Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Very Special Drop in the Bucket

First of all, I just want to say that this is not a political piece.  As you know, I barely pay attention to politics.  But I did happen to watch the debate last week, and I was fairly upset when Romney said that he was going to cut funding for PBS.

So in a form of protest, I wore my Sesame Street t-shirt today:

"T-Shirt Mike" at his finest.

This isn't the first time I have defended PBS shows.  I also stood up for Mr. Rogers, when everyone was saying that he was the reason that my generation thinks they deserve things without putting in the work.

I also wore my Mister Rogers shirt in protest then:

Yes, I wear these shirts in public.

I just don't understand why people go after these shows, which are probably the only pure things that exist in today's world.

Shows like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood raised me.  Aside from learning actual things like numbers, letters, and spelling, those shows also taught me lessons about making friends, sharing, curiosity, and kindness.

We are worried about the United States falling behind in education. 

We are also behind on money.

Smart adults can help us make money.

Smart adults start out as smart children.

So yea, let's take away quality programming that helps to shape them before they even go to school.  It might be better for them to not have imaginative minds, after all.  That way they will be so aloof that they don't even realize that they are missing out on art, music, and other classes, which were also cut as a means of saving money.

Good plan.

Plus, the most successful television shows incorporate sex, violence, and teen pregnancy, so why mess with that winning formula?

During the debates, one of my heroes, Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted, "Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive."

In other words, "Cutting PBS ain't gonna do shit to help the economy."

I understand the premise of Romney's argument.  His idea is that the money has to come from somewhere and while it might be just a drop in the bucket, every drop counts.

But wait a minute.

I remember something back in 1996 that stimulated the economy.  You might too:

It has sold ten million units to date.  If we are going to count drops in the bucket, we should probably count this one too.

But let's be honest here.  The PBS droplet isn't something that should just be plopped into a bucket with the rest of the collective water that is going to hydrate our economy.  Instead, we should look at that little droplet and praise it for doing so much and affecting so many while being only just a tiny little droplet.

While I was dealing poker a few weeks ago, a group of five women walked by our table.  As it usually happens in a room of mostly men, everyone at the table took a moment to notice (See: gawk at) the group.

All five were wearing tight-fitting dresses which were apparently chosen to show as much skin as possible.

Four of them were petite.

The fifth was not. 

Like, at all*.

*It is the nicest way I can say it.  But keep in mind that the whole "tight-fitting dress" and "showing as much skin as possible" still applied to her.

At the table, one of the players began singing the song "One of these things is not like the other," which you might remember from Sesame Street.

If you don't remember, I'll let Big Bird help you out:

Yes, it was inappropriate.  And sure, it might have been in poor taste.

But everyone immediately knew the song he was referencing and were able to quickly understand which one was the "big bowl of bird seed," if you will.

If a show that we all watched in our childhood has that kind of power -- to be randomly sung years and years later and be universally recalled and accepted -- imagine all of the other lessons that were imprinted in our psyches as children that we subconsciously recall throughout our days.  Lessons about fairness, sharing, and learning that were imprinted in us.  They aren't recalled as facts, but are ingrained in our personalities.  All of it beneficial, wholesome stuff, given to us at a young age so that we might have a chance to survive a sometimes dark world.

To take away such wonderful shows, shows with such pure intentions that actually deliver... I don't know. 

It seems criminal. 

Today's children would certainly be robbed of something precious and wonderful.  I just hope that with all of these drops in the bucket, we pick the right ones.  Otherwise it might be the teardrops of our children that fill the bucket.

-Youngman Brown


  1. Very inspiring post. I may not even come from the same country, but you only have to look at my avatar to see how Sesame Street has permeated it's way into our culture also. I liked the comparison to text files.

    1. Hell yes. The Cookie Monster was the best!

  2. I completely agree. I was raised on these shows, as were my kids. Even though my kids are teenagers now, I still support PBS during their annual fund raising drive.

