Warning: Discussion of domestic violence and mental health.
A Sesame Street puppet, the creator of Seinfeld, and a Star Trek actor are at the center of the latest internet drama.
On Feb. 1, Elmo asked the question, "How is everyone doing?" and it went extremely viral.
Everyone from celebrities...
I’m kind of a crossroads and frankly could use a little support.
— RainnWilson (@rainnwilson) January 31, 2024
...to fictional characters,
Dear Elmo, it was kind of you to check in on all your friends this week. I have been busy making a lot of marmalade. How are you doing?
— Paddington (@paddingtonbear) February 1, 2024
...multinational mass media and entertainment studio conglomerates,
— Sony Pictures (@SonyPictures) January 30, 2024
...and everyday people opened up to our favorite little red puppet to share how they were feeling.
Wife left me Daughters don’t respect meMy job is a joke Any more questions, Elmo??? Jesus man
— 7/11 Truther (@DaveMcNamee3000) January 29, 2024
The responses blew up so much that Elmo was invited to the Today Show with his dad, Louie, to discuss the viral moment and mental health, and that's when things took a turn.
Waiting in the wings, writer/creator and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David, was also there to promote the final season of his hit series, but he surprised everyone when he left his seat to "throttle" Elmo in the middle of his segment.
It was pretty shocking and unexpected.
Honestly, I can completely relate to Hoda Kotb's reaction.
Eventually, Larry did apologize to Elmo for the attack, but he doubled down on Late Night with Seth Meyers. "Elmo was talking. I was waiting to be interviewed, and Elmo was going on about mental health, and I had to listen to every word," Larry explained. "And I was going, 'Oh my God, oh my God, I don't think I can take another second of this!' And so I got off my chair, and I approached him, and I throttled him! I couldn't take it!"
"And you know what?" Larry added. "I would do it again."
Then, actor Wil Wheaton shared his feelings about the incident in a lengthy Facebook post, slammed Larry's actions, and explained how watching the Today Show segment really affected him negatively.
"So I heard about Larry David assaulting Elmo on life television but didn't watch it until now because I knew it would upset me," Wil began.
"Holy shit it's even worse than I thought. What the fuck is wrong with that guy? Elmo is, like, the best friend to multiple generations of children. In the Sesame Street universe, ELMO IS A CHILD, who is currently putting mental health and caring for others in the spotlight."
"Full disclosure: all the time, when I was growing up, my dad would grab me by the shoulders and shake me while he screamed in my face," Wheaton shared in his lengthy post. "He choked me more than once," Wil wrote.
"I really want to know what raced through his tiny little mind, and why there was no voice or person who spoke up to stop him from expressing violence towards a children's puppet WHO WAS THERE TO TALK ABOUT HOW HIS LOVE AND EMPATHY FOR PEOPLE HAVING A TOUGH TIME MATTERED AND MADE A DIFFERENCE."
"A nontrivial number of people who none of us will ever know were inspired by it, and that was the last little nudge they needed to make the call or send the email to being healing," Wil noted. "Elmo probably saved lives and relationships by opening that conversation."
Some people think Wil was taking things too seriously. His lengthy and critical response immediately gained traction, receiving a lot of mixed reactions, and they're quite surprising.
One Facebook user wrote, "I just watched it because you posted about it. How horrible. I've never gotten into Larry David, and now I know why. Thank you for your words of wisdom. They are much needed."
People mocking Wil Wheaton for being open about his PTSD after Elmo got attacked is exactly why we need a huge overhaul on mental health in this country.This is why people trauma-dumped on Elmo in the first place, because the rest of you are assholes.#TeamWesley
— Darth Maul-tism, MLIS 💀🩸🐈⬛ (@RogueArtemis) February 8, 2024
"I didn't watch this video. You are making me glad I didn't. You are also making me think I shouldn't ever. Elmo just wants to be everyone's friend, and he deserves to be," another Facebook user shared.
Wil Wheaton is reacting to traumatic events in his own past that were triggered when he watched the David/Elmo clip. I didn't have the same reaction, but I can empathize with him. It didn't bother me, personally. pic.twitter.com/agjBIIedwV
— Jack Shipley (@JRSPipBoy2008) February 8, 2024
Another person on Facebook noted, "I haven’t been able to watch it. It’s cruel, privileged and hateful. Sending you so much love and holding space for baby Wil today."
I think there’s an 85% chance Wil Wheaton thinks Elmo is real
— Aelfred The Great (@aelfred_D) February 8, 2024
"I’m a therapist and just became aware of the power of Elmo. For Larry David to do this, then double down and say he would do it again, is a terrible thing amidst our country’s mental health problems. Thank you, Wil, for raising awareness about this…and I’m sorry for those like yourself who were triggered," another user wrote.
forcing Wil Wheaton to watch avenue q's long protracted scenes of muppet murder pic.twitter.com/jLwzaLc8pA
— Liquid Knight (@KnightLiquid) February 8, 2024
Warner Bros./ Twitter: @KnightLiquid
IF YOU GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO READ WIL WHEATON’S TAKE ON LARRY DAVID CHOKING ELMO I RECOMMEND YOU DON’T
— Doug Benson (@DougBenson) February 8, 2024
I want to know what you think. Do you think Larry David went too far, or perhaps Wil Wheaton was too critical?
Let's discuss in the comments.
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If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453(4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline is 1-888-950-6264 (NAMI) and provides information and referral services; GoodTherapy.org is an association of mental health professionals from more than 25 countries who support efforts to reduce harm in therapy.