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Old 07-13-2002, 07:32 PM   #1
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sesame streeet to get new hiv + character

An HIV-positive Muppet is moving into Sesame Street.
The character, who will be a five-year-old female, will be unveiled this September on the South African version of the show, called Takalani Sesame. The Muppet is still being designed and doesn't yet have a name or a color. She will interact with the show's other Muppets, including Elmo, in an attempt to overcome the myths that surround HIV and AIDS in a country where more than 10 percent of the population is infected.

The new addition to the Muppet roster was announced this week at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona by Sesame Street Workshop's vice president and senior adviser, Joel Schneider.

"This character will be fully a part of the community," Schneider tells Reuters. "She will have high self-esteem. Women are often stigmatized about HIV and we are providing a good role model as to how to deal with one's situation and how to interact with the community."

Although scripts are still being hammered out, officials at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which airs the program, have a general idea of how the character will behave.

"It will have, in a childlike manner, open discussions about sexuality, HIV and AIDS, and death and dying," the broadcaster's Yvonne Kgame tells the Associated Press. "The reality is that children as young as they are affected very closely by HIV/AIDS. They experience death and dying of people very close to them."

South Africa has the world's largest population infected by HIV, with more than 4.7 million people living with the virus.

The HIV-educational outreach was initiated by Sesame Street in cooperation with South Africa's Department of Education, the South African Broadcasting Corporation and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

"Sesame Street works with all of its partners to develop content specific to that country and that's what we do broadcasters all over the world," says Sesame Street Workshop spokeswoman Beatrice Chow.

And for those parents worried that the children's show may be crossing the line into sex ed, Schneider says the subject matter would be handled like all serious topics with appropriate delicacy.

"Not every show will deal explicitly with HIV/AIDS," he tells Reuters. "We want to show that here is an HIV-positive member of our community who you can touch and interact with. We will be very careful to fashion our messages so they are appropriate to the age group. What do I do when I cut my finger? What do I do when you cut your finger? That sort of thing."

The show is no stranger to difficult themes, having taken on school-bullying, death and even the September 11 tragedy.

Sesame Street, which is broadcast in 70 countries, has no immediate plans to debut the character for American viewers. But it's possible she could turn up on other international editions of the show where AIDS education is needed.





good for them.
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Old 07-13-2002, 07:37 PM   #2
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Great, now Jerry Falwell can claim she has AIDS because she is a lesbian
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Old 07-13-2002, 09:10 PM   #3
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I couldn't even bring myself to make this DoucheTastic worthy.

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Old 07-13-2002, 09:18 PM   #4
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Okay, I guess that is good!
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Old 07-15-2002, 01:13 AM   #5
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i'm interested in how they plan to make a preschool show talk about sexuality and hiv/aids.....i mean....those are more adult things.........i don't think they'll understand too much........

although it does sound like a good idea for south africa!!
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Old 07-15-2002, 11:23 AM   #6
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The question is the ultimate fate of this Muppet.

If they are going to go down this road, it seems possible that this new Muppet character will get terribly ill and eventually pass away.

Should that happen? Certainly, when the actor who played Mr. Hooper (in the U.S. version of the show) passed away, they decided that his character had also passed away, and that gave them a chance to tackle the difficult subject of death. But that's a FAR cry from introducing a character with the expressed purpose of having him die.

And if they don't follow this to conclusion, are they really dealing with the disease in a responsible manner?
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Old 07-15-2002, 01:18 PM   #7
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Mmmh, I think it is a good idea that they maybe 'show' that AIDS is not a disease that you can get when just talking with someone or being friend with that person, but maybe they........*hmpf*.......it really seems to be not that all day kid-topic and I'm pretty sure that when the puppet will die - or they will give her medicine and just give her a bit more time - there'll be a lot of sad kids around..... I don't know what to think about this all......
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Old 07-15-2002, 02:06 PM   #8
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how dumb ....its a lil' pre-school kids show for god's sake!!!!
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Old 07-15-2002, 02:33 PM   #9
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I think something that's important to remember is that it's a show being broadcast in South Africa - a country where in some parts of the country over 10% of the population have AIDS or are HIV+.

It's not something which doesn't affect children - hundreds of thousands of children are affected, often because the illness is passed on to them by their parents. AIDS/HIV isn't the remote, unfamiliar issue it is in some countries - it affects the lives of many children in South Africa, either because they themselves have the illness or they have friends or family members who do.

In that situation, it's a positive thing that the issue is dealt with responsibly in a way which will educate people. Lack of education about the subject not only leads to unnecessary fear of those who have AIDS/HIV (ie ideas that you can catch HIV from holding hands with someone, or from using the same bathroom as someone with the illness), but can also put people in danger if they are unaware of how to protect themselves from the illness. Hopefully this show will educate children and mean that children who have the illness don't suffer because of the mistrust or fear of their peers, and reduce the risk of children being affected by the illness because they don't know how to protect themselves.

On the subject of whether they're just introducing a character to die - if an individual is able to get good medical care, they can live for many years even after contracting HIV.
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Old 07-15-2002, 02:46 PM   #10
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I completely agree with FizzingWhizzbees. I see no reason that sexuality even has to be brought on the show up in regards to this. I would question it if the character were being introduced on the US show, but in Africa, I think it's a very pertinent topic.
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Old 07-15-2002, 02:54 PM   #11
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fizzing pretty much summed up my thots.
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:18 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by FizzingWhizzbees
On the subject of whether they're just introducing a character to die - if an individual is able to get good medical care, they can live for many years even after contracting HIV.
True, but that only delays the inevitable: the show's producers will eventually have to confront the character's mortality. Otherwise, they will be rightfully accused of glossing over the reality of the disease.

It's one thing to have a Sesame Street Muppet be a toddler for twenty years. It's one thing to have a Muppet live with a physical disability - be it blindness or relegation to a wheelchair. But it's another thing entirely to have a Muppet live with a LETHAL virus for twenty years.
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Old 07-15-2002, 03:25 PM   #13
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Not everywhere is lucky enough to be in the idyllically naive United States. South Africa has a 44%+ HIV infection rate in the population, not to mention countless numbers of children in that rate. It's meant to express tolerance, and death by HIV is very much a reality for South African youth, whether it is fair or not. At least those children with HIV shall perhaps take comfort in their short years of life with a friendly character to identify with.

I'm not even going to discuss sexuality. Again, this is unimportant. Most HIV infections are passed on through heterosexual activity outside of the U.S., and this is true for South Africa as well. Most children are born with the disease in this nation. Drugs are not readily available to most people in Africa, so death is a relatively quick inevitability.

Perhaps think about this before we put on our judgmental, Puritanical American colored lenses.

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Old 07-15-2002, 04:35 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by melon
I'm not even going to discuss sexuality. Again, this is unimportant.
Just remember it wasn't the naive, judgemental, Puritanical Americans who mentioned it.

Quote:
"It will have, in a childlike manner, open discussions about sexuality..." the broadcaster's Yvonne Kgame tells the Associated Press.
I believe Yvonne is South African.


Anyway...I think it's a smart addition to the show. It certainly seems that HIV would be a very relevant topic to kids there.

Anybody remember Linda, the deaf lady on Sesame Street here in the States? She was the only deaf person I knew when I was a kid, so I'm glad she was on the show.
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Old 07-15-2002, 04:58 PM   #15
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I wonder if the show will have a muppet Bono come visit them
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