic humanitarian belief that, “The upcoming season of “Sesame Street” is packed with cameos from the biggest names in glitzy Hollywood, but it is a 7-year old, food insecure girl that will perhaps make the biggest impact for the show. ”
Conservative Republican critics disagreed with their assessment of the character, instead calling Lily the “welfare muppet” in an act of puppet bullying most parents with empathy and common sense abhor. One mean website, BigHollywood, headlined “More Left-Wing Muppet Madness: ‘Sesame Street’ Pitches Dining on Government’s Dime”. The feeling is Sesame Workshop is using this character as a means to encourage children and families to seek help while explaining to them that all American children are entitled to humanitarian benefits thanks to government assistance. That realization started the puppet bullying trend among less charitable conservatives and many Republicans.
Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress had this to say:
Fox News got all ‘het up’ about the Muppets being anti-Capitalist before coming to their senses. So it seems strange that conservatives would follow up that loser of a battle by criticizing Sesame Street’s campaign against child hunger by arguing that it’s “Brought to you by the letters ‘B’ and ‘G’… for Big Government.”
The Sunday 7 p.m. airing time for the special episode for which Lily is planned is drawing criticism as well. Critics say kids without food aren’t likely to be sitting down on a Sunday evening watching television if they can’t even eat. They say the program is designed to target more affluent homes in hopes of swaying people to donate to local charities.
And where’s the harm?
It’s hard to picture Lily or the 17 million children like her, who are “food insecure,” according to a NY Times report, to be terribly concerned about where the humanitarian aid is coming from. Food is food for these kids. The adults may be bickering about the politics, but the kids are just relieved to know they’re not the only ones and that there is help out there. And that’s the humanitarian message Sesame Workshop would like to share.
From CNS News:
“Sometimes we can’t always afford to buy all the food that we need,” Lily said. “I mean, but we’ve been finding lots of ways that we can get help…Yeah, for example, at school I get a free breakfast and a lunch…part of the meal plan.”
It’s a good thing Sesame Workshop and other humanitarian organizations are there to help (in our humble opinion here at Green Celebrity Network). Granted, we lean to the left as independent voters who love sharing good news and giving +1 thumbs up to star celebs who do good deeds and charity benefit work, but OH WELL, whatever. We applaud the producers of Sesame Street for introducing the character.
For a video clip of the news bashing that sweet little Muppet for growing up in poverty and needing humanitarian aide from others, visit Huffington Post.
What are your thoughts? Are the producers of Sesame Street wrong to be tackling tough issues like poverty during the recession? Do you have any tips about how to talk to young children about the economic recession? Tell other readers your thoughts in the Facebook comments section below — and thank you for your willingness to respectfully share.