Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and voice behind Elmo, resigned a couple weeks ago, after allegations were made that he had underage sexual relationships. Hasbro, the main toy licensee for “Sesame Street” products, said in a statement:
“We are confident that Elmo will remain an integral part of Sesame Street and that Sesame Street toys will continue to delight children for years to come.”
Really? What about parents? Experts have said that they are estimating that Elmo-related toy sales would be down maybe by about 10 percent because of the stories related about Clash’s personal life. Uh, well, Elmo related toys still bring in millions, so I’m not feeling too bad for Hasbro. But while Elmo may continue to delight children, I’m not so sure, like I said, about parents.
My son, now six months, has just discovered Elmo. Meaning, my fiancé put Elmo on my iPad for him and he’ll watch for a good half hour (and, no, don’t come down hard on me because he’s watching Elmo at six months. He likes it, and mommy likes to EAT occasionally uninterrupted.) But I just can’t seem to get over this whole voice behind Elmo and the allegations. I believe that I have to take the allegations seriously, especially in regard to a product and a brand that I give to my children.
Whenever I hear Elmo’s voice in the background, all I can think of is, “Did he do it?” (Meaning Clash, not Elmo.)
When my daughter was in diapers at age two and could speak, she literally would only wear the diapers with Elmo on the front. I had to buy BOXES of diapers and just pick out the ones with Elmo on the front (It was easier than arguing with her.) Personally, I find Elmo fucking annoying, just like I find most children’s toys and characters voice annoying. Yeah, he’s cute. But still. THAT VOICE!
I’m not going to refuse to let my children watch the shows just because I end up hearing, “Elmo’s World!” or “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family!” – Barney) singing in my head like a broken record. But I AM actually thinking that maybe Elmo should be banned from my house. Yes, Clash resigned and yes, he hasn’t been committed of a crime, but accused of one. And, yes, I do believe in innocent until proven guilty. But still….I will never think of Elmo the same again.
So what’s a mother to do? Does she let her child watch Elmo, with a new voice, even though I’m now soured on Elmo (again, perhaps this isn’t entirely fair) And, yes, there will be a new voice. But then I’ll always be thinking, “There’s a new voice because…”
My daughter, age nine, has heard about all the Elmo attention and commotion from friends at school, and I’ve also had to explain to her what happened or may have happened. Thank God, she’s way past the Elmo stage so doesn’t give a shit about Elmo. But my son? He’s just getting into it.