Sesame Street's Westin: 'Big Bird Lives on'
With the first presidential debate complete, there’s only one thing on everyone’s mind: what is going to happen to Big Bird? The giant yellow-feathered bird from Sesame Street was brought up for one second during the debates, yet trended nationwide on Twitter, generated 17,000 tweets per minute and had multiple parody accounts set up in the bird’s name.
The comment which sparked it all was when Governor Mitt Romney spoke about stopping the subsidy to the Public Broadcasting Service: “I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird. Actually like you, too. [to moderator Jim Lehrer] But I’m not going to keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.”
Big Bird doesn’t have to worry, however, as PBS gives “very, very little funding” to Sesame Street, said Sherrie Westin, Sesame Street’s executive vice president, in an interview with CNN last week. Corporate sponsorships, product sales and donations make up most of the show’s funding, according to Westin, who is a former head of the Georgetown Business Association.
“Quite frankly, you can debate whether or not there should be funding of public broadcasting," Westin told CNN. "But when they always try to tout out Big Bird, and say we’re going to kill Big Bird -- that is actually misleading, because Sesame Street will be here. Big Bird lives on.”
Despite the reassurance, Big Bird is still conquering social media. It was the fourth mentioned term on Facebook last night, after “Obama,” “Romney” and “debate.” Several Big Bird parody Twitters have popped up, including @BigBirdRomney and @BIGBIRD; another account, @FiredBigBird, has been suspended.
@BigBirdRomney has tweeted “If you don’t vote Obama, Mitt Romney is going to be eating me by the end of November. Show your support. #BigBird2012” and “There was one clear loser in the debates: me.” Among his tweets, @BigBirdRomney has also tweeted several joke pictures, featuring fellow Sesame Street mates, including Grover and Bert and Ernie.
“You’re just reminded of what a connection ‘Sesame Street’ has, and what a place Big Bird and those characters have in people’s hearts,” Westin told Politico Oct. 4, the day after the debate. “The great thing is, that’s on both sides of the aisle.”