Word to the wise: Never besmirch Sesame Street. You might get sued like the folks behind the upcoming puppet comedy film “The Happytime Murders.”
Produced by and starring comedian Melissa McCarthy, the film features Sesame Street’s otherwise innocent characters behaving in very uninnocent ways. The film’s marketers chose to advertise this filthy behavior in the film’s trailers.
What type of filthy behavior? Think “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets, along with the tagline ‘NO SESAME. ALL STREET,'” according to a lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday. The trailer also features two puppet prostitutes soliciting a human character, and one puppet acting as a gang leader.
Take a look at the trailer yourself below, but be warned that it contains EXTREMELY GRAPHIC content:
According to Sesame Workshop, the 50-year-old company behind Sesame Street, these trailers could engender “irreparable injury” to its brand.
“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,” the non-profit wrote in its suit.
“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.”
They further noted that the producers of “The Happytime Murders” don’t own the rights to the SESAME STREET label.
“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.”
And therein lies the problem. A parent or even a child who stumbles upon a trailer of the film may very well come away from it believing that the people behind the real Sesame Street played a role in producing it. But they didn’t.
The organization even claimed that some Sesame Street fans have already gotten the wrong impression. They pointed to a “parade of social media posts, emails and public comments” from “confused and appalled” parents.
STX Productions LLC, the primary company reportedly behind the film, has thus far rebuffed Sesame Workshop’s demanding, claiming that the son of Jim Henson — who played a pivotal role in developing characters for Sesame Street back in the 1960s and 1970s — is supportive of the film.
“STX loved the idea of working closely with Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they’re not performing in front of children,” a company representative said to The Wrap.
” Happytime Murders is the happy result of that collaboration and we’re incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film and how well the trailer has been received by its intended audience.”
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