In 1990, Richard Darman, director of the US Office of Management and Budget, described the Cookie Monster as the “quintessential consumer”, and in the past he has been forced to adjust his “more is more” approach to snacking as part of a campaign to curb childhood obesity. But now the Sesame Street character has suffered serious damage to his reputation: as the Mail Online reports, he is being used as a neo-Nazi recruiting tool.
The “how” is clear from recent German news reports: at the end of March a known far-right activist, 31-year-old Steffen Lange, was arrested for walking into a Brandenburg school dressed as the Cookie Monster and distributing neo-Nazi leaflets to children. Police subsequently searched his home and that of an accomplice, and found more Cookie Monster-themed propaganda.
The “why” is much less obvious. The Cookie Monster is not known to hold far-right views. He possesses no Aryan traits (his fur may be blue, but his eyes are googly, and he lives in the friendly, multicultural environs of Sesamstrasse). It’s also unclear what use a bunch of Cookie Monster-loving schoolkids would be to the far-right movement. Among the propaganda referred to in the Mail article is an image of the Cookie Monster standing with Adolf Hitler, with the caption, “Who ate my biscuit?” Presumably the answer is meant to be “immigrants”, but this juxtaposition is poorly thought-through and has no logic at all. Setting aside the fact that Hitler and the Cookie Monster never met, I think we’ve all seen enough episodes of Sesame Street to know exactly who ate the cookie.
A police spokesman described the use of the Cookie Monster’s image as an attempt to make neo-Nazism seem “harmless and everyday and perhaps something a bit fun and a bit rebellious”. It’s more likely that the neo-Nazi in question just happened to have the costume lying around already.
There is no easier way to damage someone’s public reputation than by dressing up as him and being objectionable. Times Square in New York recently suffered a spate of people dressed as the Cookie Monster, Elmo and other characters harassing tourists, pandering for cash and assaulting children. Remember, kids: if he’s doing anything other than shouting and eating cookies, it’s probably not the real Cookie Monster. The Guardian