Alvin Poussaint

Alvin F. Poussaint is clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children's Center. He is co-author of Raising Black Children and a former Cosby Show consultant.

Recent Articles

The Trouble With Teletubbies

Jerry Falwell was right: the Teletubbies are insidious, but not because they’re insinuating dubious ideas into the minds of one-year olds. The program is the culmination of PBS’s long drift toward commercialization. 

"If Public Television doesn't do it, who will?" —PBS motto Public television's pithy tag line is meant to have positive connotations—innovating, filling a void, performing a vital public service. But the slogan took on ironic overtones last year when it appeared on advertisements heralding the arrival of Teletubbies , the first television program ever broadcast in the United States for a target audience of children as young as 12 months. Teletubbies features a huggable band of four alien toddlers who have televisions in their tummies. Their heads are topped by antennae conveniently sized to fit in a baby's grasp—kind of like plush rattles. As the Teletubbies babble in a language sounding a lot like toddler talk, they frolic in a lush, fairy tale–like landscape. Under the watch ful eyes of a blue-eyed, giggling baby ensconced in a glowing sun, they interact with things of great interest to young children—a butterfly, a giant ball, or a toaster. One of the...