Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Meek and the Beautiful

The monsters on Sesame Street are such a staple to the show that their association with scariness has long since been forgotten.  In the first season, the monsters were treated much like any Muppet monster before them: large, carnivorous, and threatening.  People would run in fear, knowing that monsters were bad news.  But there were two pioneers who formed an unlikely pairing, allowing monster-human relationships to be widely accepted on the Street.

Representing the monsters was a figure known as the "Beautiful Day Monster."  Like most early Muppets, there was no official name for this character, so he was named after his first first appearance (like the Luncheon Counter Monster or the Coffee Beak Monster, who later became the Cookie Monster).  The Beautiful Day Monster first appeared in a sketch on The Ed Sullivan Show in which he attempts to ruin a little girl's day.

Monsters are just mean.

However, the girl remains unfazed, recognizing the inherent beauty in the creature.  No matter what he does, he cannot change the fact that it is indeed a beautiful day.  This little girl laid the groundwork in changing the course of this evil beast's life.

The Beautiful Day Monster eventually got a recurring gig on Sesame Street where he often appeared with others of his kind.  He threw himself into the educational nature of the show, although he still came off as a little frightening.

This is the sound "B" makes: "BAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!

He would also frequently drop in on his neighbors Bert and Ernie, making their lives very difficult, despite his best intentions.

It seemed as if monsters were going to have a hard time fitting in on Sesame Street.  But then, along came a man.  He was not a powerful man or a big man.  He was a man who was easily pushed around by society, often quite literally.

Here, he is reluctantly demonstrating the concept of "between."

This man's name was Tony.  Humans and monsters alike would walk all over him.  He was voiced by Henson, who gave him the smallest, weakest voice he could muster.  There was nothing Tony could do but avoid confrontation at all costs.

On top of all of his problems, he was a monster magnet.  It was almost as if he was cursed to walk the earth, attracting the the most vile and loathsome creatures in the vicinity.  Someone had it out for him.

Even in the picture books, he was not safe.

But, through some twist of fate, our two Sesame Street outcasts found each other.  A monster that all humans hated and a human that all monsters abused came together, seeking solace in each other's arms.  Although many did not approve of their love, they had finally found comfort in their lives.

The Beautiful Day Monster and Tony's courtship was very progressive.  Tony referred to the Monster with feminine names such as "Lulu" and "Windy," perhaps to make their relationship more "politically correct."  But the flimsy disguises did not fool the rest of the neighborhood.  The world was just not ready for a monster and human romance.  The two started appearing less and less and both were gone by the mid-70's.

At least Tony stuck around long enough to be included in the Sesame Street Character Style Guide.

Although they are gone, their accomplishments shall not be forgotten.  Both of them struggled to seek approval from their opposite worlds, and both of them stood up for what they believed in.  They found love and were not ashamed of it, breaking new ground for Muppets everywhere.

Perhaps they moved to the more liberal Avenue Q.

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