Point/Counterpoint: Are Muppets actually monsters?

Is Grover actually a monster?

The latest parody video coming from Sesame Street makes me think it’s about to stumble into a controversy bigger than whether or not a certain dress that a certain someone wore was really see-through.

The video features Grover parodying an appearance by the Old Spice man. It’s pretty much a shot-for-shot copy of the original commercial, except for the cow. But what I found shocking, more shocking than any part that certain someone’s anatomy that we never actually saw, was how they parodied the tagline for Old Spice – “Smell like a man.” Instead, they used “Smell like a monster.”

Monster? This is news to me. When did Muppets become monsters? Was this a detail I had glazed over in all my childhood years spent watching PBS? I reached out to our Web editor, Liz Hoffman – the only person I knew would have solid information and who wouldn’t think twice about getting the following text message:

“Was Grover always a monster?” I wrote.

“Like, did he have a human life before he was a monster? I don’t think so…” she replied.

“No, I mean was it always accepted that he was a monster? A friendly monster, but still a monster?”

“Ah. Well, I mean, in the same way that Cookie Monster was a monster. That is, a good monster?”

Cookie Monster … forgot about that one. I guess I always thought the monster part was superfluous, the same way I assumed the Count as a vampire never posed any real danger. He could have been named Cookie Fanatic and it would have conveyed the same meaning, it just wouldn’t have been as catchy.

(For the completely un-verified record, Wikipedia says the word “muppet” isnot a marriage of “monster” and “puppet,” but rather of “marionnette” and “puppet,” which seems silly since they both mean the same thing.)

Sesame Street is just getting past its previous gaffe, pulling a segment featuring singer Katy Perry doing a parody of her hit song “Hot N’Cold” with Elmo after concerns about her wardrobe choice. Now, whether a female singer who’s most well-known for a song titled “I Kissed a Girl” should be on children’s television at all are questions that can be debated around the sandbox. But can’t we all agree that Muppets aren’t monsters?

And given the choice between the things I could smell like (man, Muppet or monster) I would definitely choose Muppet. I would think a Muppet smells really nice, like fresh laundry and nostalgia.

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