Big Bird's name has been flying around quite a bit lately, as presidential candidate Mitt Romney has mentioned that he would stop the subsidy to PBS, which airs the long-running children's television program Sesame Street. During the presidential debate last week, Romney said part of his plan would be to cut funding to any program that isn't "so critical, it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it." Among the mentioned programs was PBS. And since then, Big Bird's been a trending topic. And apparently it's been used as part of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. But Sesame Street has objected to Big Bird being used in the ad.
The following Ad is currently viewable on BarackObama.com's YouTube Channel...
"I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message," President Obama's voice speaks. And then begins the ominous trailer-voice. "Bernie Madoff, Ken Lay, Dennis Kozlowski, criminals. Gluttons of greed. And the evil genius who towered over them? One man has the guts to speak his name." Cut to a creepy silhouette of Big Bird through an office window. And then clips of Mitt Romney saying "Big Bird." Big Bird appears on screen saying, "It's me! Big bird!" Back to the trailer voice, "Big, yellow, a menace to our economy. Mitt Romney knows it's not Wall Street you have to worry about, it's Sesame Street." Cut to Romney saying he's going to stop the subsidy to PBS. Back to the trailer voice and a shot of Big Bird snoozing in his nest: "Mitt Romney, taking on our enemies no matter where they nest."
The ad appears to aim for humor in its efforts to mock Romney's comments about PBS and Big Bird, and in that respect, it works. But apparently, Sesame Street isn't laughing. According to TV Guide, The Sesame Workshop, which produces Sesame Street released a statement today requesting that the Obama campaign remove the ad.
"Sesame Workshop is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and we do not endorse candidates or participate in political campaigns," it said. "We have approved no campaign ads, and as is our general practice, have requested that the ad be taken down."
So, it seems Sesame isn't interested in being involved in the campaign, despite one of their lead characters being referenced by Romney during the debate, and from what the video shows, in various campaign speeches. While it would be understandable if the series wanted to take a side, considering Romney's comments obviously don't favor PBS (at least as far as its funding goes), their refusal to take a side in such a direct way or have one of their characters be used to endorse a candidate is a credit to the PBS series, which has been providing educational entertainment to children for generations. They may not be able to stop Big Bird's name from being dragged through the campaign when the subject of PBS comes up, but they might be able to keep the familiar face and name from being used in campaign ads. So far, the video's still up, but it may be taken down soon.