Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bert & Ernie

I visit Google news constantly because I feel that it is a representative aggregate of the various important headlines of the day. So when I saw a listing for the top stories of the LA Times, I quickly perused the list to see what had caught the attention of one of America’s most celebrated newspapers. The third item in the list (just below a story about the upcoming 9/11 memorial services) was the following headline:

Bert and Ernie: Just friends, not gay, will not marry

Since this development apparently warranted front page status, I naturally assumed that something extraordinary must have occurred such as puppets gaining the ability to exhibit free will. You can imagine my disappointment when the paragraph under the headline explained that despite heavy speculation amongst the public, the creators of Sesame Street insist that the duo are just friends. The story then goes on to quote people from the various pages that have been created either in support of, or opposition to, a romantic storyline between the longtime companions. 

The commentary got pretty heated with one man declaring (in all seriousness) that the children’s show has always been progressive since it portrayed inter-species dating (Kermit & Miss Piggy). Others were concerned that identifying the characters as gay would create an onslaught of homosexual children by indoctrinating them through beloved characters. One man even pointed to Gonzo’s “insatiable lust” for Camilla the Chicken as evidence of the show’s “pro-bestiality” agenda.

On and on the comments went featuring insults like “sodomite” and “homophobe” thrown in for good measure. By the end of the commentary section things had gotten so personal that I had forgotten the context of the story. I must say that the entire ordeal disappointed me all the way around.

I grew up watching Sesame Street, and even back then I remember hearing rumors that Bert & Ernie were homosexual. I supposed I did not give the idea much credence at the time, probably because Sesame Street characters are inanimate objects whose only gender-defining characteristic is hair length, and until recently I assumed such speculation was nothing other than adolescent humor. Apparently, I did not realize what an important cultural battle ground televised-puppetry had become.

In the commentary, I witnessed actual human beings vehemently insulting each other because they could not agree on how to properly categorize the physical and emotional relationship of two pieces of felt. Are there that many four year olds watching the show and thinking, “These puppets are great and all, but I wish the interactions between them were more clearly defined as romantic or platonic.” Must everything be an ideological war zone? Have we actually arrived at the point where a beloved children’s show has been forced to issue a statement ?

While I am at it, the only thing more disappointing than people demanding an answer to Bert & Ernie’s sexuality is the fact that the show’s producers felt the need to oblige them. Don’t humor these people by legitimizing their concerns. The brilliance of using puppets for a children’s show is that you never have to worry about them rebelling against their image and endangering the show’s viability. In the forty plus years the show has been on the air, TMZ has never posted photos of Gonzo snorting blow at a frat party or revealed Kermit’s mug shot after he tried to drown a stripper in Connecticut.

If the producers still felt they needed to address the public’s concerns, I propose the following press release:

Dear Losers,
It has come to our attention that many of you, despite a veneer of intellectualism, feel entitled to clarification concerning the exact nature of Bert & Ernie’s relationship. Instead of reiterating the alarmingly-obvious fact that puppets are lifeless creations intentionally void of political, religious, or ideological bias we felt our time would be better served by urging you to abstain from any activities that could conceivably lead to the continuation of your genetic line. Though extreme, this course of action is the only way to insure that your offspring remain unaffected by the subliminal indoctrination you believe to be present in our program. While we mourn the academic, literary, and economic contributions that will remain unfulfilled in their absence, it is a sacrifice that we here at Sesame street are willing, nay honored, to make.


  1. I have heard the grumblings regarding B&E before and felt much the same as you...embarrassed to be considered of the same species as these people.
    My son is a senior in high school this year and one of the classes REQUIRED is Sociology of todays sexuality(s). Its supposed to "help" them become more tolerant of others preferences thereby making this a better world...I say BULLS#$%. If he wasn't so hellbent on playing football, he wouldn't even be attending at all.
    What happened to our world??

  2. If Bert were really gay, he would have lost the unibrow years ago!

  3. Exceptional MediocrityAugust 28, 2011 at 10:04 PM

    @Not droolin' - I have no idea what happened to our world, but if puppets have to release statements then we are going downhill.

    @RAR - excellent point, such irrefutable evidence should render a press release unnecessary.

  4. RAR how could I have forgotten the "fabulous" tastes in fashion?, you are so right! No way with the unibrow or the dowdy outfits they have been wearing for...ever!
    These guys are more likely beer swillin' riggers or dock workers if we judging by the clothes they haven't changed in 30 years


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