November 30, 2012

The erosion of the Elmo brand.

The Daily News has a story about Charla Nash, the woman whose face and hands were ripped off by a chimpanzee back in 2009. She just settled her lawsuit against the estate of the chimp's owner. She's getting a mere $4 million from the estate, but wants $150 from the state. The state, her claim says, ought to have seized the dangerous animal, which according to the Daily News "could eat at the table, drink wine from a stemmed glass, use the toilet and bathe and dress itself."

Yes, horrible and bizarre, but what's that got to do with Elmo? I wouldn't have thought about Elmo if it hadn't been for this Elmo story in the sidebar next to the picture of the chimp:

"Hairstylist claims he had sex with Elmo puppeteer, too" links to "Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash was a 'gentleman,' says former Long Island lover amidst 'Sesame Street' star's underage sex scandal."
He said he saw Clash about 30 times over a two-year period and that the puppeteer wined him and dined him, and even once sent a car to Long Island to pick him up for a date.

“I feel someone who is a liar and a molester will just keep on the pattern. That’s not the type of guy I met... He was straightforward and if I wanted to have sex and have a hookup then that was my choice....”
That's an interesting example of someone trying to provide helpful evidence and not seeing the way the other side will use it. How to successfully woo a very young guy? Send a nice car over to fetch him. Let him sit at the dinner table and drink wine from a stemmed glass.

Suddenly, I remember Elmo's role in the Charla Nash story. Nash had come over to help the owner, Sandy Herold, get the 200-pound animal into the house, and here's how The Daily News describes it:
Herold has said Travis attacked because he was being protective of her and didn't recognize Nash, who had recently changed her hairstyle, was driving a different car and waved a red Elmo doll at him.
Oddly, the long Wikipedia article on Travis the chimp doesn't mention Elmo.  In fact, the Elmo detail is missing from old articles where I would expect to see it. (For example, this Time piece focusing on the owner's explanation: "Nash arrived in an unfamiliar car and emerged with her hair done in a radically different style from what Travis was familiar with. Herold speculates that perhaps the chimp didn’t recognize Nash and viewed her as a threat.") Maybe PBS got the bad Elmo publicity scrubbed from various websites. The Elmo mention I found was in The Daily News, the news site that put the new Elmo story in the sidebar right next to the picture of the chimp that was crazed (perhaps) by Elmo.

But Elmo himself did nothing wrong. He's only a puppet/doll. A brand.


slumber_j said...

If you like your face and genitals enough to want to keep them, then you really, really don't want to get a pet chimp. Here's another cautionary tale for any doubters out there:

Erika said...

I'm sorry Professor, I know you want this post and the comments to be about a juxtaposition between this story and Kevin Clash/Elmo the brand, but I'm stuck on KILLER CHIMP. I don't care about Kevin Clash.

I was not previously aware of this story. I will never understand people who fail to grasp the concept of animal.

Nash had gone to Herold's home on the day of the attack to help lure Herold's 200-pound chimpanzee, Travis, back inside.

So she willingly placed herself in the company of a 200 pound animal that had a previous history of hurting human beings. I'm sorry that she was so horrifically injured, but WTF was she doing hanging around someone who had a very dangerous animal as a pet?

Lem said...

Nash Clash Succotash.

Shawn Levasseur said...

Elmo may be a brand, but Kevin Clash has been getting so much publicity for being the man behind Elmo in recent years, that the brand is damaged, even if only temporary.

Certainly the "Tickle-Me-Elmo" dolls suddenly seem like a bad idea this Christmas.

Noz pkr said...

Monkey see....monkey do.

William said...

I do not know the cause of this chimp's rage, but it is wrong and libellous to suggest that he had been sexually molested by Elmo.

edutcher said...

The cuteness of the name, Elmo, is about to go the way of the name,

Or Adolf.

TMink said...

It is not the stranger in a black trenchcoat who is the dangerous abuser. Those are easy to spot and easier to deal with after the abuse.

It is the seductive abusers who cause the worst problems. They doom their victims to confusion and sexual/relational intimacy problems. Those of that ilk are the most damaging according to clinical wisdom and research.

How old was the guy who was talking about being wined and dined? Just because someone is slick does not mean they aren't up to no good.


deborah said...

I'd never heard the Elmo part of the story, but it sounds likely that waving it, with it's face showing might have looked menacing to the chimp. And the color red may have increased the perception of the threat, or have been the main trigger.

Amartel said...

Interesting how the Kevin Clash debacle is not redounding to PBS. After all, it's not like it's a large organization that was highly motivated to look the other way in order to maintain the status quo. Oh, wait, that's the Catholic Church.
Oh, wait, that's Penn State.
Oh, wait, that's PBS.

Interesting that the Long Island hairdresser could not figure out that "the pattern" is that liars lie and molesters molest. "But, gee, he didn't look like a priest. And he sent a car ..."

The presumptions and perils of groupthink.

Quick, scrub the Elmo references, someone might stumble over the truth.

BarrySanders20 said...

Elmo (really, the voice) makes me go ape too.

That's really the only funny thing about this story.

The chimp went fucking ape.

mccullough said...

Elmo made me do it is going to be the new defense.

That little red muppet is evil!

Crunchy Frog said...

And the color red may have increased the perception of the threat, or have been the main trigger.

AFAIK, chimps are colorblind.

Crunchy Frog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deborah said...

Point taken, CF.