Too Hot For Kids’ TV?

Sunday, 26 September 2010

It was all the buzz in multiple news outlets on September 23, Katy Perry's musical performance with Elmo was put to the curb of Sesame Street when the segment leaked to the internet prior to broadcast. The deletion of the segment came on the heels of a chorus of complaints about the singer's “racy” attire and included sentiments like, "They're gonna have to rename it cleavage avenue." Since this news broke and the uproar spread, Perry has appeared on Saturday Night Live sporting an Elmo shirt in jest, more parents have gotten indignant, and the hit counts of sources like TMZ and YouTube have flown skyward as still more fretful parents tune in to see what they should be infuriated about (to say nothing of the 'teenage boy' contingent that has flocked online at the promise of seeing celebrity boobies). The already-notorious golden dress that Perry wore for the skit may go down in infamy, but there are more than a few of us questioning why –  after the numerous affronts to good taste perpetrated by pop stars over the years – did Sesame Street cut the bit and why were parents so incensed about it?

Let's look at that golden dress for a second, because it seems to be the problem. In order, the dress that Katy Perry wore for her deleted segment of Sesame Street is:

  • No shorter in length than the average (unaltered) Catholic School uniform.
  • Ugly as sin, sure, but most children's costumes are pretty gaudy.
  • Low-cut? Maybe, but the argument could be made that it only appears low-cut because of the dimensions of the body it's wrapped around; as Dolly Parton can tell you, the bigger the rack, the more weight there is, and the more gravity will play a factor in an outfit's presentation.

So, to play devil's advocate, is the golden dress really so racy? It isn't what Dolly Parton would call “peek-a-boo chic,” in fact it's very unfashionable – just like most of the costumes kids wear to play dress up anyway. Realistically, would the average kid of the age to enjoy Sesame Street look at it and say, “Gee whiz – that Ms. Perry has big boobies”? Probably not – such observations are normally made after an individual has reached puberty and is able to tell the difference (as parents are capable of doing) aren't they? At best, the most reasonable argument which could be made is that Perry did not dress her age on Sesame Street; she was trying to act like a kid would by wearing a ridiculous outfit.

So what exactly are people so upset about? I contend that much of the hullaballoo is more obviously centered around the public's guilty conscience as parents bequeath their fascination with celebrities down to another generation. These are the parents who spend more time than they likely should marveling over the lives of people they're unlikely to meet and plant their kids in front of a television while they do it. At the same time, these parents try to ignore that celebrities are human too, and capable of many of the same foibles and faux pas as the rest of us. Could Perry have tried to be a little more mature in her choice of attire? Sure – but that the entire situation has been blown to the proportions it has by parents is the truly ludicrous and shameful bit.


Katy Perry and Elmo duet "Hot N Cold" on Sesame Street.

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