PBS is in trouble, an erudite cornered by a pack of roundheads. It and NPR may yet survive the onslaught, though it won’t be for lack of trying on the part of the Republican majority of Congress, whose motto appears to be “culture is for yogurt.”
While the public broadcasting debate becomes progressively weirder and more politically transparent, I find myself concerned with some of the employees of public broadcasting, who will find themselves on the street if funding for PBS is slashed. Specifically, I’m worried about the Muppets on “Sesame Street.”
Where will they go? What will they do? Oh, sure, there are some who say that they could find a home on commercial TV. But honestly. If they had an interest in the private sector, they would have joined Kermit the Frog when he left to host “The Muppet Show” in the late ‘70s.
No, the brave Muppets of “Sesame Street” stayed behind, helping to educate nearly every American under the age of 30. Now, after a quarter of a century in public service, I fear it may be too late for them to change.
Here are my thoughts on some of the more prominent Muppets, what their skills and weaknesses are, and how they might fare in the world. If these assessments seem bleak to you, get on the horn to your congressman and tell him to save the Muppets. You know that they would do as much for you.
Description: Large, flightless bird, similar to a canary on steroids.
Notable skills: “People person” or whatever the bird equivalent is; vocabulary far superior to other talking birds, such as parrots; lives in the city, appears to be pollution-resistant.
Personal Flaws: Insecure; tendency to see imaginary “friends” psychologically suspect; plumage highly flammable; big ugly chicken feet.
Comments: Would do well in a service-oriented industry or other public-oriented job; because of physiology, should probably avoid going near poultry processing plants.
Bert & Ernie
Description: Bert: bullet-shaped head, thickest unibrow since Frieda Kahlo. Ernie: squat with a fondness for horizontal stripes.
Notable skills: Bert: highly organized, desires structure. Ernie: creative, non-linear thinker; loyal and enthusiastic.
Personal Flaws: Bert: Type-A; screams a lot at Ernie; nose comes off at inappropriate times. Ernie: messy; scatterbrained; frequently appears on television in the nude, “bathing” and stroking inanimate objects (his “rubber ducky”).
Comments: Bert’s latent aggression toward Ernie probably due to the fact, though the two have been living together as a couple for years, they still sleep in separate beds; Ernie’s job prospects would improve with a different shirt.
In 10 years: Bert: Dead of congestive heart failure. Ernie: greeter at Wal-Mart.
Description: Vampire; myopic in one eye; sharp teeth.
Notable skills: Good with numerical sequences; can change into a bat.
Personal Flaws: Appears flummoxed past the number 12; other Muppets found drained of blood when left with him unattended.
Comments: Could probably get a job at a blood bank if he would stop putting “will provide own straw” on job applications.
In 10 years: Deported under national Proposition 187.
Description: Blue, pear-shaped, cross-eyed.
Notable skills: None.
Personal Flaws: Hopeless substance abuser; manic; dumb as a rock.
Comments: Excellent candidate for Prozac.
In 10 years: The next Susan Powter.
Oscar the Grouch
Description: Green, misanthropic, smelly.
Notable skills: Good with invective and putdowns.
Personal Flaws: Wallows in trash; of all Muppets, the least likely to contribute to PBS.
Comments: Probably a Republican.
In 10 years: Speaker of the House.
This column was brought to you by the letters G, O, and P, and the number 104.
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