Killjames

Melissa Bowman, a Florida mother who claimed in 2008 that Elmo was threatening to kill her son.

Beat up Elmo toy

Beat up Elmo toy

"Beat up Elmo."

Ernest and Oscar love playing games

Ernest and Oscar love playing games

Ernest is "sick" from his brother's antics.

Cookie Monster t-shirt

In 1998, a Super Kmart in Lakewood, Colorado, shelved some Cookie Monster T-shirts because store personnel thought the audio device attached to the shirt was inappropriate. While Cookie Monster is supposed to say "Time to truck" (because he's depicted as a dump truck driver), the last word reportedly sounded as if it started with the letter "F".[1]

Potty Time with Elmo

In January 2006, Potty Time with Elmo, a book with sound buttons, was said by a woman in Ellensburg, Washington, to say, "Uh oh, who wants to die?" The button was to say, "Uh oh, who has to go?", but some of the book sound files compressed improperly. According to NBC, the books could be returned to the store of purchase, or replaced for free if consumers called (800) 595-8484.[2] The book was reissued in 2008, replacing the controversial audio. (YouTube)

Sing with Elmo's Greatest Hits

In 2007, the toy Sing with Elmo's Greatest Hits was reported to be encouraging kids to "beat up Elmo" and "rip your fur out". Fisher-Price provided copy to a local news report that identified the lyrics as "be like Elmo", and explained that the audio became distorted during production.[3]

Elmo Knows Your Name

In February 2008, after replacing the battery of an Elmo Knows Your Name stuffed toy, the mother of 2-year-old James Bowman claimed that it suddenly started saying, "Kill James." Melissa Bowman of Lithia, Florida, reported: "It's not something that really you would think would ever come out of a toy. But once I heard, I was just kind of distraught." The manufacturer, Fisher-Price, said that Bowman would get a voucher for a replacement doll, and would investigate the model to see whether other dolls had the same malfunction.[4]

Elmo's World Phone

In 2009, two grandparents in central Ohio, Jerry and Judy Hunt, claimed the Elmo's World Record & Play Phone Center reportedly asked "Who wants to have sex?". A local news station contacted Fisher-Price, who responded that the toy was supposed to be saying "4, 5, 6". [5]

The Day the Music Died

The Fraggle Rock episode "The Day the Music Died" was the subject of some controversy in 2011. While watching the episode in reruns on The Hub, a father claimed that the racial slur "Jigaboo" was uttered. According to the episode's script, the line is "Gee Gobo." To prevent other viewers from making the same mistake, The Hub planned to edit Gobo's name out of the sentence before future airings of the episode.[6]

Sesame Street Episode 0954

Following the unofficial publication of Sesame Street Episode 0954 on YouTube in July 2016, a line of dialogue delivered by Jerry Nelson playing Ernest the Grouch came into question on the Tough Pigs message board[7] and separately on an alternate YouTube post.[8] Several board members interpreted the line, which occurs during an edit that jumps to another camera angle, as "fuckin' sick" although the script for the episode reads, "I'm getting sick."

Sesame Street Episode 4902

In December 2018, a short video clip of Sesame Street Episode 4902 posted to Reddit gained 119,000 upvotes in less than a day. The video features an exchange between Rosita and Grover in which the latter is purported to say "that's a fucking excellent idea".[9] Grover's line is actually "that sounds like an excellent idea". Various news outlets covered the observation and the story went viral.[10]

On Twitter, Grover originator Frank Oz (who was not performing the character in the clip) weighed in on the controversy: "I’ve never understood why some people love imagining that, between takes, we screw around with the characters by having them swear or having them use sexual innuendos or putting cigarettes in their mouths and laughing. We don’t. It would be a betrayal of the character’s purity."[11] Later that day, in response to a tweet from Mark Hamill, Oz commented: "Wait. You mean some of you out there seriously believe that Grover on Sesame Street would say the word “fuck” — on camera or off-camera? Really????"[12] Jimmy Kimmel Live aired a segment three weeks later in which eight kids were asked to listen to the clip, with half of them misinterpreting the dialogue. (YouTube)

Sources

  1. iwantmyrocky.com (now defunct; originally accessed December 22, 2008) archive
  2. nbc4.com "Elmo Book Asks: 'Who Wants To Die?'" January 26, 2006
  3. nbc4.com "Woman: Toy Tells Boy To 'Beat Up Elmo'" February 23, 2008
  4. Peter Bernard and Ray Reyes, "Toddler's Elmo Doll Makes Death Threats, Family Says", News Channel 8 and The Tampa Tribune, February 21, 2008.
  5. "Grandparents Say Elmo Toy Spouts Inappropriate Message", News Channel 10, updated March 6, 2009.
  6. North Texas Dad Says Unnoticed Racial Slur Slipped In 'Fraggle Rock' Cartoon November 10, 2011.
  7. Tough Pigs Forum"What did he say?" by mjs112879, July 20, 2016
  8. YouTube "Classic Sesame Street - Oscar's Brother Visits"by Sesame Maniac, July 10, 2015 (with comments made at different times over the years)
  9. Reddit r/funny post by u/schrodert, Dec 27, 2018
  10. USA Today E Online New York Post AOL Cosmopolitan The Independant Chicago Sun Times People Magazine TMZ
  11. Twitter December 29 2018, 8:54AM EST by @TheFrankOzJam
  12. Twitter December 29 2018, 6:37PM EST by @TheFrankOzJam

Start a Discussion Discussions about Misinterpretations of Muppet audio

  • Elmo wants you dead, and other things we hear

    2 messages
    • In response to the big deal the internet recently made about Grover (not) dropping an eff bomb in Episode 4902, I moved "Misinterpretati...
    • Ryan found the old TP thread [http://forums.delphiforums.com/toughpigs/messages?msg=1685...