  3. Mr. Rogers was the man. I loved him. When he put on his sweater and sneakers, we knew great things were about to happen. Sesame Street evokes all kinds of great memories for me too. I'd hate for kids who have to watch ridiculous shows like "Yo Gabba Gabba" now, to loose out on quality programming, like Sesame Street. It's a shame.

    Oh, and God bless that big girl for having the self esteem to go out rocking a skin tight dress with her four skinny friends. Lord, knows I would never have it! :)

  4. You gotta put down the ducky if you wanna play the saxophone. I adored Mr. Rogers. Who else on TV could be so quiet and gentle and still hold a child's attention?


  5. Mike, amazing! We all grew up on those shows and you're right, it's engrained. Manners, sharing, fairness... all things we should want future generations to learn at an early age. And really, he thinks 0.012% is going to make a difference? I'm sorry but just no.

  6. Surprisingly, I was the Barney and Thomas the Tank Engine type. I watched Sesame Street fairly often but not as much as most(Snuffleupagus scared the crap out of me). I did watch the f*** out of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, though. That's not to say I'm not familiar with the "One of these things is not like the other" song.

    Granted, I don't think PBS would disappear if it's funds were cut. Though, they'll have to find a way to compensate such as having more benefit concerts or even go so far as have commercials on their programming. Frankly, what Tyson says is true though. There are several less deserving corporations that should be axed from government funding.

    1. Haha I love that you "watched the f*** out of Mister Roger's Neighborhood."

      You're right, it probably wouldn't go away completely... but I feel like they already have tons of benefit concerts etc.

  7. You said it exactly: PBS programming IS one of the few pure things left in the world. The election this year has inspired some of all the all time stupid shit I have ever heard in my life, and cutting PBS is one of them.

    It's also so true when you think about much of "Sesame Street" and "Mr Rogers" has been ingrained into our head--in a good way. It would be a shame if future generations didn't hear "Won't you be my neighbour" in their head when someone new moved in.

    1. So funny you said that! Somebody new just moved in downstairs and I thought of that!

  8. Those puppets in Mr. Rogers were horrifying. Lady Elaine??? That sh*t kept me up at night.

    Other than that, great post as usual.

    1. But Daniel the Stripped Tiger was so cute!

  9. Good point well made. PBS does not discriminate between poor and wealthy when it comes to offering an opportunity to learn. So of course Romney would be willing to chop it...he has made it clear he does not care about the less fortunate.

    And I know it wasn't the point of your story, but what a jerk that guy was who sang that song. I just hope she didn't hear him. Mean.

  10. I agree with you. Why is anyone combating things that bring happiness into the world? It's 0.014% of the US budget. The return on investment is way better too.

  11. I still remember my high school graduation back in 19. . .umm, whatever. Our valedictorian started singing "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood..." and all of a sudden everyone: graduates, families, faculty joined in and sang with her. It was incredible to see how much we'd all been touched by that song.

  12. Here, here! I so agree with you. Of all the things that need funded, the arts and educational programs are at the top of the list in my mind. I work with the public and I've seen quite a few people who probably could've benefited from watching Reading Rainbow or Sesame Street.

  13. I remember watching these programs with our son when he was little. It was a special time fr us.

  14. All good points, sir! Strange campaign stance to take - surely there are other, more pressing issues to focus on instead of slashing kids' shows?

    Also - hilarious impromptu song by your friend, yet mean. Why does being funny often come bundled with collateral damage?!

  15. Amen! Couldn't have said it better myself!

    Shows these day ingrain nothing but sex, drugs and teen pregnancy into the minds of the youth. My daughter is only 9 and already is more focused on make-up and clothing than she is schoolwork! I blame I-Carly! And that yellow prick...Spongebob!

  16. Mr. Rogers always changed his jacket and shoes for a sweater and sneakers when he cam inside, you never see anyone do that today.

  17. I don't know if you had it in the States, but in Canada, Sesame Street carried a bit of French content. We also had to take a semester of French in high school. Today, all of the French that I've been able to retain are the phrases that I learned on Sesame street.

    There's certainly no harm in exposing children to educational television when they are young and can suck that stuff up like a sponge.


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