Sesame Street scandal

Whether you are following the lengthy and ongoing implosion of Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford, or the Senate scandal, I feel like we’ve seen this before, time and again. The inevitable endings seem cliché before they even play out. Rules don’t get enforced. People get off with a badly rehearsed apology. It seems that it’s easier to stick our heads in the sand than to hold people accountable and responsible (except in the most egregious situations).

If Sesame Street choreographed the episode it would go something like this:

Bert is accused of stealing cookies from the cookie jar (whether or not Ernie says he has a video of the incident). Bert denies any wrong doing, then acts shocked and outraged. Bert defends himself as the victim and turns a negative light on the person accusing him.

(It’s funnier if you picture Bert’s unibrow furrowing and read this in his voice):

“I didn’t steal the cookies. That is a lie and I am outraged that someone would think that of me. I have never gone into the kitchen except to make sure that there are enough fruits and vegetables for the children to eat. I am not a cookie thief. I did nothing wrong and the person who made that accusation is a liar and a bed-wetter.”

The hope here is that Big Bird will accept Bert’s reply at face value and will focus on Ernie’s supposed bed-wetting. After all, we don’t like conflict, and we’re likely to believe almost any weakly plausible drivel spouted our way.

Bert is hoping that Ernie will also start to doubt himself and will say “Oh. Okay Bert, I must have made a mistake. Let’s sing and count sheep.”

If the dust doesn’t settle and allegations continue, Bert sticks to denying everything, but gets more adamant about his hurt and talks about his values. Especially if the news media gets involved and there is a “Sesame Street News Flash,” Bert will say everything except what he’s asked:

“Did I steal a cookie? Did I steal a cookie?” (Remember to read this in Bert’s voice).

“How could you ask me if I would steal a cookie? I am too busy reading books, sorting my paperclips, and feeding starving pigeons to ever do anything wrong.”

Only when more evidence is available does the story begin to change. “Kermit the Frog here, we have obtained the video where Bert is seen stealing a cookie from the cookie jar.”

Suddenly there is a silence. You can almost see the train railroad junction and the switchman standing there diverting the train of thought from one course to a new one inside Bert’s large forehead. The silence may or may not be followed by “No comment” from Bert.

Options left open to Bert? Be the victim, blame someone else and hope they will now take the heat, blame something out of his control, or accept responsibility and the consequences.

“Regarding the cookie, I was put up to it. The Snuffleupagus made me do it.”

(Since Snuffleupagus is unknown to so many people, in fact most people don’t think he exists, Bert may feel pressured to blame a condition outside of his control and have an expert say it wasn’t really his fault).

“My mother was a cookie monster. I am a cookie monster. I have no control over my addiction to food, especially cookies. I am a maniac around chocolate chip cookies. Please love me.”

Bert breaking down in tears may sway a few people to believe the “truth” of the confession. The Count then takes the stage to make the problem seem less than it is: “Bert is a good boy. He only stole one… ah-ah-ah… cookie.”

Kermit the frog reports that everything is back to normal on Sesame Street even though Oscar the Grouch is sitting in his trash can saying Bert should be tossed off the show. No one is listening to Oscar because people have decided it is easier to focus on “Sunny days” and “chasing the clouds away” and now the music is cued.

The announcer says: “Today’s episode was brought to you by the letter C. C is for coward, collusion, complacency, and corruption.”

The credits roll.

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