I submit for your perusal three videos to compare.
The first is the debut intro to the television show “Sesame Street” (which aired in in late 1969):
The second is the intro as seen in the seventies:
Here is today’s intro:
Watch them for yourselves. No, go on. I’ll wait.
No really, go ahead.
OK, done? Now here are my observations.
The first two intros looked like actual kids actually playing. The third is clearly a set of actors.
The first two intros show children playing “dangerously” (by today’s mainstream standards) while appearing relatively unsupervised/free range. The children’s play includes climbing farm equipment, swinging and hanging upside down from monkey bars, unhelmeted trike riding (no-hands even), roller skating and running as a group, running some more, chasing farm animals, feeding animals at the zoo, rock climbing and tree climbing, more running (lots of running), jumping from some agri-industrial platform, siblings helping small children go down slides or run across concrete, two children riding a horse bareback (and unhelmetted), hanging clothes in a backyard, and even a little girl crying (which is awesome because hey, little kids cry and it’s okay!). There’s even a toddler holding what looks like a green glass beer bottle, which gave me a giggle (although I’m sure it wasn’t beer).
In the first two intros the kids are a variety of ages, races, thin-to-chubby, and wear a variety of real-life dress – or undress. The two horse-riders are shirtless and the girl helped on the slide is wearing a little dress so short you can see her bloomers.
In the first two intros, the kids’ activities are shown in relatively long shots; that is the camera follows the children in their authentic play.
The third intro shows by comparison almost child non-activity overlayed by frenetic cartoon/puppet character action. These (monolithically well-dressed, well-groomed, spotless and slender) kids are seen: coloring decidedly-grownup-and-therefore-phony-versions-of-“childish” art while sitting/laying on the concrete, riding in cars, playing stationary “pattycake”, blowing bubbles while standing in place, a single child riding a bike (helmetted), a single child jogging slowly, and finally two children dancing in place on some steps (stop me before I pee my pants with excitement). In contrast the cartoon/puppet characters fly, play, and overwhelm the screen with laughter and whimsy and *lots* of quick cuts to keep our attention span. (The puppets get to mail letters in a public mail box but apparently actual children do not).
One thing to the credit of the third intro: at least it includes a child using a wheelchair (altho’ I know the original Sesame Street was relatively inclusive of people with disabilities).
Given we are at the crime rate of 1970 according to Department of Justice statistics (crime rates against children are in decline), the possible reasons today’s version is so sanitized with over-the-top cartoon vacuity and “safe” and inauthentic childplay seem quite troubling.
H/t to Daniel Bigler for tweeting these videos.