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Last night, my brother [livejournal.com profile] evannichols alerted me to the firing of one of my son's heroes - Melanie Martinez, the host of The Good Night Show on PBS Kids Sprout.

The reason she was fired - Melanie notified the network that a couple of videos that she made seven years ago were circulating on the Internet. While there is nothing in these videos that your average teen doesn't know about and hear at school, they are sexual in nature, and as such Not Safe For Work. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here they are: Anal Sex and Vibrators.

I have to say, I'm pretty ticked off by this, and by how the network handled it. In my opinion, they did more damage to Melanie and themselves by firing her, than ever would have happened with a simple "Yeah, she did those videos. So what?" reaction.

One of our indulgences is TV. Corwin gets to watch a LOT of TV. Or, more specifically, Corwin gets to watch a lot of PBS Kids Sprout. That has programming on 24 hours a day that we don't mind him watching. There are a couple of other places that have things we don't mind him watching (Noggin and the local PBS channel), but their preschool programs are mostly on in the mornings. After 3pm, there really isn't anything on cable that he can watch, except PBS Kids Sprout, and starting at 3pm is when Melanie used to come on.

The way the Good Night show worked, is that each evening would have a theme, and there would be various short segments between the other kids shows where Melanie would come on and tell stories, play games, or show kids how to make crafts. Corwin loved the crafts. Frequently, right after one of the craft segments, Corwin would be screaming at me "I WANT TO MAKE THE MELANIE CRAFT!"

From how the show was structured it was pretty clear nothing was live, and all the little segments were filmed separately, then assembled into a show on any given night. Melanie had just one constant costume and look. All the segments were repeated, some quite frequently. Starting July 10th, they had a season switch, and started showing all new segments, with a new character introduced and a slightly different look for Melanie.

We noticed something wrong recently when, suddenly, Melanie wasn't there. No explanation, just different, nondescript filler between the shows.

This leads to one of the points where I think the network handled this poorly - why did they have to completely purge her from the air? Yes, I can understand no new segments being filmed, but they did something jarring to their audience by simply making her disappear. Because of this, Valkyrie had to explain a new concept to Corwin, to try and tell him "Melanie was fired".

From the statement that PBS Kids Sprout made:
PBS KIDS Sprout has determined that the dialogue in this video is inappropriate for her role as a preschool program host and may undermine her character’s credibility with our audience.
While I have to agree that the videos are inappropriate for a preschool audience, I in no way see how that automatically disqualifies her as a preschool program host. The videos in question are not videos I would show Corwin. Corwin is not old enough for these videos. They are completely irrelevant to "The Good Night Show's" target audience: preschoolers. I would certainly object if Melanie started talking about anal sex or vibrators on air, or those videos were shown on PBS Kids sprout. But they were not, and Melanie's performance of her job was excellent.

Instead, what this network has done is shown themselves as a capricious and bad employer, undermined their credibility with me, and lost themselves audience. Starting today, we will be turning off the TV at 3pm, and will not be watching PBS Kids Sprout during the time they had Melanie on.
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