Have We Been Gaslighting Elmo?

Zoe and Elmo

By Chuck Roy, Publisher

Last week our Associated Press subscription lit up with yet another viral moment. It was about one of our favorite TV characters – Sesame Street’s Elmo. And it seems that Elmo’s unhinged rant about a pet rock resonates with many exasperated citizens and that many Americans said that they could relate to Elmo’s sense of frustration.

The Sesame Street characters Zoe, left, and Elmo debate the reality of a pet rock captured a moment when Elmo wants the remaining oatmeal raisin cookie, which is on a counter. Next to the cookie is a rock.

But as Elmo reaches for it, his furry red hand is stopped by an orange one that belongs to Zoe, another Sesame Street character, who is concerned for the rock, a pet named Rocco.

“No, no, no – wait, Elmo,” Zoe says. “Rocco says that he wants the oatmeal raisin cookie.”

And it is at this point that Elmo – a children’s character usually associated with innocence, lighthearted fun and playfulness – reaches his breaking point.

“Rocco?” Elmo says, sounding astonished. “Rocco’s a rock, Zoe! Rocco won’t know the difference!”

And when Zoe insists that Rocco will, indeed, know the difference, Elmo goes from incredulous to angry.

“How?” Elmo retorts. “How is Rocco going to eat that cookie, Zoe? Tell Elmo. Rocco doesn’t even have a mouth. Rocco’s just a rock! Rocco’s not alive!”

This episode of Sesame Street circulated widely across social media this week, garnering more than eight million views and thousands of responses from people who resoundingly expressed that they could relate with an unhinged Elmo’s sense of exasperation.

There is also a short clip in the attached Keyhole where Zoe says she was late to a party because Rocco had “to go to the potty,” and Elmo, pausing for a beat, responds with a flat, “What?” Another clip shows Elmo saying hello to a real hamster, only to be interrupted by Zoe, who directs him to also say hi to Rocco.

Was it that Elmo was trying to be inclusive of Zoe and “her eccentricities.” Or has Elmo been gaslit all these years?

You can just tell that every little inch Elmo gives, Zoe takes a mile.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Just recall the amount of times people try to convince you of something that you know isn’t true, no matter how many times you point out the obvious. Folks, someone saying something a thousand times does not make it the truth. It just makes others look foolish and, simultaneously, exasperating to us. “The world is flat,” “I am not a crook,” and “I’m from the Government and I am here to help you,” immediately come to my mind. What about you?