Sesame Street Will Save the World

If I ever have children of the non-canine variety, I want to expose them to music and theatre at an early age. I was lucky enough to grow up with lots of opportunities to be creative and expressive: singing, playing the piano, acting in the local children's playhouse (well, not so much "acting," as dressing up in animal costumes and talking in funny voices).

I was encouraged to step, however tentatively and sometimes wearing a badger or flying monkey costume, into new arenas. It was a wonderful way to grow up.

That's why I can't say enough good about this interaction between Elmo and Andrea Bocelli. The original song, Con Te Partiro, is wildly popular, part of the neo-opera style that horrifies traditionalists but serves as an ideal gateway from inane lyrics and beats to proper liberetto and accompaniment. It's the marijuana of music.

But really, what a cool thing to introduce to kids. Just as Warner Brothers introduced generations of children to classics like Wagner's "Ride of the Valkeries" (Kill Da Wabbit) and "The Flying Dutchman" (really, we owe so much to Wagner), so is Sesame Street educating kids on subjects beyond the surface, subjects that will make then sensitive, perceptive, critical-thinking adults.

And maybe that's what we need: a generation of artists to silence the philistines that have garnered so much power, so much of the national voice. Imagine if, instead of footage of rednecks turning left, networks aired opera on Sunday afternoons. Or art-history programs.

I know. So absurd I sound naive and whiny just bringing it up. Plus, that's why we have PBS--so fruits like me don't complain about Nascar (news flash: I will always complain about Nascar).

Still, though. By hacking music and art programs, schools in Utah and everywhere else are sending the message that the skills one develops through those pursuits--perception, sensitivity, subtlety, awareness of space, knowing when to be bold and when to be soft--aren't important, aren't worth as much as sports and math and dissecting pickled pig fetuses. (Truly a lesson from which I learned absolutely nothing, except that my lab partner, who wrapped said pig's intestine around his neck, was seriously fucked up.)

But ENOUGH out of me. Let's let Elmo and Andrea take over, all charm, funny lyrics and kind intentions. "Lay down, here is your bear, you have had such a wonderful day, playing and counting to 20..." And oh my god, that dancing, slow-motion bear? Please!


little happinesses: said...

I can't see the video yet since my school blocks those things (punks), but I'm totally with you on this. Arts remind us that we're creative and human and connected in a way that a lot of other things don't. I hope there are always Sesame Streets and elective class requirements and celebrations of music to balance out all the hard edges of the world.

Kate said...

I love that clip! In fact, now when I hear Andrea Bocelli singing the real thing - I usually think of the Elmo words!!