Sesame Street creators are suing the producers of Happytime Murders

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

I would imagine that the creators of Sesame Street have been busy making this face, while filing a lawsuit against the producers of THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS, whose tagline "NO SESAME. ALL STREET" has angered the family-friendly brand considerably. Adding fuel to the fire, the latest trailer for the puppet-oriented comedy features "explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating and even ejaculating puppets." Whoa! It sounds as if the feature from producers Brian Henson, Jeff Hayes, Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone is brought to you by the letter "F" for fucked up. Now, The Wrap is reporting that the Sesame Workshop is suing for unspecified damages from trademark infringement they allege has already occured.

“Sesame seeks to enjoin Defendants’ deliberate effort to appropriate its SESAME STREET mark, and its trusted brand and goodwill, to promote their R-rated movie, The Happytime Murders, by way of a violent and sexually-explicit trailer,” reads a copy of the lawsuit obtained by TheWrap. “SESAME STREET is a registered trademark of Sesame, an organization with a long and storied history of ‘helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.' Defendants’ widely-distributed marketing campaign features a just-released trailer with explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets, along with the tagline ‘NO SESAME. ALL STREET.’ Defendants do not own, control or have any right to use the SESAME STREET mark. Instead, they are distributing a trailer that deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with, has allowed, or has even endorsed or produced the movie and tarnishes Sesame’s brand.”

While Sesame's claim might sound absurd at first, an argument can be made that casual viewers of the forthcoming film's materials could become confused by its parallels to the legendary company that, during the past 50 years, has evolved into a trusted household name. If you think about it, there are a lot of remakes, reboots, and re-brandings going around, these days. Who's to say that Sesame hasn't snapped, and is making a move to appeal to a more mature audience? Granted, it's a bit of a stretch, though I advise you never to underestimate the stupidity of the uninformed public.

The stipulations of the suit also suggest that the “threat of irreparable injury posed to Sesame’s mark and brand cannot be overstated. Sesame has worked for nearly 50 years to build, cultivate and maintain trust with its audience of parents and young children built on its reputation for wholesome educational programming. That trust, although built over a span of generations, is too easily lost and is now in jeopardy. Defendants threaten to inflict serious, irreparable damage to Sesame’s mark and brand by associating their adult movie with Sesame Street.”

“A parade of social media posts, emails and public comments” alleges that the tagline "NO SESAME. ALL STREET" “has confused and appalled viewers because of what they believe to be a serious breach of trust by Sesame by supporting this movie. Defendant’s actions have diluted and defiled Sesame’s beloved Sesame Streetchildren’s television show and SESAME STREET mark by associating their trailer with Sesame Street,”

I don't know, Schmoes, aspects of this feel a bit overblown to me. I can't tell you how many times I've seen parents not give a flying felt puppet about the content their little ones take in. To think that THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS has received the Sesame seal of approval makes me considerably more uncomfortable than having Brian Henson's hand up my ass, in an effort to make me sing and dance.

Nevertheless, the Sesame creators could have something here, and it will be up to the Happytime producers to respond and perhaps change their marketing campaign. I'm sure we'll be bringing you more news on this story as it develops. Until then, THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS starring Melissa McCarthy will arrive in theaters come August 17th.

Source: The Wrap

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.