Just what is Elmo teaching children when they tune in to “Sesame Street”? Elmo, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and even Oscar the Grouch are giving kids lessons in liberalism – and they’re not the only TV characters wooing audiences to the left, according to syndicated columnist Ben Shapiro.
Shapiro argues in his new book, “Primetime Propaganda: The True Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV,”
that television executives are just as interested in pushing a social agenda as they are in snaring high ratings.
“They do look for a social component to the programming. It’s not purely a question of simply making money or ratings. To them, they have to make a difference,” Shapiro said in an interview with Newsmax.TV.
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Shows now focus on increasing acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, he said, suggesting that an unwritten rule in comedies dictates: “The first season must have an episode about toleration of homosexuality and how we should accept, nowadays, civil unions and gay marriage.”
Some conservatives are beginning to tolerate the idea of same-sex marriage because they see their favorite TV characters accepting it, he said.
“Shows like ‘Will & Grace,’ shows like ‘Ellen,’ shows like ‘Friends,’ create characters that you identify with, that you like hanging out with. It’s hard to reject your friends.”
“It’s not about rationalism,” he said. “It’s what you feel in your heart for certain characters.”
The funniest characters on TV comedies can be conservatives, but they are depicted as blowhards who inevitably get their come-uppance, Shapiro said, pointing to Alec Baldwin’s Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock” and Nick Offerman’s Ron Swanson on “Parks and Recreation.”
“Liberals like to make conservatives the bad guys,” he said. “He’s the person they like smacking down at the end of the episode and teaching him a nice little moral about life.”
Television’s liberal bias applies not only to show plotlines but also to writers and actors, Shapiro said.
“There are plenty of conservatives who are blackballed,” he said. “If you are a conservative, you will not get work.”
Although some TV stars, such as Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton, are known for more conservative politics, Shapiro said they didn’t openly espouse these positions until they were well established.
Shapiro points to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” which ran from 1959-1964 and lived on for decades in reruns, as the first instance of leftist messaging in television.
“He’s the first guy to really start putting his politics on TV. He could do so through the medium of science fiction, which allowed him this kind of distance from reality,” Shapiro said.
In an episode called “The Monsters on Maple Street,” Shapiro said, “the episode is specifically geared to the idea there is nothing to be afraid of from the red menace, there’s nothing to be afraid of from the Soviet Union.”
But the real shift toward “what right-wingers think of as negative liberalism” began in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Shapiro told Newsmax.TV. He points to “All in the Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” and even “Cheers” as shows with an obvious liberal agenda.
The game-changer in children’s television was “Sesame Street,” he said.
“It was the first television show for children that was focused on multiculturism. Before that, it was all about self-esteem,” Shapiro said.
On “Sesame Street,” he said, “self-esteem had to be applied to different cultures. ‘Sesame Street’ takes place on an urban street where one of your best friends is a grouch who lives in a trash can. It was geared toward Spanish-speaking and black children who lived in the inner city. It was supposed to make them feel better about their lives.”
The characters interacted with nontraditional figures — “Elmo, for example, parlayed with a hippie” — and parents are urged to encourage their children not to lock their children into gender-specific roles.
“Anybody who says that ‘Sesame Street’ is not a liberal program is either ignorant or lying,” Shapiro said.
Editor’s note: To get a copy of Ben Shapiro’s new book, “Primetime Propaganda: The True Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV” — Click Here Now.
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