Learning on the Streets: How Sesame Street Changed the World

652 Words3 Pages
The invention of television in the late 1920’s would have lasting effects on the world. By the late 1940’s, televisions began appearing in homes across the US, though they were still expensive and uncommon at that time. The magic of television fascinated people, and in 1946, thirteen-year-old Jim Henson was insistent that his family have a television of their own. As he would later put it, “I badgered my family into buying a set. I absolutely loved television,” (qtd. in ch. 2, Jones). Watching the four stations available in the D.C. area throughout his adolescence religiously, the lifelong gadget-lover decided then he was going to work in television. He would watch the variety shows and cartoons in junior high and high school but his senior year, a milestone for television occurred. In March 1954, television broadcasted the hearings between Senator Joseph McCarthy and the US army. This was Jim’s first experience with television’s immense power as an educator in addition to an entertainer. That episode would remain with him for life (ch. 2, Jones). From his late adolescence to his premature death in 1990, Jim Henson worked in television and film. He is most known for creating the Muppets but his work includes several live action experimental short films and two full-length movies made with animatronics. He was fascinated by technology and innovation in puppetry and other media. For example, the documentary Youth 68, a one-hour production about the various lifestyles of the 1960’s, was done for technical rather than political or social reasons. Jim was more interested in playing with the available technology of the time than on conveying any one message through its content. His love of complicated puppetry would manif... ... middle of paper ... ..., The Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock became the first Western shows to air in the Soviet Union, and was broadcasted in ninety countries total (ch 11). Jim’s view of television’s power, role, and responsibility can be summed up in his acceptance speech when he was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1987: Television is already one of the most powerful influences on our culture, but because it is so powerful, there’s a great deal of responsibility that goes with that. And I think those of us that make programs, particularly for children, have to be aware of what we’re putting out there. I think this is what is fun for me, and why I am very grateful for this very special honor…it makes my work-or rather my fun-so gratifying. (qtd in ch.13, Jones) Works Cited Jones, Brian Jay. Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books, 2013. Kindle ebook.

More about Learning on the Streets: How Sesame Street Changed the World

Open Document