Is the metaverse on the way to "Sesame Street"?
Some fans of the beloved TV series criticized Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind the show, after it announced it would offer 5,555 editions of Cookie Monster NFT collectibles.
Critics on social media said the decision to launch an NFT collection is a divergence from Sesame Street’s origins as an educational program to help level the playing field for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly Black and Latino children. Some pointed out the cost (each NFT is priced at $60) also makes it inaccessible to many viewers.
“NFTs are very much against the ideals I associate with Sesame Street,” said Becca Petunia, a writer for ToughPigs: Muppet Fans Who Grew Up, a Sesame Street online fan community.
The Cookie Monster NFTs seem financially inaccessible for most people and aimed to those with disposable income, Petunia continued.
“The environmental impact is questionable, which contradicts Sesame’s many ecological messages," she said. "It isn’t a product which feels purposeful or important."
Others online had similar reactions.
“Sesame Street was built on helping educate children in lower income living. To give those less privileged the opportunity to learn before entering preschool,” one fan account, called "Muppet History," tweeted. “This nostalgia fueled cash grab goes against that ideology entirely and it’s sickening."
“Who even asked for this?! Who does this appeal to?” wrote another Twitter user.
Some also questioned the relevance of NFTs. “NFTs are still around?” one Twitter user wrote.
"This is pure disrespect for a education institution like Sesame Street… but… the NFT market is collapsing," another user added.
A spokesperson for Sesame Workshop did not address the backlash when asked for request for comment.
“The launch of Sesame Street digital collectibles helps fund our mission-driven work to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger and kinder while giving our longtime adult fans a new way to showcase their love for Sesame Street’s character," the spokesperson said. "The partnership with VeVe is an opportunity to explore the digital space to connect with collectors in ways that resonate with them.”
VeVe, a digital collectibles app that has partnered with Sesame Street, offers premium licensed collectibles from partner brands including Disney, Marvel, DC Comics and Warner Bros., and Star Wars. The platform allows fans to interact with one another by showcasing their digital collections in virtual showrooms and virtually visiting, commenting on and liking showrooms from other collectors.
Some online defended Sesame Street's decision.
"NFT’s are better for the environment [than] real toys, and there’s a real collector base for these that people love to throw hate at," one Twitter user wrote.
"I grew up watching Sesame Street & am a fan of it til this day," another user wrote. "It was a part of my childhood. I have not seen a valid argument against NFT that cannot be disproved yet. Arguments against NFTs are either weak or just stem from ignorance."
The Cookie Monster NFT drop is scheduled for March 19.
Petunia said she plans to honor the "Sesame Street" she grew up with.
“Yes, this particular image is new," she said of the NFTs, "but it doesn’t do anything to further our appreciation for the characters in a meaningful way.”