Dr. Leela Magavi, a psychiatrist in Newport Beach, Calif., said the clip helped divert the attention of children and adults from “their own pain and helplessness during this difficult time.”
Many people “perceive Elmo as an amicable, loved character, so when they view his frustration and anger, it helps normalize their own feelings of anger and makes them realize that this is a normal human sentiment,” she added.
To others, the clip is an example of selfishness.
“We’ve all had an Elmo experience, either in college, in a class, or at work somewhere, from people who want to make everything about them,” said Alexiss Tyler, 27, of Kansas City, Mo.
Jennifer Cretu of Snohomish, Wash., said her three boys — ages 8, 11 and 14 — believed that Elmo had been wronged, though her oldest, Liam, was able to sympathize with Zoe because he, too, once had an imaginary friend: Barack Obama.
Her middle child, Silas, believed that the unhinged Elmo phenomenon could have been headed off by having the human character in the scene eat the cookies. “I mean, one is a rock,” he said. “And the other two are just puppets.”
Liv Pearsall, who has 2.8 million followers on TikTok and makes videos highlighting Elmo’s bratty side, said that the “Sesame Street” characters have personalities and that Elmo sometimes displays his in “snarky, savage moments.”