The children’s series ‘Sesame Street’ is at the center of controversy again, this time over an alleged Grover F-bomb some claim they heard.
First, it was the question of Laurel or Yanni. Now, it’s a question of an alleged Grover F-bomb on Sesame Street.
Grover, the blue monster, is one of the PBS show’s longest-running Muppet characters. But a viral video claims to depict the lovable character actually saying the dreaded F-word.
How could such a thing happen?
According to the man who voices the character, the legendary Frank Oz, it didn’t.
It didn’t happen at all.
As soon as I heard about the controversy, the first thing I thought was, “Who in their right mind would think that could possibly happen?”
A co-worker of mine sent me the clip that’s sparking the biggest debate about the series since the question of whether fellow Muppets Bert and Ernie are really gay lovers.
The video quickly went viral.
Cheddar D.C. Bureau Chief J.D. Durkin posted the clip on Twitter with the text, “Seriously did Grover just drop the F-bomb?” burned into the video.
As People tells it, Grover is interacting with another Muppet character — I’ve never seen this one before, but then it’s obviously been a long time since I’ve watched the show. At the suggestion that they “move the camera,” Grover says one of two things.
It’s either “That sounds like an excellent idea!” or “That’s a f—in’ excellent idea!”
Knowing this is a children’s program, I was sure I knew which statement was actually spoken aloud. So I watched the video and heard exactly that: “That sounds like an excellent idea.”
I listed a couple of times and heard only that.
But then I actually looked at the alternate version…and listened to the clip as I stared at the F-bomb version. And that time, I heard that version.
Laurel or Yanni?
When the Laurel/Yanni video made its social media splash, I heard “Laurel.” I only heard “Laurel.” I couldn’t understand how anyone could hear anything else because “Laurel” seemed so crystal clear.
But this time, when I looked at the text of what some thought Grover said as the clip played, I heard that alternate version. At least, I heard how it could have been interpreted as that.
Most of us who work in broadcasting know that the ear is the worst way to receive information. If we don’t hear it right the first time, what we think we hear is the only information we have.
When I listened to the clip again before writing this post, I played it five times and hear, “That sounds like an excellent idea!” every single time. It was clear. There was no room for anything else.
Then, as I’d done before, I listened to the clip while staring at the alternate text. That time, I didn’t hear the F-bomb. I listened again: No F-bomb. It was another couple of playings before I heard that alternate interpretation. But I did hear it.
This is one of those cases, I’m afraid, in which common sense has to win out.
The fact that it’s a children’s show and that Grover is performed by a man who’s been voicing the character for nearly half a century should be clues that there’d be no effort to slip something so profane into people’s living rooms.
It’s fun for people to look for controversy where it shouldn’t exist. No controversy should exist in a show like Sesame Street.
What you think you heard isn’t necessarily what was actually said.
The ears can fool you, after all.
In this case, it appears the ears have fooled a lot of people.