I wouldn’t call myself a news junkie, but I probably follow current events more than the average bear. And being an avid NPR lister (one of the sponsoring “listeners like you”, in fact), I couldn’t help but notice the recent efforts to defund public television and radio funding. Now I’m hardly an expert, and I’ll leave it to more knowledgeable and established pundits to debate the proper role of government, or whether or not the federal government should be involved in broadcasting at all during this golden age of cable and internet.
My interest is much narrower and far more lighthearted: if the proposed cuts do go through, what will happen to all of the newly unemployed Sesame Street Muppets? The following takes place on a New York City street, in one possible not-too-distant future…
“Hey buddy, how about some change?”
The voice coming from the trashcan behind Cookie Monster was unmistakable, and he stopped in his tracks.
“That you, Oscar?”
“Yeah, but get a load of YOU!” said the green Grouch. “I almost didn’t recognize you in that suit.”
“Yes, me do pretty good for self after Sesame Street cancelled. Me grab bootstraps and pull,” said Cookie, nodding his fuzzy blue head. “Sorry it not look like same be said for you.”
“You haven’t lost your charm,” laughed Oscar. “But I’ve seen worse. Say–I haven’t had cable or internet for over a year now; what’s the old gang up to?”
“Ah! Almost everyone find new job,” said Cookie Monster. “But me think you probably already know about Elmo.”
Both monsters turned and looked at the billboard across the street, where Elmo’s smiling red face appeared next to a Triple Quarter Pounder with Cheese and Cheese ‘n’ Cheese.
“He’s definitely come a long way from the alphabet,” said Oscar.
Cookie Monster nodded his head vigorously. “Yep, yep, yep! He very strong brand-a-vid-u-al. Not even need TV show to get endorsements.”
“No surprise. How did it work out for everyone else? I heard they offered the cable networks tax breaks to hire out-of-work Sesame Streeters.”
“Ohhhh, yes,” said Cookie. “Me get job right away on History Channel with Larry the Cable Guy.”
“History Channel?!” shouted Oscar, rearing up from his can. “What do you do on the show?”
“What you think? Eat cookies.”
“What’s that got to do with history?”
“Uhhh…Larry say cookie big part of American history…it…uh…Mrs. Fields….uh…George Washington eat cookies. Yes! Hoe cake. Is TYPE of Cookie. Washington. Father of Country’s Cookies. Yes.”
As Oscar stared skeptically at Cookie Monster, a bus went by with Elmo’s face plaster across the side advertising a major brand of suppositories.
“Okay, me admit it,” said Cookie Monster, googling as he laughed. “Me just eat cookies. But ratings up two points since me start. And me not only one.”
“Uh-huh! Big Bird hosting dating show on Animal Planet. And Grover get own reality show on TLC. It called ‘Hug This Monster’. Doing great among Women 25-54.”
“Yeah, he’s pretty needy. But he always did do well with the ladies,” chuckled Oscar. “Where did the Count end up?”
“Riiiiight,” said Oscar, stroking his chin thoughtfully. “How about little Zoe and Abby Cadabby?”
“Me not know,” said Cookie Monster with a dismissive wave of his hand. “They little girls. No one much care what happen to them.”
The monsters paused as a small plane pulling a bright red banner touting Elmo’s Tequila Coolers passed overhead. Oscar picked up the conversation as the din faded.
“I’m guessing that Bert and Ernie got snapped up right away–they always talked about making a sitcom.”
“Multi-million dollar deal,” nodded Cookie Monster. “But it get cancelled after six episodes. Was just bad ‘Modern Family’ knock-off. They make enough to retire, though. Now they own cupcake bakery. They very happy.”
“Good for them,” said Oscar. “Who am I forgetting.”
“Ah! Sam the Eagle now commentator on Fox News.”
“Wait a second,” said Oscar, eyebrows rising. “That stiff wasn’t even a Sesame Street Muppet! He’s not even a journalist. How’d he land that gig?” Cookie Monster shrugged, and then struck a dramatic pose.
“Free market is as free market does.”
The billboard across the street flashed, and now an animated Elmo waved and pointed at the logo of the New Faith Pregnancy Counseling Center.
“Okay, me got to go now,” said Cookie Monster, tossing Oscar a crunched-up dollar bill. “Me late for tanning session.”
Oscar caught the dollar. “Just one more question. What about Kermit? I always figured he’d land on his two flippers, but it would be good to know for sure.”
“Yes, frog find job,” nodded Cookie Monster. “But he probably need to find new gig again soon.”
“Why? Another bad sitcom?”
“No,” said Cookie Monster, turning his back on Oscar. “He reporter for NPR.”