The Journey to Elmo


[Image from articles.baltimoresun.com]

The 2011 film, Being Elmo, documents the life of Kevin Clash, the puppeteer and the man behind the lovable character, Elmo. The character of Elmo pre-Clash began as a caveman-like character. However, Clash offered to take over the puppet and Elmo became the embodiment of “love”. Elmo’s role as the embodiment of love on Sesame Street may attribute to Elmo’s wide popularity, and why he is so loved by people of all ages.

The film gives insight into Clash’s beginnings as a puppeteer, his rise to fame, and his role as a part of Jim Henson’s legacy.

As a huge Elmo fan, this documentary was high on my list of things to watch. I grew up watching the Muppets, have watched Labyrinth more times than I’d like to admit, and still watch Sesame Street (and Elmo’s World!) whenever I can. Being Elmo was such a positive and uplifting film, and Clash’s story was very inspirational. That sounds like an incredibly generic thing to say, but words cannot even express how moved I was by Clash’s story. His love for puppeteering and working with children was evident in the way that he spoke, and in the way that coworkers, friends, and others spoke about him. Being Elmo showed up under the “heartfelt films” category on Netflix, so I knew that it was going to make me cry. And sure enough, it did. (But then again, I’m a massive crybaby.) Clash closes the film saying,

[Image from popcornmoviereview.com]

“If everybody else your age is doing something very different from what you’re doing, there’s always going to be someone saying to you that you might not succeed with it, you might not make any money with that. There’s always going to be some type of obstacle in the way. All of those things will go away if you really focus on what makes you happy.”

This is something that I feel that journalists may connect with. We’re constantly told that we’re entering a dying field, that degrees in journalism are losing their value, and other things that are meant to hinder us from pursuing our dreams rather than a practical occupation. However, I have always been of the train of thought that doing something because you love it rather than doing something because it pays well is more rewarding. Your dedication and commitment to something that simply pays the bills won’t be as great as something that you truly love, a sentiment echoed by Kevin Clash. The message of Being Elmo was essentially that fame may or may not be achieved, but commitment and dedication to something makes it worthwhile.

Being Elmo, which is narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, is available for instant streaming on Netflix, and is available on DVD.

Clash also has an autobiography called My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Being Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love and Laughing Out Loud, which was released in 2006.

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Comments

  1. Elmo looks so cute in that first picture! :$

    • Carina Browder says:

      The way Kevin gives Elmo life is so amazing. There was a quote at the start of the film talking about how the soul of the puppeteer shines through in their personification of the puppet, and I truly believe that we’re seeing that from Kevin.

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