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Is Listening to Sesame Street Really Torture?

Is Listening to Sesame Street Really Torture?

Everyone has his or her own threshold. For some people, whether they be parents or not, listening to some children’s music over and over again (as is the preference for many children) becomes torturous. For me, a few listens to Barney the Dinosaur would reduce me to a ball of propane and nails waiting to combust.

Well leave it to United States military interrogators to employ all sorts of music (on repeat) to coerce inmates to talk and/or comply. One choice selection that was played, in particular, to inmates at Guantanamo Bay was songs from Sesame Street. What is basically buoyant, happy, educational music becomes literally torturous when played repeatedly for sometimes hours, or days, on end. Basically this is music torture (The Pentagon on Thursday acknowledged music has at times been used as a “disincentive,” but “in a measured way” that did not amount to mistreatment or torture.).

This is not entirely new, as the practice was first widely reported back in 1989 when U.S. forces tried to sonically torture Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega out of his compound by playing Van Halen’s “Panama” over and over again.

Not to make light of this disturbing report, because this is in fact a form of torture, but I could not stop thinking about the idea that any song could become torturous, if played loud enough and repeatedly. So what is the song/music that would get you to your breaking point faster than anything? For me, without question, it would be anything by the Chipmunks. Are there certain songs/music that is just utterly unlistenable or just horrendous when repeated ad nauseum?

Read more: Babies, Caregiving, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


+ add your own
4:04PM PDT on Aug 15, 2012

telletubbies. uck

5:51AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

I am a little disconcerted by the juxtaposition of our sometimes irritated responses to this type of music, and the very real, cruel, carefully applied audio torture. I am amused by memories of being irritated by noise I did not choose. It was much harder to take when I was tired or trying to concentrate on an important task. I have never been kept up 72 hours or more by painfully loud music of happy children while being told my children were being tortured, or interspersed with crying, terrified children's voices, or a recording I am told is my dog being killed. It is different, and not just by degrees.

8:07AM PDT on Jun 7, 2012

I LOVE Sesame Street, especially ELMO : )

7:09AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

p.s. I think "hamsterdance" is pretty bad.

7:08AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

definitely sharing w/anyone who has kids :)

7:02AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

how about 'the wiggles'??? grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .....

12:26AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

@Marie, I am so with you on that one....

4:55PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Teletubbies worse.

2:43PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Is it really torture? It kinda is!

1:40PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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people are talking

Hmmmmmm. Did not know this.

Eating finally accomplished...

what a cute kitty. I love the name Winnie. I wonder if she'll still carry on the Dragon sound :D

Thanks, I love these suggestions

Some good suggestions thanks.


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