Just finished watching the 1985 Sesame Street movie Follow That Bird with my kids, and I was amazed at the Children’s Television Workshop’s horrible depiction of the Midwest. Sesame Street, of course, is based on a New York City neighborhood, with a decidedly “urban” look and feel, but random slams against the Midwest were the last thing I expected when sitting down for a nice Friday night movie with the kids. At the beginning of the movie, Big Bird is “adopted” by a family of dodo birds living in “Ocean View, Illinois,” which appears to be somewhere near Peoria.
A quick rundown of the Dodos and their town:
- The Dodos are idiots (as in “dumb as a…”). They fail to recognize Big Bird, even asking Bird if he has seen a large yellow bird on his plane.
- They live in “Ocean View,” with no ocean within 1,000 miles.
- The Dodos live in a bland suburb, with every house identical (except for theirs – it’s identical to the others, but hoisted up on a pole like a giant birdhouse).
- The Dodo kids (“Donnie” and “Marie”) have no imagination – literally. When Bird says, “Let’s pretend I’m Snow White,” Donnie replies, “But you’re bright yellow.”
- The Dodos are kinda racist. When Bird gets a postcard from Snuggy, they “tisk tisk” his choice of a non-bird best friend.
In other words, Dodos complete the list of Midwestern stereotypes: dull, small-minded, uncreative. Anyone with talent or tolerance has long ago flown the coop, so to speak.
Eh, who cares? It’s an awesome movie. Go watch it immediately. Here’s a small mushroom-flavored taste.