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Leave Elmo’s Fister Alone

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on November 13, 2012

UPDATE: Clash’s accuser recanted. See below.

Sex scandals rule. So much juicy gossip. So much Schadenfruede. So many people that aren’t us being shamed. So publicly.

We love ’em. We foam at the mouth for consensual celebrity sex scandals. We mwah-ha-ha at a good power dynamic sex scandal. Heck, we can’t even get enough of full-on child rape scandals. More. Give it. Feed the beast.

In the past week alone, we’ve seen high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against big business leaders, top military/spy brass and famous puppeteers. A former personal assistant accused Waffle House CEO Joseph Rogers Jr. of forcing her to “perform sexual services” to keep her job. Lockheed Martin’s incoming CEO Christopher Kubasik resigned before Day 1 for having a “close personal relationship” with a subordinate. General David Petraeus stepped down as the director of CIA after becoming enmeshed in a love triangle pentagon, which now includes the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!

• SEE ALSO: Voice of Elmo Denies Sex With Minor, Takes Leave

And, of course, there’s Elmo — or, more specifically, Kevin Clash, the 52-year-old Elmo creator. The waaaay-too-easy “Tickle Me” jokes flooded Twitter, Facebook and blog headlines after it was revealed that Clash now stands accused of an improper relationship with a minor. Clash does not deny a sexual affair with the now-24-year-old, but he insists it began after the man came of age, not at 16 as the accuser suggested. “I had a relationship with [the accuser],” Clash said. “It was between two consenting adults and I am deeply saddened that he is trying to make it into something it was not.”

Clash took leave from the show while he deals with the allegations.

The other high-profile affairs and allegations are legit national news stories. The Petraeus-Broadwell-Allen-Kelley-Shirtless FBI Agent saga involves national security; the Lockheed Martin scandal involves workplace violations at a publicly traded company; the Waffle House nightmare involves a serious set of criminal allegations. Clash does not fit into these molds.

So what makes the Clash story so riveting? Why has “Elmo” been trending on Twitter since the story broke on Monday morning?

Is it the gay thing? There’s no hypocrisy there — Clash is not closeted.

Is it the age difference? Clash insists the relationship began after the accuser became legal, but there is still a 28-year gap.

Is it his line of work? Children’s entertainers are not asexual, though sometimes it makes us feel better to think they are.

Is it the ease with which the jokes come rolling off the tongue or onto the keyboard? Do a Twitter/Facebook search for “Tickle Me,” and even we went with a fisting barb in headline of this very article (linkbait!).

Is it that we’re so bored with our own lives that we’ll find something, anything we can, to feel better about our own existence?

• SEE ALSO: Shirtless FBI Agent, General Added to Petraeus Farce

Urging a scandal-mad public to ignore a sex story is like passing laws to stop rubbernecking on the highway, and inevitably, the more you want gawkers to turn away, the more they want to see the carnage. You better believe TMZ will be publishing follow-ups every day for the remainder of the week, or month, trying to dig up more intensely personal emails to divulge.

But this one feels dirty. Not because the situation is dirty, but because this seems to be such a sad, personal matter between two people who feel hurt by each other’s actions on a deeply spiritual level. They’re not megastars. They didn’t ask for this. They’re just people, maybe once in love, maybe still in love, finding their way in the world, and trying to figure out how to get the fuck out of this mess before every word they’ve ever uttered to each other in private becomes public. For a change, let’s let that happen here.

You wanna talk about Sesame Street? THIS is how it’s done.

UPDATE: The accuser has recanted.

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