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No U.S. visit for HIV-positive Muppet

Discussion in 'Sesame Worlds' started by Phillip, Jul 17, 2002.

  1. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    After some conversations with Sesame Workshop, we reported the news last Friday that the HIV character had no plans to come to the US. Now the reprieve is making the rounds...

    No U.S. visit for HIV-positive Muppet
    Courtesy of Yahoo News

    Soothing concerns raised by Republican lawmakers, a U.S. TV Channel says it has no intention of introducing an HIV-infected Muppet to American airwaves.

    Rather, the new Sesame Workshop character is intended for South African audiences only.

    In a letter dispatched to Representative W.J. "Billy" Tauzin, PBS president Pat Mitchell explained that Sesame Workshop is an independent organisation that developed the new Muppet in concert with South African educators and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    The female, HIV-infected Muppet will bow September 30 on "Takalani Sesame," as the local version of the show is known.

    "There are no plans to incorporate this character or curriculum into 'Sesame Street' on PBS," Mitchell said.

    Tauzin and other politicians said they didn't think it would be appropriate to bring the Muppet to the U.S., reminding Mitchell in a letter sent over the weekend that Congress has financial oversight of PBS.

    Top Tauzin aide Ken Johnson said that his boss was satisfied with Mitchell's response.

    "The issue is over," Johnson said. "We had a real simple argument -- let kids be kids. They are going to grow up fast enough. They are going to learn about AIDS, world famine and terrorism soon enough. Why can't they laugh and play for a while?"

    It's another story when it comes to AIDS-ravaged South Africa, where one in nine people are estimated to have the human immuno-deficiency virus, which causes AIDS.

    The new Muppet is intended to humanise and de-stigmatise people with HIV or AIDS. The character will be "lively, friendly and an active participant" in all adventures featured on the show.

    "There was an overwhelming local desire and passion to bring this issue to the program," said Robert Knezevic, Sesame Workshop's assistant VP for international projects.

    Dirk Dijkerman, the U.S. Agency for International Development's director in South Africa, said the new Muppet is a "tremendous teaching opportunity" that will reach almost 14 million people per week via TV and radio.

    Johnson said Tauzin doesn't have a problem with the involvement of U.S. aid in the South African project.
  2. FellowWLover

    FellowWLover Member

    While I don't want to start up the whole thing again... this is pretty much exactly what I was saying in my opposition to the US gaining an HIV Muppet (which we all know is a moot point now anyway). I am not clear on how these gentlemen worded their letter (I guess it included some veiled threats to funding), but this part I agree with.
  3. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    This is what guys in the media call a 'Damage Limitation Excercise' !!!!!
  4. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Want to know the differences between the US and Africa, where kids are actually born into AIDs on an epidemic scale? I do not see them doing this at all (considering this was announced 5 years ago) since we don't have an AIDS/HIV problem that severe. It should be addressed, but I think it has no effect on anyone under Teenage.
  5. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    What it all really boils down to is the sensitive, SENSITIVE issue of homosexuality...

    Apparently, most Americans have this belief that if you have HIV/AIDs, then you're a homosexual, and most of the people who believe this are overzealous Christians (I'm a Christian myself, but even I think we shouldn't be jumping all over the homosexual community like this), and because they're the biggest religious group in this country, they're going to work hard at getting people to avoid this situation...

    Back in 2005 when I was volunteering at my local PBS station, a bunch of the parents in the homeschooling community (which is Faith based) sent out e-mail newsletters telling other parents, teachers, etc to STOP funding public television, and the children's series on PBS (including Sesame Street, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arthur, and other high-rated children's series) because they felt they were teaching children it's okay to be gay and accept other people who were, and let me tell you IT HURT US! I don't mean it hurt our feelings, but it hurt us finacially, as there was a TREMENDOUS dip in pledges and the money we were raising after that; it had gotten so ridiculous in fact that the guys down at the local PBS decided to quietly stop doing pledge drives and simply have disclaimers on their website asking people to "be more, become a member, support public television". I haven't been able to get puppeteering work since then, and this was soon-to-be three years ago.

