Something horrible is going on around Sesame Street. First Elmo is revealed as having certain peccadilloes that we won't go into (Hey, I talked with the guy for an hour or so and he was absolutely delightful. He never said anything untoward in my direction!), and now the Cookie Monster has burst forth as a common thief and blackmailer (bit.ly/129ufqI). In Germany, yet!
Actually, it's the sort of crime I tend to approve of. There's a giant cookie -- or biscuit, in European parlance -- that has hung outside the headquarters of Bahlsen, a cookie manufacturer, for 100 years. On its centennial, the dastardly Cookie Monster swooped in, absconded with the biscuit in question and then sent the company a ransom note, complete with the traditional letters cut out of newspaper typeface. Oh, and a photo of the Cookie Monster with the big biscuit.
He's a sort of Robin Hood Cookie Monster, though. The note is demanding a very specific cookie be given to children in a hospital for free on a day in February. And it's very specific that the kids should not be ripped off with the choice of free biscuit.
"But those with milk chocolate, not those with dark chocolate and not those without chocolate. And a golden biscuit for the child cancer ward."
The note continues, "This is serious! Otherwise it will end up with Oscar [the Grouch] in the dustbin, really!!!"
I don't want Oscar involved. Let's just say I have no desire to learn about his dark side. Please, everyone, just do as the Cookie Monster says and it will all be okay.
While Muppets are apparently on the rampage, the titans of streamlined, horrible, soulless children's music are busy making the world safe for kids everywhere ... and safer for degenerate pop stars.
This analysis of the lyrics used in Kidz Bop and Minipop Kids recordings is really the only piece of musical scholarship that matters this week (bit.ly/Xit3LT).
The idea is this -- the two groups cover pop songs for kids, but pop songs, especially these days, have gone so far beyond Annette Funicello yelling "Don't stop now!" that those adapting them to younger ears can no longer argue that words are up for interpretation and what Annette doesn't want stopped is purely up for debate depending on your maturity. In the text of the song, it's plainly about dancing. To think otherwise reveals too much about how your mind works.
Not so with something like "The Lazy Song" by Bruno Mars, which has the lyric, "Meet a really nice girl, have some really nice sex/And she's gonna scream out, ‘This is great.' " Not even remotely about dancing. While the Minipop Kids just omitted the line altogether, Kidz Bop changed it to, "Meet a really nice girl, send a really nice text/And she's gonna write back, ‘You're so great.' "
Katy Perry's "California Gurls" contains this lilting verse: "Sex on the beach/We don't mind sand in our stilettos/We freak/In my jeep/Snoop Doggy Dogg on the stereo."
This time Kidz Bop struggled with alteration and decided to just take it out, while Minipop Kids went forward with, "Fun on the beach/We got my sand in our stilettos/We dance/On my jeep/Snoop Doggy Dogg on the stereo."
This is wrong on multiple levels. Won't the kids who hear these cleaned-up versions encounter the actual songs in the real world? Won't changing the lyrics to these even stupider variations of the originals just highlight what the originals actually say when the kid hears them and starts singing along?
And do they know nothing about children? Once a kid realizes that something has been changed for his or her own protection, won't that make the forbidden product more enticing to the kid?
Congratulations, music industry, it's just another low point for you. You've finally figured out how to sell little kids crappy vulgarity in a shifty way. Yet somehow, the Cookie Monster is the criminal scum and you are legitimate businessmen.
John Seven is the Transcript's arts and entertainment editor.