Sesame Street characters have been in the news a lot lately. First there was much ado from Mitt Romney wanting to get rid of funding Big Bird and PBS. Of course, Sesame Street doesn’t need any funding, it supports itself, but the rest of PBS still does. There were no end to the jokes that the budget would be balanced and the deficit reduced if we only would get rid of PBS funding and Big Bird.
Now a new issue has hit the media regarding the voice of Elmo, Kevin Clash. Clash was recently accuse of sexual abuse by a victim who shortly thereafter recanted and said the sex was consensual and between two adults. I am always skeptical and so I thought that perhaps the matter may have been settled by Clash offering the victim money to make the matter go away. And that may have been the end of it. No one was going to investigate further to see if maybe where there is smoke, there is fire…or more alleged victims.
But yesterday, while watching the news, I see that a second 22 year old victim has come forward accusing Clash of allegedly having sex with him while he was 15. Clash and Sesame Street and deeply sadden by this personal “distraction,” and that it is taking the focus of Sesame Street away from it’s education of children. Clash has therefore done what is in the best interest of the show and resigned. I can’t be sure, but I would bet Sesame Street suggested he leave too. After all, how do we know how many more victims might come forth and accuse him of abuse. Yesterday’s victim stated that Clash allegedly made a practice of seeking out young boys and buying them expensive gifts and giving them money. If it’s not true I can’t understand why he would resign so quickly. Maybe it is in an attempt on the part of the show to quickly disassociate from the bigger scandal that is about to erupt?
Elmo is a much beloved character on Sesame Street. My kids grew up watching Sesame Street and had several Elmo toys. If these allegations are true it would be quite upsetting. Clash worked for Sesame Street for 28 years. He is well aware of their pristine reputation and how highly regarded and successful the show is in educating preschool children. He knew what he was doing. He had to also know that a scandal of this nature could be extremely detrimental and cast a dark cloud over a beloved show that has taught millions of children basic fundamental skills and given them a head start in school. Children whose parents cannot afford to send them to pre-school have gotten their first lessons from Sesame Street. Who hasn’t seen or heard of Sesame Street? It’s known world wide.
Yet, both Clash and Sesame Street are trying to downplay the seriousness of these allegations. They are referring to it as a distracting controversy. I don’t know about you, but it disturbs me that they are calling it a distraction…like an annoying mosquito that you want to shoo away. I guess at this stage of the game, before the whole truth comes out, they can afford to brush it off. But, if it should happen that Clash has a history of abuse, I wonder if they will come out with a stronger statement of disapproval and disgust? If this is true, there is something seriously wrong about a man who helps educate children, gains their confidence and love and abuses them too. Stay tuned. Scandals like this don’t just go away.