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?Â 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.
Ahhhh… SESAME STREET Monsters! I have my own KinderTrauma Stories about them!
I never wateched the show as a kid and I have a feeling The Count was part of the reason WHY. Whose Bright Idea was it to have a VAMPIRE on a childrens show???? He scared the Hell out of me! I know SESAME STREET tryed to teach us to love our neighborÂ be heÂ black, white, Asian or vampire …. but I had to draw the line somewhere. As if the mere appearance of The Count wasn’t bad enough when he would actually count he would laugh evil-y, lightning would crash and sometimes bats would fly through the room. Good gravy!
Many years later when ELMO became hugely popular SESAME STREET was my baby daughter’s favorite show (SHE didn’t seem to be bothered by The Count AT ALL …which really made me feel like a sissy over having Puppet Discomfort)! She would watch the show every day and night, smiling happily….UNTIL….the day the Letter Of The Day was “X”.
To celebrate “X” SESAME STREET did an homage to the then-popular adult program THE X-FILES. They had an alien from another planet land on The STREET (he was shaped like an “X” and had those big,black eyes that everyone who claims to have ever been abducted and probed claims aliens have) , and whenever he would be in a scene he would be accompanied by creepy music that was similar to that eerie X-FILES Theme Song.Â My daughter would scream, cry and carry on. Please forgive me for admitting this – but it was funny as Hell! (Whenever this episode was repeated I would be like “uh-oh, here we go again” and then watch the hysteria kick in).
I know you guys specialize in Old School Childhood Fears….but if you could dig up some of the photos of “Alien X” or (even better!) some video footage it would make my day! I could show it to my daughter (who will be in fifth grade soon and thinks she’s Hot Sh!t) and show her that even though she’s Too Cool For School NOW there was once a time when muppets made her soil her HUGGYS!
And this is why we found each other, Auntie!Â The monsters were always the best part of SSt. and The Muppet Show!Â Who didn’t want to be friends with a real live monster?!Â
Isn’t it interesting that all these “concerned” parents end up ruining all things cool?Â What’s next, Heavy Metal records cause kids to commit suicide or go on shoot….oh, um….never mind.
Hooray for monsters and boo-hiss to Marty Deming!Â Go suck an egg, lady!
I love the â€œI Want a Monster to Be My Friendâ€ video. Itâ€™s both creepy and cute. The Cramps should do a cover of it. And I think itâ€™s true that children have an innate appreciation for the strange and monstrous. All too often, itâ€™s the adults who stigmatize it.
@Mama: Sadly, that X-Files inspired clip is nowheres to be found on the youtubes, or I would gladly re-traumatize your daughter.
@MrC: I know, right! Monsters rule, Marty Deming is a tool!
@Jon: This song is so ripe for a cover. Hell, I’d even settle for a FRED SCHNEIDER interpretation.
Cookie Monster was always my favorite monster. I remember receiving a great Cookie Monster with eyes that rattled for being good on my first trip to the dentist.
I was shocked to find the disclaimer on my Old School Sesame Street Volume 1 DVD. I find it completely ridiculous. I also have Volume II, but havenâ€™t checked to see if it has a similar disclaimer. I am surprised that my Electric Company DVD sets donâ€™t have something similar. God knows kids canâ€™t benefit from a show that helped children learn to read in the past. Oops, Iâ€™ll get off my teacher soapbox now.
Anyway, I have certainly enjoyed getting to see Sesame Street sans that awful Elmo who, by the way, teaches kids to talk in third person (that just really annoys me). Â
AUNT JOHN – I spent about 5 or 10 minutes looking on YOU TUBE too and also came up with nothin’! Oh well!
Hey, does anybody have the ELMOPALOOZA video??? It has EN VOGUE (Remember them? They were like the ’90s version of DESTINY’S CHILD) doing I Want A Monster To Be My Friend and it’s very odd to say the least- It looks pretty similar to those Late Night Phone Sex Ads! So if you’re into black chicks, monster puppets or BOTH I highly recommend you check it out!