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FIRST-PERSON: This, Sesame Street, is a role model?

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Appropriateness, a noun derived from the word appropriate, is defined by the Concise Oxford English Dictionary as “suitable; proper.” As a concept, the idea of appropriateness seems to not only be misunderstood by American popular culture, it seems almost altogether absent.

For instance, appropriateness was the last thing on the mind of “Sesame Street” producers when they invited pop singer Katy Perry to appear on the popular children’s education program. The pop singer taped a spot singing a sanitized version of her song “Hot N Cold” with the muppet Elmo.

When the video was leaked on to the Internet, parents were livid. It seems Perry was prancing around revealing too much cleavage. The producers promptly pulled the plug.

In a statement sent to Time magazine, Sesame Street said, “Sesame Street has always been written on two levels, for the child and adult. We use parodies and celebrity segments to interest adults in the show because we know that a child learns best when co-viewing with a parent or care-giver.”

The statement continued, “We also value our viewer’s opinions and particularly those of parents. In light of the feedback we’ve received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on You Tube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers.”

While Sesame Street’s decision is to be commended, I would argue that even if had she dressed appropriately for the program her very appearance on the show was inappropriate.

Perry is a standard run-of-the-mill pop-tart. She has a gifted singing voice, but wastes it singing vapid borderline vulgar songs. Some of her songs are not appropriate for a teenage audience. The song choice for Sesame Street was one of Perry’s more benign songs, but even it had to be cleaned up for the pre-teen audience.

Born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson, Perry is 25 years old. She began her career singing Christian music, but realized little success. Switching gears she began writing and recording pop music. Perry eventually changed her name, adopting her mother’s maiden name, because “Katy Hudson” too closely resembled the name of the actress Kate Hudson.

One of Perry’s most well-known songs is “I Kissed A Girl.” The lyrics describe a lesbian kiss with an anonymous girl. Perry sings, “I kissed a girl and I liked it.” In another song titled “Peacock,” Perry continuously asks a boy to expose himself to her.

While the subject matter of some of Perry’s other songs are a bit tamer, the lyrics often include crass and vulgar language. As a result, Katy Perry is the last person that should be held up to preschoolers, or teenagers for that matter, as a role model.

If Sesame Street feels the need to have celebrities appear on the children’s program, let the producers invite people of character and substance. “Don’t confuse fame with success,” humorist Erma Bombeck once said, “Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.”

A pop-tart who is famous for singing salacious songs has no business appearing on Sesame Street, even if she is not dressed provocatively. The fact that the producers of Sesame Street were unable to discern as much reveals that American pop-culture has lost touch with the concept of appropriateness.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

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