Oh, how the fuzzy are fallen. Kevin Clash, the man who has voiced of Sesame Street's Elmo for the past twenty-seven years, has been placed on a leave of absence as the story about his relationship with a teenage boy some years ago becomes clear. The folks at Sesame Workshop stated that it conducted a “thorough investigation,” including two meetings with the accuser, and found his claims regarding underage sexual contact to be “unsubstantiated.” Clash has admitted to a relationship with the young man, but says it did not take place until after he had turned eighteen. If he had been sixteen, would that have been the problem?
How about this: Apparently there are a lot of people who would be happy to find a reason to pull the plug on PBS. The most interesting thing is how much the people who voted for Barack Obama look like those hanging out on Sesame Street. The poly-ethnic mix of men and women, boys and girls, frogs and monsters that call that boulevard home are just the kind of trouble that frightened Republicans are worried will be taking over our country soon. This non-traditional America is a challenge to those who would rather close their eyes and imagine a life in Mayberry.
Elmo wouldn't last long in Mayberry. Bright red monsters don't fare well in bright red states. Kevin Clash definitely has some explaining to do, but his story is as old as our great nation. The kiddie show host that is forced out because of this illicit behavior or that, in fact or fiction, has been around as long as broadcasting, and probably before. I have no particular love loss for Elmo, but I was not part of the generation of kids who grew up with his oddly-pitched third person vision of the world. Elmo's world. It will be interesting to see how this turns out on Reality Street. Stay tuned.