Epic Fail: No Happytime for Sesame Street Litigation Efforts against R-Rated Movie.

On the Streisand Effect and great legal backfires of history: litigation makes for great PR.

Context: Sesame Street Lost a Legal Battle Against
Melissa McCarthy’s R-Rated Puppet Movie
Happytime Murders

A not-unexpected litigation, given the context but one thing strikes me as perhaps inevitable (and in three words): The Streisand Effect.

“The Streisand effect is a phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. It is an example of psychological reactance, wherein once people are aware that some information is being kept from them, their motivation to access and spread it is increased.”

That there are always opportunistic lawyers ready to set upon any easy target is a given within the American legal system. Whatever authentic offense may have been incurred and for which recompense may be sought will pale into insignificance in inverse proportion to the prominent and deleterious cultural association cemented between Sesame Street and this particular piece of cinematic toilet froth.

The company behind “Sesame Street” is suing the makers of Melissa McCarthy’s upcoming raunchy comedy, “The Happytime Murders,” for referencing the popular kids show in its marketing campaign.

But it’s not the film’s use of profane puppets that “Sesame Street” is upset about. It’s the tagline used in the film’s marketing campaign — “No Sesame. All Street.”

A trashy film which would have probably died the silent commercial death of flaccid inconsequence it was undoubtedly heir to is now likely receiving much more than that peripheral drive-by voyeurism and rapid fade into historical insignificance that it deserves. Perhaps the indignity being confronted here is not purely a reference to the Sesame Street franchise but in the cooption of muppet-like entities and a whole associated sub-culture of normatively wholesome educational content into a solidly B-grade, R-rated narrative such as this which is the real cause of distress; a moral outrage of sorts. It may even be that this particular litigatory hook on the “No Sesame. All Street.” catchcry is the only way in which any moral indignation could find leverage into this broader affront to such a historically successful and cultural institution of uncontroversial family-friendly media content.

A cynic might suggest that this whole sordid (legal) affair has been scripted to provide a significant windfall for the makers of this new movie; strategic commercial misdirection and linguistic or cultural displacement for pleasure and profit.

Litigation seems bound to expand publicity and interest; in turn ensuring that gross profit will multiply to very likely easily negotiate whatever financial penalties the law comes to tally in this instance. Strange movie. Stranger legal move.

Nothing to see here, move along…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.