In a recent Ernie and Bert sketch on everyone’s favorite educational kid’s show Sesame Street, there is an obvious allusion to the Shades of Grey book. Bert is sitting on a park bench and reading a book that clearly shows the title “Fifty Shades of Oatmeal”. He addresses the camera and then reads the book. He says, “I’m Bert. I’m just reading this book: Fifty Shades of Oatmeal. Yeah… One: beige… Two: tan… Wow, this is steamy stuff.” I’m not making this up. Watch the Video Here.
I know most of you who watch the clip will do like I did and smile at the clever satirical take on such a scandalous adult novel. But, then I hope you will think further, as I did, and think about the intended audience for the video. The producers of Sesame Street have stated in the past they are purposely trying to draw parents in along with their kids. That’s a noble idea as long as they don’t use pornographic material to reach their goal. Fifty Shades of Grey is about a young woman who is lured into a seedy world of bondage and sadomasochistic sex. In my opinion, there should never be any hint of this book in a show like Sesame Street which teaches very young children. It doesn’t matter how popular the book is in today’s adult pop culture. Kids don’t need to be introduced to it. I wonder what would happen if a new Chain Saw Massacre movie comes out and becomes a huge hit with adult audiences. Would we get to watch a sketch on Sesame Street where Bert is using a chainsaw to teach the kids about simple division, then gets carried away and chases Ernie off the set with the chainsaw? As long as Sesame Street’s teaching is aimed at kids they should leave the R-rated pop culture references out. A big SPLAT for Sesame Street on this one.