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A cookie is an ALL the time food! ALL THE TIME, I say!
May 18, 2005
by Megan Tynan

Thirty five years from now when Cookie Monster is writing his tell-all expose, Am I the Monster or Are You?, about his years as an actor on Sesame Street, I hope the PBS executives won't feign shock when he exposes them for the oppressive and abusive masters they are.

Being a monster in a barely monster-human integrated environment is difficult enough without having to live every day with the abuse heaped on him. While the human residents of Sesame Street protest that they love everyone "Just as they are!", they are covertly pursuing an agenda of modifying the monsters on Sesame Street to fit their own anthropomorphic requirements.

Cookie Monster is their latest victim. We have all been witnesses to his human-induced issues with food, most prominently the cookie, as PBS has paraded them, Truman Show-style, across our television screens. Please note that he is a "Cookie Monster" -- a monster of the cookie-devouring variety, much as an anteater is an animal of the ant-eating variety -- and not "Cookie the Monster" -- a monster coincidentally named "Cookie." It is the nature of the Cookie Monster to eat cookies and to try to turn one from that path is as unnatural and unkind as forcing a lion to adopt a vegetarian diet.

But the humans persist in attempting to turn Cookie Monster from his cookie eating ways. Since my own childhood, I have watched this unhappy monster try to please his "friends" (though why not simply name them "abusers" and acknowledge their true nature?) by controlling his instinctual need for cookies. I have seen him innocently walking past a television camera, only to come across a plate of cookies that just "happen" to have been left out. I have watched him run a gamut of emotions from happiness to desire to guilt to shame. Each encounter with a plate of cookies ends in the same way -- Cookie Monster yields to the temptation of the "accidentally" abandoned cookies, and in a flurry of cookies and furry monster, the cookies disappear -- "eaten." Then, wrapped in a maelstrom of emotion and crumbs, Cookie Monster walks on.

Mark this though: I have never seen that sweet monster eat a cookie. Anyone who tells you they have, lies.

I have, as you have, seen the cookies broken, seen them shoveled into that starving monster's mouth, and heard him declare his satisfaction with his treat. However, though the producers of Sesame Street hope to lure their prepubescent viewers to the conclusion that Cookie Monster has eaten every cookie, an adult viewer is easily able to discern the symptoms of a bulemic monster. I have seen those cookies come right back out again, something our poor friend tries to hide in the rush of his cookie orgy, but the evidence of the slow-mo button cannot be denied. So deep is Cookie Monster's need to please his human oppressors, even when he is unable to resist the temptation of the chocolate chip treat, he will vomit it back up every time. Cookie Monster is the epitome of binge and purge.

For thirty six years, PBS has laughingly showcased Cookie Monster's struggles with food, jeeringly documenting his eating disorder for all the world to see, but now, bored with their torture, they have upped the ante. First they drive him to bulemia, then they accuse him of inspiring obesity in children. As a part of their new Healthy Eating campaign, they are giving Cookie Monster a new song to sing, "A Cookie is a Sometime Food." "We are not putting him on a diet!" they sweetly protest. "We're teaching him moderation!" Why do they think it any more logical for a child to emulate the dietary practices of a monster than of a tiger, a giraffe, or a mastodon? Answer: the cruelty of twisting Cookie Monster's psyche is far more entertaining to them than forcing Gordon to eat carrot sticks.

In 1971, we read the heartbreaking expose of There's a Monster at the End of This Book, wherein Grover recounts his fear of acknowledging his own true nature -- that of a monster. In spite of his human "friends'" efforts to force him into human patterns of behavior, Grover was ultimately able to overcome his fear and proudly proclaim "I am the monster at the end of this book!" See the result of that protest so many years ago -- today Grover is known throughout Sesame Street as "Super Grover!" Can Cookie Monster's story have as empowering an ending? Brainwashed as he is by his human abusers, it seems unlikely.

C is for Cookie, and that's good enough for us. Why can't that be good enough for you, PBS?

Megan Tynan is an ardent monster advocate and is the author at the end of this article.

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