For years, I've know how vile PBS is.
My younger brother is a couple of years behind me in age, but decades in terms of manliness. I remember him watching PBS for entertainment, while I sat patiently with an armada of action figures that tasted like charred Chinese tar, waiting for “Wishbone” to begin. Just before “Wishbone,” and just before my brother’s PBS program ended, my dad came home (I promise, this isn't about bashing family, though without my childhood I wouldn't have any of the insane opinions I have now) and somehow, with telepathic rage powers, seemed to turn off the television just by slamming the front door. “Turn that filth off,” is what he said, without a sparkle of literary glamor. Then, he sat us down to have a session with us that outlasted “the sex talk” in terms of absurdity and irrationality. At the ripe age of nine or ten, I found out how bad society had it in for me: conspiracies, agendas, Satanism, leftism, the New Left’s pro-anti-family platform, all through the Public Broadcasting System.
One guess is that PBS didn't talk enough about Jesus riding bareback to bring about the end of the world.
And, in total honesty, that flippant statement isn't too far off from fact. At that time, the early nineteen-nineties, morality was a full blown topic, and everyone that brought it up talked as if they had more than President Clinton and his party. Everything they pushed to fund was corrupt, too. Public parks were a sign of civilization’s deep decay; public schools were a sign of the end times. Even new rumors were propped up speak for the deteriorating but young decade: James Hormel of Hormel Meats was named the first openly homosexual ambassador to Fiji, but since they hang you for that in Fiji, Mr. Hormel was named delegated to the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission. To entertain the politicians and delegates of the world, Hormel’s boyfriend danced for their perverse pleasure—the entire United Nations. Now, I wish I could say that my father told me that over supper, on the night he banished Sesame Street from our poorly insulated home, but I first heard that story—a lie that not even Google can offer any results for, no matter how willie nilly and sexual searches get—at a home school convention in “elementary school,” or rather, the self-paced work packets I doodled on after I was kicked out of a faith-based private school for stealing Tic-Tacs: the greatest moment of mixed failure and achievement in my life. During this conference, publicly funded programming was openly touted as Hell’s broadcasting network, which, at the heart of all this, just shows how terrified certain people in my country are. The speaker's point was, and I remember if clearly, that this deviant activity would only continue at the highest form of government because by the time I would become an adult, I, and the rest of my same-aged society, would be numb to homosexuality. We would accept it.
As I grow older, I become angrier at how scared these people made my parents; how they were filled with fear because exploitative politicians and those who ran conventions, who wanted not truth, but money, and worried parents are a deep well to drink from. The ubiquity of public broadcasting was an easy target. Not even Fred Rogers could get its funding above 1% of the federal budget, and as it stands, PBS will even cut short an episode of Bob Ross, mid fluffy cloud painting, to beg its viewers for money. My age group embraced PBS like no other. We enjoyed everything produced in the late seventies to the new episodes of Sesame Street, where Count von Count finally explained polynomial long division. And my parents were told that Sesame Street would do me in: it would make me safe to the ideas of others, when my parents, like so many others, were already dedicated to keeping me away from ideas and theories: things I would have to choose to believe in, study, and reflect upon—things that they were told were the making of bad people. Sesame Street taught that no matter how nice, which is certainly what every parent wants of their children, or selfish you are, which, ironically, is what children are thought when their parents think like that, there’s always going to be people different from you, good or bad, gay or Asian, That reality, that message, is too much for people who want the world to appear small: that everything you need to know or worth knowing can fit on an index card.
If the world is small and full of easy solutions, then anything complicated is wrong.
How did this happen, though? Well, other than being people who are built to believe in bullshit, it’s nothing but neoconservatives. Now, I’m normally not one who points fingers at a group, because most of the time unpacking something like this leads to an overlapping Vinn Diagram of devilishness, and I’m not talking about the pro-Bush neo-cons, either: the bigots with huge credit card debt, who don’t have a problem with wars but are unsettled at the idea of middle-of-the-road healthcare reform penned by both Democrats and Republicans. It’s the people who tell them to look under rocks to find communists, and Sesame Street’s pro-society message provided the new neoconservatives with all the ammunition they needed. New neos, I know that’s a silly phrase, but in the nineteen-thirties and nineteen-forties, the a dedication to putting down Stalin was what defined the neoconservatives, they even supported civil rights, which is odd concerning the things they champion today, mainly regressive, anti-social ideas. Marxism is at the heart of neoconservatism, even if they would never admit it, or even know about it. After the fall of the Berlin wall, not even genocide in Africa interested the neoconservatives, only White government in South Africa. Picking up where Jeane Kirkpatrick’s writings and Ronald Reagan’s presidency left off, the new neoconservatives actively began supporting fascism and opposing only socialism. They found socialism by living through their own brand of homebrewed morality, and dedicating themselves to spreading it on a national scale. Sounds sinister, right? Sounds like PBS, to them, anyway.
The individuals who Mitt Romney has borrowed the disdain for publicly funded television are quite real, it’s not just Mitt Romney making up promises on the televised campaign trail, although the Internet memes and doleful Obama administration advertisements have been worth it. Willard Romney has heard the self-victimization of someone’s hate speech that they thought was love—the same people whose only regret politically is not supporting Shiite warlords after Desert Storm, and who spend millions on Intelligent Design self-paced home school packets only because they receive more millions to make them. Those are the people who hate public broadcasting, and not because it’s not as cheesy as Sunday school, or that it teaches goodness and tolerance, or kicks ass for free. It’s because Sesame Street doesn’t teach hate: hate speech called love. Even though to the left of Sesame Street is the street corner where Jesus Christ, reeking like a homeless Palestinian, rants about humility and sides with the lowest of society’s low, and doesn’t judge you when you drive by and lock your doors when you pass by, keeping the world as small as possible.