    It's like I've mentioned in a post awhile back, and at my MySpace blog: this is why Christians have such a bad name right now is because we're being hypocrites! We/they bash homosexuals because they're breaking a Biblical rule/principle, but what we/they seem to forget is that it's also against God's Will to be judgmental of other people so, ergo, THEY'RE just as guilty of being "unholy" as homosexuals.

    This is what it all boils down to. Seriously. I rest my case.
  6. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Well... as I said, not so much that, as we don't have a high HIV/AIDs count amoungst our young as the South Africans do.
  7. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I'm not certain it's the proper time to introduce the character (or at least the HIV factor of her) into the regular US Sesame Street program. I hope that time never comes!

    The HIV+ youth issue remains of such importance to the people of South Africa. That’s not to say youth in the United States and around the world isn’t affected.

    However, I think just as Sesame Workshop has recently created a special video production to aid families of wounded veterans, there could be a video on the HIV topic made available to parents here so that they may use their own discretion. That option wasn't in the picture when this post was originally submitted. Now that it has been unearthed, I see an opportunity. :)
  8. Effralyo

    Effralyo Active Member

    I still can't get on how Kami would become HIV positive, it's not MIV afterall! The Muppets DON'T, I repeat, don't reproduce in a "normal and natural" way (as told by some dumb on DeviantArt...grrrrrrrr!:grouchy: ) - they may MAGICK UP kids with making a wish if they want, so what virus can be in it at all? :concern:
  9. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Who says Muppets can't...do what we humans do? In effect, Jim created the Muppets (and those from the 'Street and Fraggle Rock) to be a response to human society. Heck, the whole FR premise is to show character diversity, whilst expressing values most cultures the world over treasure, such as love, trust, honesty, fairness, etc.
  10. Effralyo

    Effralyo Active Member

    They can't because they have nothing to do with us humans on the inside and are immortal. :p 'Nuff said.
  11. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Actually, that is the main reason why they decided to use a Muppet character. It really would put the problem into perspective by using a magical character. Similar to the Unicef Smurf ad.

    Of course, I still say I'm not wild about the military videos featuring Muppets fighting in wars....
  12. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    I call bullhonkey on that, because all creations are as real as genuine people to their fans and their creators, and as well, fictional or not, most creations are based around the qualities all of us humans have.
  13. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    :) Muppets have a way of relating to people, especially kids, on a level few other things or people do. Can a Muppet actually read? Can Gonzo actually pick up a phone without it being glued to his hand (as in the Jim Henson Hour episode)? Kami is a way to inform kids in South Africa of an issue that plagues them every day - and she does it in such a way that is thoughtful instead of scary. :o

    Also, I believe it is explained that Kami got the disease from her mother. It is explained as a blood disease (which it technically is) rather than anything to do with sex. Kami teaches South African kids how to love, hug and be friends with other kids infected with HIV and how to keep safe when someone scrapes a knee while playing etc.

    However, if this concern was meant out of mostly silliness, please disregard this post. :p
  14. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    I could easily see a video where Kami visits US Sesame Street. Solves the issue of yes/no to having the character on SS.
  15. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Well, not all cases of HIV have to do with sex, and considering all of the Henson properties--as odd and risque as they may be at times--have this modern "nice guy" outlook placed on them, they couldn't obviously--on a kid's show--mention the sexual part of the disease.
  16. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    They couldn't even have done that in the 70's.

    Anyway, A, this is old news, so I don't think SW has changed their minds since, and B... well, how many times has a foreign character actually come to Sesame? Abelardo was the only one. Even with Shalome Sesame (refering to the American English language segments) and Celebrate Around the World, they didn't leave their corner of the globe.
  17. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    Well, that sort of defeats the purpose of world unity, doesn't it?
  18. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    I was just thinking: Poor Kami. Imagine if you have Muppet cousins in another country and you can't even go see them because almost the WHOLE COUNTRY says they don't want you there.

    Imagine how THAT must feel. :(
  19. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    It's still topical no matter how old it is.

    Anyway, I think SS is smart enough now that they could handle a topic like this for a special episode.
  20. wwfpooh

    wwfpooh New Member

    If Sesame were smart, they'd return some characters back to their original states (ex: The Count via the thunder & lightning alongside the Romanian music and of course Cookie's overconsumption of cookies) and would limit Elmo's appearances so that children could see how things were without having to deal with silly disclaimers or whatever. :(


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