Big Bird in the news

Election campaigns throw up wacky distractions from time to time but I never expected Big Bird of all people (or rather birds) to suddenly make a cameo appearance in this one. Mitt Romney’s throwaway remark in the debate that he would get rid of funding for Sesame Street and Big Bird was not his finest moment, considering that by now a couple of generations of people have grown up with fond memories of the giant muppet and want their children to experience the same magic. My own children loved him.

Romney’s comment has spawned an entire industry of Big Bird-related stories and videos, such as this spoof of the famous scene from North by Northwest.

Big Bird even made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live.

There is no way that anyone, even the president of the United States or the Congress, is ever going to kill Big Bird. His approval ratings are through the roof, while theirs are in the cellar.


  1. raven says

    Ryan doubled down.

    He is not only going to kill Big Bird but will barbecue him and invite his friends to a Big Bird cookout.

  2. Anonymouse says

    Sesame Street first aired when I was 2 years old. The way my mother tells it, it was a neighborhood event to gather the little children in front of the television to learn about letters and numbers and enjoy the wacky hijinks of a group of puppets and their human “neighbors”. I can still remember the song about silent e and how it turned a cup into a cube. When I had children, Sesame Street had just passed its 25th anniversary and was still going strong. My kids wanted no part of me teaching them to count in Spanish, but they ate it up when a Muppet did it.

    There’s a place for PBS, for Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, a place made for children.

  3. Greg P. says

    Romney’s remark would have been a throwaway if he had simply stated his intent to cut the deficit by eliminating all so-called discretionary spending, and used PBS as an example.

    Personalizing (birdizing?) it suddenly endowed the remark with a perfect handhold for his opponents to grab and beat him with it. If this has created a distraction, it seems to be only for the Romney camp. No one is likely to be showing up at Obama rallies dressed in an eight-foot yellow bird costume.

    Obama may have “lost” the first debate, but at least he didn’t serve up any softballs like this to his opponent.

  4. Tim says

    I’m not sure I’d characterize this as a ‘distraction’.

    Instead, perhaps it symbolizes the essence of Romney’s campaign.

    Big business … or Big Bird?

  5. ttch says

    Anonymouse: “Silent E” was written by Tom Lehrer for the PBS 70’s kid series The Electric Company. One YouTube version is here.

    It’s easy to get all that old stuff confused, e.g., for some reason I remember “Silent E” as not being a song but instead being narrated by Peggy Cass.

  6. stonyground says

    I used to enjoy watching Sesame Street when my daughter was little but I always found Big Bird very irritating. Now that she is fifteen, my daughter has introduced me to a very cynical song called ‘Life’s gonna suck when you grow up’ which contains the lines:

    “Santa Clause does not exist and there’s no Easter Bunny, You’ll find out when you grow up that Big Bird isn’t funny.”

  7. Mano Singham says

    I read that Big Bird’s character was meant to be that of a four-year old and to appeal to them. Hence he did not have the more sophisticated humor of Grover or Cookie Kermit or Bert and Ernie.

  8. Anonymouse says

    Thanks for the correction. You’re right, of course, and I remembered it wrong. I also liked The Electric Company.

  9. says

    This smells to me a bit of dog whistling. Sesame Street has a tendency to be fairly liberal, e.g. including characters of different ethnicities. I think there recently was a character who actually spoke Spanish (so I heard, I don’t watch myself).

    I know for a fact that some groups on the far right are downright anti-Sesame, thinking it promotes socialism, communism and all those other words they don’t know what means, but are really, really bad and unamerican.
    I’m unsure of how wide-spread this is, though. Anybody have a feel for that?

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