I was just in the process of reviewing some of my ramblings from years gone by when I came across a brief topic about Sesame Street, from 2008, and how the creators of that show had created a series of programs specifically to help children come to terms with various traumatic situations, such as their parents breaking up or getting ill. I was looking into how I might elaborate on the topic when I came across a list of supposed disorders the various characters of Sesame Street themselves have. These include:
- Ernie – suffers from insomnia and ADD
- Bert – has Asperger’s Syndrome
- Big Bird – a schizophrenic
- Snuffy – suffers from depression
- Elmo – narcissistic personality disorder
- Cookie Monster – has an eating disorder
- Grover – Megalomania
- Oscar – a compulsive hoarder
- Count – suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder
- Two-Headed Monster suffers from multiple personality disorder
(pictures are below)
Whether you agree with any of the above, primarily humorous, analogies, I find that no matter what I watch I can find issue with the people I see. Most of what I watch at the moment is various people on Youtube, or as of late I’ve been working my way through Big Bang Theory episodes.
People on Youtube, the popular ones whose videos get at least a few hundred views within the first week of uploading, by their very nature have “the gift of the gab” that is, they can talk to the camera about anything that takes their fancy for long enough to get you hooked. In order to curb my compulsion to binge-watch stuff I seem to have developed a knack for seeing through various façades to ways certain content “doesn’t serve me”. I also think that by the very act of watching certain videos I’m endorsing behaviour I don’t actually think is healthy, and how I risk taking on such traits the more I absorb them.
Perhaps this is all just human nature in varying degrees but to repeatedly watch the same characters and people some things do begin to grate, some sooner than others.
These traits or issues could be on cookery channels which promote unhealthy eating (albeit perhaps not intentionally), or health channels created by so-called doctors that just lead to masses of people (as I see from the comments on such videos) suffering anxiety about their own health. Various hobbies (and the dreaded unboxings) that to me to scream “hoarding issue”, or at the least someone’s urge to share with the world what they have just bought (buying into materialism) and how wonderful it is. Sometimes the hosts of popular channels seem to be terribly narcissistic (I don’t want to share any examples, sorry), and how every episode needs to include some cringe-worthy catchphrase – maybe this is simply entertaining for many people; before I became aware of this darker side I’m sure I would have been entertained by it. Other people I have seen I can just feel sorry for, like the ones that show you them doing something, such as they might call a “How to…”, but the video ends up so long and drawn out that it becomes clear that they are just showing you how they are doing it, that they just need you there to hold their hand along the way and need you to keep them company in their lonely pursuit. Other videos might profess to be packed with information, or seem to on the surface, but turn out to contain little substance, just half an hour of back-patting.
In the case of Youtube these are all real people, but in the case of the Big Bang Theory characters, they’re fictional, that is, fictional characters as imagined by the writers, played out by the actors, and directed by the directors and laughed at by the audience. There is a therefore a feedback loop that exists among real people; we behave a certain way in front of others and they respond accordingly, either affirmatively or discouragingly, encouraging more or less of the same. To me the characters in this comedy series have remained fairly constant in some ways, such as how they dress and the social situations they are presented in, and only developing in their day-to-day lives, such as getting married or holding different jobs. Penny is the only one that seems to have developed a different dress sense to better suit her maturing character; Howard, who while getting married perhaps hasn’t matured and thus dresses the same, as does Sheldon for the most part. The apartments are the same too, which is particularly odd since we have seen Sheldon’s apartment before Howard moved in, it then quickly changed, and then supposedly remained the same all these years. This is at odds with how I see myself and how I have lived during the same period. In other ways the characters have changed, and in this regard perhaps it is my own perception, especially where traits have become annoying, such as Sheldon Cooper’s narcissism in particular; it’s supposed to be funny but I find it troubling to watch now – he surely really would have no friends!
If this all sounds overly harsh, especially with regards to the non-fictional people on Youtube, then I have to admit that if I was as comfortable in front of a camera, and not having the self-awareness of suffering from any of these examples, then I’d probably be creating such videos too (I have tried), and who knows, maybe I’m just a little bit bitter because I’m not popular like that. It just makes my mind boggle that so many people are sucked into watching such content and “liking it” and (thus) encouraging it. A particular case in point is when popular people on Youtube make a big change that throws their channel into disarray, such as when Youtube vegans start eating meat again, or when you see people grind to a halt with their desire to create regular content and/or say how they are no longer creating videos only to about turn and start uploading again a few weeks later – Youtube is a drug not only for its viewers but it is a drug for those creating content too; creators might enjoy the filming, editing and creating aspects, but they also feed on that feedback loop too. To create and be appreciated is to feel like you exist, I’m sure I feel something of this when I write here to my blog.
Sometimes though, I will have the idea for something, either here on my blog or for Youtube, maybe even make a start on it, and then lose the enthusiasm and then wonder what the point is and how it doesn’t seem to be a constructive thing for others to be watching/absorbing/reading. Does everything need to be constructive or overly creative? Surely not. But I struggle with entertainment that is solely for entertainment’s sake; I like to read more into things, ponder things.
Anyway, which Sesame Street character are you!? In our family we always liked Elmo but I haven’t watching him for a while.