Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cookie Monster

I've got to write about this because its one of those things that when I heard it, I literally thought at first that it had to be some kind of joke. I really did. As I was driving home from the park yesterday there was a morning talk show on the radio discussing a segment of The View (as in, the tv show) that I think had aired maybe the day before. The topic of conversation was Cookie Monster (of Sesame Street fame), and how he is now being blamed for childhood obesity in America. Wait...what??? I seriously thought that the radio show was doing some kind of spoof of The View, maybe making fun of some of the ridiculous arguments those ladies get into because otherwise, how does saying that make any sense at all?

Apparently there was recently an episode of Sesame Street where the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture came on to teach Cookie Monster the benefits of healthy eating.

People do lots of things that I find irritating, or silly, or at the very least I just don't understand. This falls into all three of those categories. I think to blame a fictional character, a fuzzy blue puppet no less, with the obesity epidemic that our country is facing is more than just a little absurd. Let's think about this argument for a second, and all of the holes there are in it. Here, I'll just make a list; that'll be easier.

1. I looked it up; Sesame Street is aired in 77 countries around the world, but we here in America are the only ones who keep getting fatter.
2. What about all the kids who grew up watching Sesame Street and didn't get fat?
3. By that same token, what about all the obese people out there who never watched the show at all?
4. Sesame Street has been around since 1977. If we're going to pin the eating habits of Americans on cartoon tv shows, then I think we ought to consider a few others. Bugs Bunny (who incidentally was voted the greatest cartoon character of all time) has been around since 1940. Popeye first debuted in 1929. Garfield the Cat in 1978. the Flintstones in 1960.

My point with comment #4 is this; there have always been cartoon characters with a penchant for eating. If the argument being made against poor old Cookie Monster were true, then why didn't we have a generation of kids obsessed with eating spinach like Popeye, or carrots like Bugs? And if this is really such a problem, why don't Garfield and Fred Flintstone and Scooby Doo get to share some of the blame? Those characters are defined by their eating habits just as much, if not more than Cookie Monster. Why just Cookie Monster, and why now all of a sudden?

Here's what I think. I think obesity really is a problem but rather than people accepting the blame for their own poor diet choices, or those of their kids, they need to find a scape goat to blame. It's no different than blaming video games for school violence or rap music for underage drinking and drug use. The people making these arguments are people who have been to lazy, or too ignorant, or just too indifferent to see what was going on with their kids, and rather than admit that maybe they weren't quite as great a parent as they could have been, they're looking for an out. This irritates me to no end.

When kids are overweight (barring any medical problems) it's 100% the parents' fault. That's it. There's no two ways about it. Of course kids would rather eat cookies or a happy meal than vegetables! Come on! I'm 23 and I'd rather eat cookies than vegetables; cookies taste good! But I don't make that choice because growing up, my mom and dad made me eat vegetables and fruit and other healthy stuff and taught me that cookies are fine in moderation, but that can't be all I eat or else, before long, I won't be able to fit into any of my clothes anymore. Let's think about this; little kids can't drive themselves to the grocery store or through a fast-food drive-thru; they don't have jobs so they don't have money; they can't cook for themselves. Basically, until they're probably 10 or so, kids eat exactly what their parents give them to eat. End of story. The argument against Cookie Monster is that he makes kids think its ok to eat an entire box of cookies all at once. Well my question to any parent would be, why in the world would you even give your kid an entire box of cookies at one time in the first place?

The bottom line is this. We as a country are getting fatter, because we're lazy and we're ignorant about what we're putting in our mouths and we're making our kids that way too. Now leave poor old Cookie Monster alone. Sheesh.

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