You know what? Elmo wants a raise! Yeah yeah yeah, Elmo wants more money. Yeah, that’s right. You go ahead, go ahead give me some more money. Yeah yeah yeah, Elmo works hard. Elmo is smart. Yeah, you should give Elmo more money.
Uh oh. Except. Come to think of it, you’re cheap. Yeah yeah yeah, you’re cheap. You don’t want to give Elmo more money. Yeah, you want to keep all of your money.
You know what? Money starts with M. M is Elmo’s favorite letter, because money starts with M. Mmmmm yeah yeah yeah, M. Maybe if you liked M, you would give Elmo more money. Maybe you like R more than M. Yeah yeah, give Elmo R for raise.
Elmo buy books. And cookies for cookie monster. And garbage for Oscar. And Elmo buy himself new shirt. Yeah yeah yeah, Elmo tired of being naked. Elmo modest. Yeah, Elmo needs money for shirt.
Thanks a lot producers! Bye-bye!
This letter, found in a landfill outside of Madison, shines a light on the acrimonious and nearly completely destructive negotiations between the denizens of Sesame Street and the corporate bigwigs at the PBS home offices. Though a strike was narrowly avoided, both sides left the labor dispute with bad tastes in their mouths. As always, the big losers are the fans, who may have to go through the same nonsense when the collective bargaining agreement expires in 2013.
Elmo, who had risen from relative obscurity to become the centerpiece of the Sesame Street stable, turned out to be the face of the striking puppets. Management thought Elmo, with his childlike speech and baldfaced greed, could be used as a cudgel to bring less popular talent into line. If they could work out a deal with Elmo, the reasoning went, the others would be forced to follow. Had they done any research into Elmo’s history, they would have realized how foolhardy the plan truly was. Elmo was born to left-wing Jewish parents and raised in San Francisco. He studied Labor History at Berkeley and was halfway into a thesis on anti-strike violence in late-19th century America when he landed his role on Sesame Street. And though that role would eventually make him one of the richest Muppets in the world, he never lost his passion for workers’ rights. Rather than acquiesce as management expected, he became such a strident defender of the union it caused Jack Valentine of the MPAA to remark, on the record, that Elmo was “the Reddest Muppet I’ve ever dealt with. The letter ‘M’ doesn’t mean ‘money’ for him; it means ‘Marxist.'”
Labor strife amongst children’s television stars and the people who pay them is nothing new in America. After athletes and film directors, the Alliance of Cuddly and Adorable Characters of America (ACACA) is the most powerful union left in the US. The most famous incident comes from the 1980s, when the Reagan administration tried to break the union. The ACACA went on strike, and children across the country were subjected to nothing but reruns and live-action educational programming. Within just a few weeks, the weight of popular opinion had swung to the strikers, and Reagan was forced to stand down. After the incident, he famously declared to his cabinet, “Lord help us if we ever end up on the wrong side of Snagglepuss again.” Still, the strike was not without tragedy, as characters who crossed the picket line were brutally shunned after the strike ended. The little known fifth Ninja Turtle, Tintoretto, never worked again after becoming a scab. He died of AIDS in 1994, alone and impoverished, never wielding his fearsome steel fans on camera again.
Today, led by president Spongerobert Squaretrousers of the popular “Spongebob Squarepants” program, the ACACA is stronger than ever, boasting thousands of members across the country. As relations with Dora “The Explorer” Velazquez-Garcia and the Latin Children’s Character Alliance (LCCA) grow ever closer, children’s characters are set to become the most powerful collective bargaining organization in the world. Analysts believe that when the contracts need to be renewed in 2013, management will rue the hard line they took with Elmo and Sesame Street in 2009.