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February 22, 2013

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2005 Doesn’t Seem Like That Long Ago…

By Jason Milligan

Jason Milligan is the Creative Director of Sesame Workshop’s Innovation Lab.

“Kids won’t know what that is!”

It wasn’t the first time I heard Sesame Workshop Curriculum Specialist Sue Scheiner say that, but this time it threw me a bit. We were reviewing Elmo’s World episodes to include in Season 2 of Kinect Sesame Street TV. Sue was referring to a camera. The camera was an old fashioned black box with a huge flashbulb attached. And one old fashioned camera in Mr. Noodle’s hands wouldn’t have mattered so much if any of the cameras in the piece looked and worked like current cameras do. But they didn’t. They were clunky film cameras and video cameras with tapes. There was a scene in which a kid takes film to a store to have it “developed.”

Not one person in the entire episode took a picture with a phone, or was able to immediately show Elmo his image on the back. The way today’s kids experience digital photography (often on smart phones) is completely, utterly, totally different than it was only a few years ago, apparently when this episode of Elmo’s World was made in 2005. Seriously. I checked the air date. It freaked me out a little. The same way it freaked me out when my niece pointed to a phone booth in a video and asked my sister what it was. Or when I explained to my kids how television used to show programs at certain times of day and you couldn’t pause or rewind or even decide which show you wanted to watch right now. Sue is right. Kids don’t know what those things are. Some Sesame content will always be relevant. Ernie will always be able to sing about the joys of bathing with his Duckie. C will always be for Cookie. But not this.

We couldn’t use Elmo’s World: Cameras. It was simply out of date.

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