How Sesame Street Dealt With 9/11

Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images for HBO
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images for HBO
by Louisa Mellor

When Sesame Street’s 33rd season went to air a few months after September 11, 2001, the show’s creators knew they had to acknowledge that day’s tragic events. The beloved educational show had a reputation for talking honestly to its young audience about difficult subjects, from grief to bullying, divorce, and racism. This would be no different.

"It was a devastating time for all of us," Rosemarie Truglio, the show's senior vice president of education and curriculum, recalled. "We felt we needed to do something in response to 9/11, but we knew we had to be very careful, because our viewers are so young, and parents are returning to educational programming as a safe haven for kids."

The key question was how to help preschoolers understand the aftermath of a terrorist attack without scaring them further. Metaphors were the answer.

Rather than depict an attack on the streets of Manhattan, Sesame Street’s creators depicted a kitchen fire breaking out in Hooper’s Store. No flames were shown, only smoke. The sequence advised children on safe behavior when witnessing a fire: to tell a grown-up, evacuate, or “stay low and go” and alert the fire department.

But the real message came in the aftermath of the fire. Sesame Street used its youngest, most vulnerable character, Elmo, to help children through their anxiety. As the firefighters—real life members of the Fire Department of New York—made the store safe again, Elmo was shown shaking and traumatized by the smoke, flashing lights, and strange firefighting equipment. He never wanted to go back to Hooper’s Store again.

But he did, thanks to some patient advice from a friendly FDNY employee named Bill, who gently explained the purpose of his protective clothing and taught Elmo that no matter how scary they might look, firefighters are there to help. An educational visit to the firehouse and a ride on an engine later, and Elmo was back to feeling safe again.

Missing the Days of Clippy? There’s an App That Will Bring Him Back

The Science Elf, YouTube
The Science Elf, YouTube

Some Microsoft Office users might still brace for the appearance of a certain nosy, wide-eyed paper clip whenever they type Dear at the top of a fresh Word document. After all, Clippy was the anthropomorphic pet we never asked for, yet tolerated through several formative years of computer technology.

Though Clippy—short for Clippit—may have been on the receiving end of an industry-wide eye roll in the late 1990s, it’s hard to ignore how much he seems like an early, distant ancestor to applications like Alexa and Siri, upon whom society has developed a pretty significant reliance. Whether you think about the injustice against Clippy every day or you’re just a normal person who likes any excuse to indulge in ‘90s nostalgia, we have news for you: You can rescue him from the void and host him on your very own Mac desktop.

According to Lifehacker, the app was created by a developer named Devran “Cosmo” Uenal, who debuted the program on Github earlier this month. This rather chilled-out Clippy won’t burst into your Word document and offer unsolicited advice on how to write letters, but he’ll still entertain you with animated performances if you right-click on him and choose “Animate!”

As you can see in Uenal’s Twitter video, he might don a pair of oversized headphones and mime a music jam sessions, or he might transform into a googly-eyed, heavy-eyebrowed checkmark.

To download the paperclip pal for yourself, scroll down to the “First start” section on the Github page and click “Download Clippy for macOS,” which should trigger an automatic download. Click on that installation file, and then follow the rest of the directions in the “First start” section to open Clippy on your desktop. From there, the fun is endless.

And, if you’re hungry for more history about the world’s most hated virtual assistant, you can read more about his tragic life here.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Celebrate the Holidays With a Harry Potter Sock Advent Calendar From Target

Target
Target

Harry Potter Advent calendars are becoming a new Christmas tradition among wizards and witches at heart. For the 2019 holiday season, LEGO is launching an Advent calendar set of Harry Potter minifigures, and Funko is releasing its own calendar themed around the Yule Ball. Now, Bustle reports that Target is getting in on the action with four new Advent calendars packed with Harry Potter-themed socks.

No matter what type of Harry Potter fan you are, there's a batch of socks for you in Target's line-up. If you're someone who gets assigned a different house every time you take a sorting hat quiz, go with the first Advent calendar. It includes socks in men sizes 6 through 12 emblazoned with the crests and colors of all four Hogwarts houses.

The other three packs feature women's socks with a somewhat random assortment of designs. You'll find footwear branded with iconic Harry Potter imagery, like Hedwig the owl, the golden Snitch, and the Hogwarts Express. Other socks bear quotes from the books and films, like "Mischief Managed" from the Marauder's Map and Hagrid's famous one-liner, "You're a wizard, Harry."

Every Harry Potter Advent calendar from Target comes with 15 pairs of socks, working out to just $1 a pair. If you'd like to start planning the holiday season early this year, you can order them today from Target.com. And to make the holidays even more magical, don't miss out on this Hogwarts castle tree topper that plays "Hedwig's Theme."

Harry Potter socks from Target.
Target

Harry Potter sock advent calendar.
Target

Harry Potter socks from Target.
Target

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy.

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