Thursday, September 23, 2010

Katy Perry and Elmo Duet Controversial?

I don't normally discuss politics on this blog. This is a pop culture blog and not a political blog, but it seems that some people are dead set on getting their politics mixed into my pop culture.

Apparently an upcoming duet featuring Katy Perry and Elmo is "too sexy" for some parents. You can watch the "offending" video below.

Personally, I don't see anything too risque for children's television. Sure, Katy has a pseudo-Betty Page thing going on, but Betty Page had a Betty Boop thing going on who had a Clara Bow thing going on who had a...

Sometimes I wonder at our modern desire to protect children from sex -- and from violence for that matter.

That said, there is one thing that I want to say about the issue.

When I was growing up The Muppet Show was the "feature celebrities singing new singles" show, and Sesame Street was the show with an underlying pedagogy that taught children numbers and colors etc. There isn't a Muppet Show anymore, but doesn't this Katy Perry number strike anyone as blatantly commercial in a way that "Public Television" stands in contrast to?

I find it ironic that the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show that I have my twin daughters watch -- which is based on a commercial IP -- has better pedagogy and seems less concerned with overt commercialism than Sesame Street.

I'm not opposed to children's programming having a merchandising aspect. Many of my fondest memories are of my own youthful playtime with toys and games based on children's programs (and vice versa). That's not my point.

My point is the irony that the tax payer subsidized, and pledge supported, programming of a public television show is more commercial oriented -- and is promoting pop-singles -- in a way that a commercial television show isn't. The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show is played without commercials, doesn't feature modern pop stars (though its theme song was written by They Might Be Giants), and has a better underlying pedagogy than the leading children's television program.

Now if someone can explain to me why my DVDs of older episodes of Sesame Street are labeled with a Parental Warning.


LYT said...

Maybe I'm not cynical enough, but I don't view songs as just product. Especially since kids will probably find a way to either download the tune for free, or just watch on youtube whenever they like.

If she were singing "Ba da da da da...I'm lovin it!" then I'd have an issue.

BTW, after seeing that, I actually do want to buy a Katy Perry album now...I haven't been sold on the whole sexy marketing of her, but the actual song is fun!

Christian Lindke said...

You're right that you aren't as cynical as I am with regard to it being product, but I do think I might have overemphasized the point.

It doesn't bother me that it is product. I just find the irony of a PBS show highlighting product instead of pedagogy, while a commercial show downplays product in favor of pedagogy, amusing.

I agree that the song is fun. Her "sexy" marketing seems to me to be just playful and ironic enough that I kind of like it. I mean, how serious can you take someone in day glow colors?

I agree that the song is fun.

Unknown said...

There's a little bit of the pedagogy you're talking about in the video (you're up, then you're down; you're fast, then you're slow; etc.) long there's popular music while Sesame Street is still around musicians and performers will always appear. I know that I'd wear it as a badge of honor if I got to appear on Sesame Street to sing a song.

I mean, c'mon they've got Chris Brown (of all people) singing about signs in the neighborhood:

But yeah, for me pop music conventions don't quite fit...not quite showtunes-y enough.