Years before that red-furred, homicidal maniac (whose name I am afraid to type) took up residence on America’s favorite multicultural thoroughfare, SESAME STREET was home to a gaggle of adorable monsters. Despite reports from readers and listicle makers to the contrary, your Aunt John, in his formative years, found the monsters to be the best part of SESAME STREET in the 1970s. I loathed Snuffleupagas and flat-out hated Bob too. I wanted all my shows brought to me by the letter M for Monster!
My prayers for more monster screen time were answered in 1975 with the release of this innocuous enough seeming power-ballad “I Want A Monster To Be My Friend“:
The song was released on the The Sesame Street MONSTERS! LP which, with its good beat that I could dance to after kindergarten left out for the day, became #1 with a bullet on my Fisher-Price turntable. It was so awesome that it made me forget about my former musical obsessions Snoopy vs. The Red Baron, and The Monster Mash LP by Peter Pan Records.
Flash forward to this past November and Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times, the “Paper of Record” that was so kind to recently name-drop Kindertrauma (umm, scroll down, we’re beneath the Al Sharpton link), reported that the DVD treatment of old-school Sesame Street was getting hit with an “Adults-Only” warning label. WTF? Was Mr. Hooper that bad-ass of a curmudgeon? This news left your dear old Aunt John reeling and thinking. Thinking, that is, about whatever happened to my favorite monster song!?!
After some extensive research, (cough, Googling), your Aunt John was s-h-o-c-k-e-d to learn that back in 1984, some bored housewife launched a campaign to have my favorite monster tune censored:
The song was removed from rotation on Sesame Street in 1984, after a mother complained about the song’s bridge:
If I make friends with a friendly monster,
I’ll let him bounce me on his knee.
I’ll let him do whatever he wants to,
Especially if he’s bigger than me.
These lyrics, interpreted in an unwholesome way, could be seen as encouraging children to give in to physical demands made by adults. A New York Times article on April 9, 1984, summarized the situation:
The monster song on the children’s television program Sesame Street is about to lose four lines because of a mother who feared they would encourage child molestation. Marty Deming, a mother of two, objected to the lines. She said Edward L. Palmer, vice president of the Children’s Television Workshop, told her Sesame Street will stop using the lines, even though the producers felt the song “has nothing to do with encouraging children to let real adult persons make improper advances on them.”
Shame on you mother of two Marty Deming, and your over-active imagination. It’s a song about friendship and acceptance, not one that actively encourages small children to succumb to the advances of bicycle shop proprietors.
Thanks to Deming, the song is no longer available on any SESAME STREET re-issues and compilations. Thankfully, the good folks over at the now-defunct 365 Days Project are not afraid of befriending monsters and have the song available for download.