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'Sesame Street': Katy Perry's cleavage, 'True Blood' and other questionable moments in Muppet history

Katy Perry
Katy Perry (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

It may seem that everyone's favorite Muppet show is angling for an older audience with the two new videos recently released online.

In the first, an amply endowed Katy Perry chases Elmo around asking, "Don't you want to play?" In the second video, the Muppets parody HBO's steamy southern soap opera "True Blood," replacing vampires with Grouches in a skit called "True Mud." "Sesame Street" has pulled Perry's song from the show after "feedback" received, but this is not the first controversy involving the storied children's program.

In fact, the first five years of the show are considered "adult only" material, with a prominent warning on the 2007 DVD release: "These early 'Sesame Street' episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today's preschool child."

The more scandalous scenes include "Monsterpiece Theater" skits with Cookie Monster eating a pipe and Oscar the Grouch being too, well, grouchy. Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of "Sesame Street," told the New York Times in 2007, "We might not be able to create a character like Oscar now."

Then there has been the long-standing debate about two male Muppets who make a home together. Are Ernie and Bert lovers, friends, enemies? In 1994, the Rev. Joseph Chambers thought they were definitely more than just friends and called for their banishment from the show. The show issued a response: "Bert and Ernie, who've been on Sesame Street for 25 years, do not portray a gay couple, and there are no plans for them to do so in the future," but speculation remains high.

The show airs in 120 countries, most with characters suited to the country's traditions. For example, the Israeli "Sesame Street" has an Arab character that, at first caused some consternation, but has become a popular part of the show. One of the most scandalous international stars, however, has to be Kami, the South African Muppet who is HIV-positive. Republican congressmen Billy Tauzin, Chip Pickering, Fred Upton, Joe Barton, Richard Burr and Cliff Stearns warned PBS not to introduce similar characters to the U.S. show, suggesting that Congress could withhold funding.

Last, but not least, conservative viewers and Fox News became upset when the show seemed to mock the television network by having an irate Muppet insist she would watch only "Pox News" from now on.

Did we miss any scandalous "Sesame Street" scenes?

By Melissa Bell  | September 23, 2010; 11:50 AM ET
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Let's see, there are minor but I do recall some raised eyebrows over the "H. Ross Parrot" character way back when. You know, the straight-talkin' parrot with the prominent ear feathers intended to spoof the well known billionaire and third party candidate.

And some got a little bent out of shape when Neil Patrick Harris played the "Shoe Fairy."

Of course, the biggest, and most legitimate scandal was when Sesame Street had the grownups accuse poor Big Bird of about making up stories about Mr. Snuffleupagus. Telling kids that grownups will never believe them was, I think, far worse than a little innocent pop-star d├ęcolletage.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | September 23, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Any parent who called to complain about this without first calling the local mall to complain about the window displays at Victoria Secret is a hypocrite.

I have a seven-year old and this upbeat video didn't trouble me in the least. What does trouble me is are mall window displays with mannequins who look like they belong on street corners at 2am, fashion posters with women who look like abused heroin addicts and the overall anorexic hyper-sexualized nature of the majority of "hip" fashion displays.

Katy Perry and Sesame Street have nothing to apologize for to knee-jerk puritans who's moral radar is so damaged they take small children to the mall and let teens hang out there without once objecting to the culture the stores are selling them.

Women have breasts. Get over it. Depicting women as anorexic, addicted sex objects is a much bigger problem.

Posted by: AlertCitizen | September 23, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Ah jeez...

Palin in 2012!

Why the hell not, world's supposed to end anyway.

Posted by: NancyNaive | September 23, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

This is not out of line. Just have a look at the Barbie isle in a store. Fairytopia showed as much cleavage. Society has gone nuts with political correctness.

Posted by: kdanc | September 23, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

If Melissa Bell thinks Kate Perry is amply endowed she needs to look around. Ms Perry's breast seem to be small to normal in size. By today's standards the dress she is wearing is quite appropriate. But the dress and her cleavage(?) should not even be a matter for discussion. I am fine with my 8-year old seeing this. I do not care for the style of music but that is today's music and kids love it. They may even listen and learn. I bet Melissa Bell has a Sarah Palin bumper sticker on her car!

Posted by: drybean | September 23, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

I see more cleavage in church on Sunday morning than was shown by Kate Perry on the Sesame Street video. What do some people want? Maybe require kids to close their eyes when they go shopping with Mom at the mall. Ads on TV are more revealing.

Posted by: chellisjr | September 23, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I don't have any problem with Ms. Perry outfit, however I do object to her poor singing.

Posted by: kevbark1 | September 25, 2010 4:27 AM | Report abuse

I don't have any problems with Ms. Perry outfit, however I do object to her poor singing.

Posted by: kevbark1 | September 25, 2010 4:28 AM | Report abuse

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