Is Sesame Street's New Partnership with PNC Bank Teaching Kids to Be Materialists?

The show has a new corporate backer, PNC Bank. Is Sesame Street teaching kids Wall Street values?

Remember last year's controversy over Sesame Street buckling under the pressure of outraged parents and pulling Katy Perry's cleavage-revealing guest appearance? Thanks to their new corporate sponsors, PNC Bank and its "Grow Up Great" campaign, Sesame Street's producers might be getting another slew of complaint emails from parents and consumer advocates.

No, PNC execs aren't going to film a version of "Hot and Cold" in a yellow bustier. According to PSFK, PNC was one of the banks that accepted "$5 billion of taxpayer money and used some of those funds to carry out an acquisition during the recession." That sounds pretty shady, but PNC's not talking bank bailouts in their "Grow Up Great" campaign. Instead, they're teaching kids the much needed skill of financial literacy—something PNC's execs could probably use since they needed bailing out in the first place.

Overall, the campaign seems innocent, but David Sirota notes over at Salon that the lessons are teaching some pretty materialistic ideas.

First, children see Elmo trying to figure out where to spend his money. He ultimately sets his sights not on something practical or experiential, but on a colorful flashing orb. This "Stupendous Ball" is a perfect simulacrum of the kind of flashy-but-useless Sharper Image-esque gadget that today tricks consumers into so many impulse purchases—and yet, it is held up as a perfectly rational thing for Elmo to blow his cash on. Ultimately, Elmo gets a manual labor job from an ice cream man (who apparently doesn't care about child labor laws) in order to save up—and though he settles for "Fantastic Ball" rather than the more expensive "Stupendous Ball," the goal is the same: buying useless crap.


I think Sirota is being too sensitive here. Kids do need to learn that if you want something, you need to save for it—and what would he have Elmo buy? Most preschoolers aren't going to sympathize with a character who socks away money for retirement in a 401(k).

In fact, perhaps Sesame Street should be commended for avoiding an obvious and lucrative product placement opportunity. How much would McDonald's or Mattel have paid to have Elmo save up for one of their products rather than an unbranded "Fantastic Ball"?

via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

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Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

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Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

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