Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The Return to Innocence

Many years ago, Chris and I had the opportunity to attend an art gallery opening for an exhibit on Penguin Books from writer, artist, Canadian Icon and creator of the term Generation X: Douglas Coupland.  We were thrilled to see such a neat exhibit, and the gallery operator even offered to introduce us to Coupland.  We nodded, said hello, shook hands, Chris gushed that he was a big fan and then took off in the opposite direction mumbling something about needing to go check out the exhibit one more time.

When we left the event I asked Chris why he'd hit the eject button so early.  He explained to me that he generally has a very clear picture in his mind about artists (musicians, writers, celebrities), especially ones that he feels he has connected with their work and he doesn't want them to mess with what he has created in his head.  Specifically if they turn out  to be giant jerks or idiots.  I found this a little strange, especially since he is someone who will read the book and see the movie, but I fully understand the romanticised version of art that you've created for yourself and not wanting someone to impact that.*

This week Kevin Clash, the brain and voice behind Sesame Street's infamous Elmo, was accused of having an underage relationship with a young man.  These allegations have been investigated, and dropped.**  As someone who works in PR I can only imagine what the folks on Sesame Street are dealing with this week, shortly after the launch of their newest holiday season toy of choice LOL Elmo, in trying to separate the man from the puppet.  I understand the importance and impact that Elmo has on children, specifically ones with terminal illnesses who often request to meet Elmo because as the documentary Being Elmo aptly pointed out, Elmo is love.  I was born a few years too early to be a part of the Elmo generation, but I get the importance of this character. 

As a former child turned parent I get the need for a hero.  There aren't enough of them, especially when we get constant exposure to the character and celebrity.  I grew up with a love of Super Grover and Mr. Dress Up and only knew them as I was intended to, as an entertaining escape.  The only man behind the puppet I knew was Jim Hensen, the soul of Kermit the Frog, and that spirit lives on even after his death.  I feel lucky that I grew up in a time before instantaneous news and that I was able to ignore the man behind the green curtain for just a little while longer than my children will be able to. 

I am not going to comment on the Clash accusations, but no matter what, in the end Elmo will never be just about love again, and that makes me sad.

Photo of Mr. Dress Up courtesy of MrsJaen

*Think Sheldon Cooper vs. Will Wheaton on the Big Bang Theory, sometimes the less you know about someone the better.  I have a friend who still has a serious issues with Super Man because he saw Christopher Reeves treat a fan poorly.
**Here's a recent release on the Kevin Clash Story

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