Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Australian news marks return of stolen Big Bird costume with experimental short film

The Big Bird costume, beak open in what we hope is a puppet smile, after being discovered.
The Big Bird costume, beak open in what we hope is a puppet smile, after being discovered.
Screenshot: 7News Australia

Last week, a pair of thieves abducted a Big Bird costume from a Sesame Street circus show in Adelaide, Australia. We’re pleased to report that the Bird suit has been returned to its home. We’re even more pleased, to report that the local 7News Adelaide has tweeted a video showing the Sesame Street character’s return that’s even more eerie than one might expect footage of a giant, empty costume lying abandoned in the dark to be.

As a bit of background, another, less unnervingly silent clip from 7News and an accompanying write-up explains how the Big Bird costume was discovered propped up against an electrical box in the early morning last Wednesday. The suit, which is valued by the Sesame Street Circus Spectacular at $160,000 (presumably AUD), disappeared from the show only days before it showed up again. It was returned by two men “seen wearing dark clothing” who dumped the costume near Adelaide’s Bonython Park. The Bird boys left behind “a handwritten note apologizing for the theft ... in the bird’s beak” that reads “we had no idea what we were doing or what our actions would cause.”

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“We were just having a rough time and were trying to cheer ourselfs [sic] up,” the note continued. “We had a great time with Mr. Bird, he’s a great guy and no harm came to our friend. So sorry to be such a big birden!” It was signed, “Sincerely, The Big Bird Bandits.”

While the Bird’s owners are happy for its return, 7News’s Twitter clip took a more meditative look at the toll the experience has taken on both Adelaide and Big Bird himself. A man inspects the beak, removes the legs, and plumbs the depths of the costume’s feathery ass. All the while, Big Bird stares dead-eyed and mouth agape into the distance. Eventually, he’s filmed in action again, waving listlessly at people walking past. “Ah, Big Bird!” someone yells from offscreen. “Glad to have you back, bud!” Real birds chirp in the distance as he walks down the sidewalk, away from the camera.

Somehow, nobody has edited this video yet to include Eraserhead background noise or a plaintive piano melody. But give it time. Just as Big Bird himself will need space to work through his kidnapping experience, so, too, does the internet require a little while longer before it’s ready to turn the news B-roll into something even more haunting than the raw clip.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.