Stuff People Seem To Like #4: Elmo

13 11 2009

Let’s pause here for a moment to let a little literary Elmo-nalysis seep in.

As we say Happy Anniversary to Sesame Street (well a few days ago), we can’t help but love Elmo. He’s the quintessential Sesame Workshop creation and an archetype of childlike wonder.

I meant to write this post sooner but haven’t been feeling the greatest. As my recovery from the flu presses on, I could use a hug from a shag-carpeted red puppet with a high-pitched voice. For you see, there is more to this falsetto-voiced creature than meets the eye.

Most people would say Elmo is an archetype for the childlike innocent. He is at once charming and non-threatening, with his ambiguous gender identification and nearly asexual being. Elmo may “love you,” but he will never love you. If you catch my drift. He is, in essence, a child stripped of the requisite naughtiness and heartlessness of unbridled youth, sort of an idealized baby that can talk rather than cry. The fact that he produces no waste products (that we know of) adds to Elmo’s charm.

That being said, people are eager to fuddle the innocence of Sesame Street. One of the most popular posts on my blog is the Sesame Street Thanksgiving, featuring a certain feathered friend offered up as a main dish.

Is Elmo really so innocent? His fur is red, bright red, a color symbolizing passion — both for love and war. He really loves people. He is male-gendered.Perhaps the expression should not be “make love not war” but rather, “love Elmo, not war.”

Perhaps Elmo is all of these things at once, symbolizing our innocent hopes and dreams as well as the passion and zeal we feel both for life and other people. I cannot argue with the simultaneous poignancy and surreality of Sesame Street, when all is said and done. Elmo may have ambiguous taxonomy, but his love for humanity is unquestionable.