‘Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street’ Puppets The Muppets
Quality: 3.5 / 5.0
Few things are more universal than “Sesame Street”. Say “Kermit” and that green face and Jim Henson’s voice focus. The name Jim Henson may not ring a bell, but those who grew up on “Sesame Street” will remember the show’s reimagining of TV’s Worst Qualities for good. Henson and the many others turned addiction into informative with unpretentious patience – and “Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street” made sure to appropriate the nostalgia.
The documentary, by director Marilyn Agrelo, is billed as taking “the audience into the minds and hearts of the creators of ‘Sesame Street’.” It’s a stretch. What you really get is a movie that harnesses the power of its real subject – “Sesame Street” – and redirects it to the viewer, with pleasant and insightful talking heads. By the end of the film, the combination of archival footage, interviews from the old and new tapes, and flubbed is enough to cause grief for a show that this documentary confusedly presents as aged.
Even though “boob tube,” which is dropped at first, seems dated next to today’s conflicts around the internet, “Street Gang” makes sure to remind viewers of the foundations of “Sesame Street,” noting that the issues of the 1960s seem as relevant then as they do now. As we come out of an Oscar season that still couldn’t make diversity more than a chore, the zeitgeist “Sesame Street” responded to – Vietnam, running in America, commercial indoctrination – shows America not too different. From now.
Few things in the movie really take us inside spirits of what was known early on in the show – when it had seed money but little more than an idea – as the Children’s Television Workshop. Instead, what “Street Gang” does well is present viewers with what already existed, in a rather eloquent form. Basically, the documentary revamps our adoration and that of the creators for a beloved children’s show, delivering something that doesn’t add anything new to the global understanding of ‘Sesame Street’, but reminds us of the love that a few people had. for a simple and revolutionary idea.
“Street Gang” can’t seem to stop hitting our heads with these anecdotes. It has long been known that “Sesame Street” was the first to mix television and education, and parts of the documentary are getting bigger – the film’s opening line talks about its ratings. Usually, these tidbits eschew stupidity, redirected to highlight why the puppeteers were so passionate about their mission and became testimonies to the vision of ‘Sesame Street’.
However, much of the controversy surrounding “Sesame Street” has been glossed over. “Street Gang” is aimed at Roosevelt Franklin, a character believed to portray black children who have suffered negative reactions for being one-dimensional, but makes no mention of the debate over whether “Sesame Street” taught children to enjoy education or television, or the fact that “Sesame Street” is effectively locked behind a paywall today and inaccessible to many of the people he made it his mission to reach in the first place.
Yet even if he doesn’t take a break to examine the uncomfortable parts of his material’s legacy, “Street Gang” dashes into the composition of “Sesame Street” – with a fractured effect. The documentary questions living creators, their family and friends; he dives into diversity and depression, Big Bird and Mississippi, morals and death. As you persist through this rich and rich history, the focus remains on the series, and that’s what makes you smile, not the documentary itself.
Despite its failure to get viewers into the hearts and minds of the creators of “Sesame Street,” “Street Gang” toured the show with poor execution and all-time charm of its source. It’s not sensational, but it makes you want a feel – a hard thing to do for a movie.
Dominic Marziali covers the film. Contact him at [email protected].