Sesame Street, with its loveable and fuzzy characters, is really a mouthpiece for the left's agenda. That's the conclusion of author Ben Shapiro, who after interviewing hundreds of industry insiders found that many of Hollywood's most popular shows, including the popular kids program, are inundated with secret political messages. And he got top executives to admit it.
Shapiro's new book, "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV," according to it's description "is the story—told in their own words—of how television has been used over the past sixty years by Hollywood writers, producers, actors, and executives to promote their liberal ideals, to push the envelope on social and political issues, and to shape America in their own leftist image."
For example, Shapiro quotes Mike Dann, one of Sesame Street's founding executives, saying it "was not made for the sophisticated or the middle class." Using the premise, the team worked in all sorts of messages, including Grover breaking bread with a hippie and Oscar the grouch who was supposed to address "conflicts arising from racial and ethnic diversity." Dann also admitted he used the program in the wake of 9/11 to highlight peaceful alternatives to war.
"Sesame Street tried to tackle divorce, tackled 'peaceful conflict resolution' in the aftermath of 9/11 and had [gay actor] Neil Patrick Harris on the show playing the subtly-named 'fairy shoeperson'," writes Shapiro, according to THR.
The news may not be surprising considering the left's recent use of the show's cuddly character, Elmo. The furry, red puppet has been used to trumpet free internet, lament job loss, and even plug Michelle Obama's child nutrition bill.
But the left-wing messages aren't limited to children's programs. Adults are inundated, too. The Independent explains:
The TV series Friends undermined family values; Sesame Street taught ethnic minorities about civil disobedience; Happy Days had a subtle anti-Vietnam subtext; and the 1980s cop show MacGyver tried to persuade pistol-packing Americans that guns are bad.
Happy Days? Friends? Believe it. Shapiro even got Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman to own up to intentionally hiring liberals and sending a strong message to conservatives in a popular episode:
Among Shapiro's most revelatory interviewees is Marta Kauffman, the co-creator of Friends, who recalls how she hired a "bunch of liberals" to run the programme to "put out there what we believe". In 1999, she admitted casting the actress sister of Newt Gingrich, the prominent Republican, to play a preacher at a lesbian wedding because she wanted to annoy conservatives.
"When we did the lesbian wedding, we knew there was going to be some flack," said Kauffman. "I have to say, when we cast Candice Gingrich as the minister of that wedding, there was a bit of a 'fu** you' in it to the right-wing, directly."
So how did Shapiro get these executives to say such things on record. According to him, he took advantage of liberal stereotypes.
"There was a certain amount of stereotyping on their part in granting the interview," he told the Independent. "Many probably assumed that with a name like Shapiro and a Harvard Law credential, there was no need to Google me: I would have to be a leftist. In Hollywood, talking to a Jew with a Harvard Law baseball cap is like talking to someone wearing an Obama pin."
"I was shocked by the openness of the Hollywood crowd when it came to admitting anti-conservative discrimination inside the industry," he told the paper. "They weren't ashamed of it. In fact, some were actually proud of it."