Some people are wondering if this meme is hurting the Occupy movement. I don’t think it is. First, the single most important PR rule is that there is no such thing as bad publicity. There are few mantras, guidelines, etc., that I’ve found to be always true in life and that is one of them. Second, it shows we have a sense of humor. One of the biggest mistakes a movement can make is to take itself too seriously. Coming off pretentious is dangerous, especially for those on the left. This makes the movement more accessible and inclusive. Third, it serves a purpose, albeit in a round-about manner: it takes a beloved institution, itself in danger of being axed by the current economic policies of our nation, and places it into a context of oppression and violence. Sesame Street was an imaginative space in anyone who grew up in America in the last 40 years. Having an imaginative social space is also key for any movement to succeed, especially if that space allows for inner criticism or the releasing of frustrations. Movements fail when they are too self-contained, too limiting, and too serious.
Meet Lily, Sesame Street’s “poverty-stricken” Muppet who will star in a one-hour prime-time special (airing Oct. 9) that aims to teach kids about poverty and hunger. In the special, Lily reveals that “sometimes I go with my family to the food pantry.” That really affects fellow-Muppet Elmo. “Elmo never has to think about where his next meal is coming from.”
Of course Elmo doesn’t have to worry. Elmo’s the 1%. Elmo took over Sesame Street in 1998.