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Old 31 May 2018, 06:30 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
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Judge Judge sides with "The Happytime Murders" after "Sesame Street" complaints

Judge sides with Melissa McCarthy's "The Happytime Murders" after "Sesame Street" complaints

Everything's not A-OK for "Sesame Street." A judge has denied a request by the children's show for a temporary restraining order to halt ads for Melissa McCarthy's new film, "The Happytime Murders," a vulgar adult comedy featuring puppets reminiscent of shows like Off-Broadway's "Avenue Q" or Comedy Central's defunct "Crank Yankers."
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Old 31 May 2018, 06:52 PM
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GenYus234 GenYus234 is offline
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It clearly says No sesame.

I'm on the fence about this. I don't think they are trying to make people think this has been endorsed by the Sesame Street people and for the most part, I don't think people will confuse the two*. But they are certainly using the fame that it has as part of their marketing. While that may be legal, I think it is a cheap ploy.

* As the article noted, only a very few people who watched the trailer were confused.
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Old 31 May 2018, 07:30 PM
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ChasFink ChasFink is offline
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I'm certainly not on the fence. The judge did the right thing. Even if the puppets in this movie are deliberately intended to invoke the Sesame Street Muppets, it's parody. An effective parody should call attention to what's being parodied. As for people who would actually think Sesame Workshop was involved or approving, I have pity for them.
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Old 31 May 2018, 08:58 PM
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Richard W Richard W is offline
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I watched it a few days ago before the decision (was there a previous thread here or just something I saw on Facebook?), and thought that Sesame Street were definitely right to complain - they were absolutely trying to invoke the idea of Sesame Street, they were also being endorsed by the rights-holders to the Muppets (and are directly referencing some of that) and if I'd not been watching it in the context of the complaint, I'd have also thought it might have been made by the makers / rights-holders to Sesame Street.

It's not because I'm stupid enough to think that it was intended as a children's film, and it's not because I can't recognise a parody. To my mind, the parody element isn't relevant - it's not a parody of Sesame Street (at least, not judging from the trailer); it's taking Muppets / Sesame Street style puppets, putting them directly in "inappropriate-for-Sesame-Street" situations, and referencing Sesame Street while doing so.

The relevant legal factor presumably would come down to whether or not "Sesame" was trademarked independently from "Sesame Street", and whether or not mentioning "Sesame" in one sentence, and "Street" two words later, was infringing on the "Sesame Street" trademark (if they have one). Presumably, these things aren't legally the case.

But I think the Sesame Street people were perfectly right to complain about it. If I'd seen the trailer out of context, I'd have assumed it was associated with them too - because it clearly and deliberately associates itself with them.
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Old 31 May 2018, 11:31 PM
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Gutter Monkey Gutter Monkey is offline
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If I was a conspiracy theorist I'd say that the entire court case was just a publicity stunt because both sides got exactly what they want: the Sesame St company made it very clear that they're not associated with this stuff and tried to distance themselves from it because WHY WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN (which would head off any negative social media noise that might have been thrown at them) and the film company got labelled as the 'bad boys' of the muppet industry who break the rules because they don't care who they offend. And it was all reported fairly wide in the news outlets whereas I don't think the movie would have received nearly as much attention if they hadn't had a court case, unless a childrens advocate group discovered something objectionable in it (such as happened with the Show Dogs movie, which got a whoooooole lot of media attention they would have prefered not to receive).
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Old 01 June 2018, 01:22 PM
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ChasFink ChasFink is offline
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Richard W, I agree that they had a right to complain, but I don't see how this is an infringement on Sesame Workshop's intellectual property. Aside from the use of "sesame", I saw nothing in that trailer that specifically referenced Sesame Street - the Muppets and kids' puppet shows in general yes, but Sesame Street no. (Although some Muppets are on Sesame Street, the Muppets do have a right to do whatever they want with their style of puppet, as long as they don't infringe on Sesame Street characters.) If they did have some rights to the word "sesame" by itself, I'm sure it would have been restricted to a very limited use - children's programming titles only, for example. Even then, the plug line said "No sesame". But yes, you're right, the parody factor does not seem relevant.

Gutter Monkey, even if it wasn't a conspiracy, the effect is just as you said.

By the way, despite some good jokes, the picture looks pretty awful. I'm not a big fan of ejaculation humor, especially when the "humor" equals "someone ejaculated". (There's a sentence I never thought I'd write.)
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