Bert & Ernie Petitions Bring Out the Haters

11 Aug

So there’s a really interesting/ridiculous discussion going on regarding a Change.org petition that was created last week to out the ambiguously gay duo, Bert & Ernie. There is another petition saying they should get married (as Sesame Street is clearly located in New York, and since the puppets from Avenue Q tied the knot, it seems to make sense).

There have been many discussions about whether or not Bert & Ernie are gay. While they adorn the t-shirts of many walking through Chelsea and the West Village, do we have any real evidence? Well last year, regarding the A-Team movie that was released, Bert tweeted:

“Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T’s? The only difference is mine is a little more ‘mo,’ a little less ‘hawk.'”

Most assumed this was Bert’s coming out tweet, as “mo” was clearly short for “homo.” No other explanations have been offered. We’re not so sure about Ernie, but they’ve lived together 32 years, so…I think it’s safe to assume.

However the real interesting part came today. Now that the story of these petitions is getting out, it seems it’s ruffling a few feathers. People who are against the famous Muppets coming out of the closet have taken to Change.org to create petitions against the felt nuptials. What’s striking me though, is the anti-gay language that is being used in these new petitions’ comment sections.

Petition Signer Sharon Howell says:

“Im so sick of gay people pushing they’re life style on everyone else, first they wanted acceptance and gay rights, okay they got that, then they wanted gay marraige okay they got that which is ridiculous, and they’re still not satisfied. Is’nt sesame street a children’s show? can’t we leave something pure and untouched for the children for god sake they’re exposed to so much already, I have nothing against gays, but sometimes you guys just go way too far, if you want to push for gay marraige and rights that’s your thing, but leave the children alone please. I really hope the shows creators DO NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN, children should continue learning AB’CS and 123’s not about adam and steve god created man and woman to marry!!!”

Firstly, maybe Sesame Street should be teaching a little more about use of apostrophes and commas. Secondly, I’m still trying to figure out when we got gay rights and gay marriage. Last I heard, the government was ripping apart a married gay couple because one spouse isn’t a US citizen. Thirdly, in case you missed it – everything she says should be taken with a grain of salt because she “has nothing against gays.” I just love how that little sentence absolves people of being a bigot.

Rachelle Rose says:

UNBELEIVABLE! i have nothing against gays.. i have many friends and bestfriends who are. but my ONE YEAR OLD does not need to be watchin shit like that!, shes to young to even know about any of that!…if they do that i will not put that on for my kid

Again with the “i have nothing against gays.” She has lots of friends and bestfriends who are gay but apparently behind their backs refer to their relationships as “shit.” fun.

Latabitha King says:

“Kids are too young to try to process this type of information PERIOD.”

And here…in this one simple sentence, we have the reason we have lost referendums in 31 states for marriage equality. I just spent a week with hundreds of LGBT families and hundreds of their children. Do you think these children look at their parents and think “I wonder what my moms having sex is like?” I watched Sesame Street as a kid and I knew that Gordon and Susan were married. Did I ONCE consider what was happening in their bedroom? Nope. If there was a gay couple on Sesame Street, who just happened to live in the same apartment and hold hands and sing songs together, will kids automatically start thinking about gay and lesbian sexual relations? I doubt it.

While at first I thought the Ernie and Bert getting married petition was fairly silly, I’m now in support of it. I think the better scenario would be for a human couple to be introduced on the show that happened to be gay, but I’ll take what I can get. Bert & Ernie, I hope to one day be “doin’ the Pigeon” at your reception.

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9 Responses to “Bert & Ernie Petitions Bring Out the Haters”

  1. kaleba August 11, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    When I first read this post my reaction was, that’s up to the producers of Sesame Street to decide, isn’t it? It appears that now they have: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/08/11/139558361/sesame-workshop-bert-and-ernie-just-friends-have-no-sexual-orientation?sc=fb&cc=fp

    While it’s lovely that we in this country can let others know our opinions, I can’t help wondering if this isn’t all a frivolous means of forgetting the pressing issues of the financial crumbling of our world, war, starvation, violence, etc. Absolutely I believe in equal human rights for all (otherwise, why would I subscribe to this blog?) but to mire ourselves in the marriage or not of PUPPETS is ridiculous.

    I think we need to give kids more credit for understanding the difference between puppets and humans. I remember when Susan and Gordon got married (was it Susan? I remember it being Maria, but geez, that was a long time ago). I even remember when they had a baby. I also remember when Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy got married. Never once did I consider what might be going on in the honeymoon suite of these people and puppets, but on some intuitive level I knew Kermit and Miss Piggy weren’t getting it on after their marriage. They went back in a box, or on a hanger, or wherever puppets are stored.

    Now, I’m old, and I know kids these days are more sophisticated (worldly? knowledgeable?) than I was at their age, but (maybe I’m naive) I don’t think preschoolers are sitting around contemplating sex. Nor should they be. Sesame Street is about learning ABCs and 123s, basic principles like in and out, and over and under, and same and different. Exploiting the relationship of Bert and Ernie for the sake of the LGBT community is just wrong. Just as it would be wrong to have a heterosexual married couple and a homosexual married couple on the show as a demonstration of “same – different”. If the producers of Sesame Street want to promote human rights (aimed particularly for the LGBT community) then I agree that they should have a human gay couple in the cast. But their show isn’t about that, beyond the whole let’s all be friends and get along attitude. Their show is inclusive (from what I can remember) but it isn’t activist except in terms of promoting learning the basics needed for kindergarten.

    Sorry guys. You had me convinced by the end of your post that the Bert and Ernie should get married petition was valid, but I’m now convinced more than ever that if Sesame Street wants to jump on the LGBT bandwagon instead of the kindergarten prep agenda they currently hold, then the world is a much sadder place. There is a time and a place for all, and Bert and Ernie getting married is not going to help kids learn the fundamental building blocks needed for education.

    • Pat August 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      Gay people existing isn’t activism.

      • Jamie McGonnigal August 21, 2011 at 9:25 am #

        Getting people to admit They exist is.

  2. womble August 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    I personally find these continuous attempts to reinterpret any freindship between two straight males as some form of homosexual relationship to be ill advised and damaging to young straight boys.and men.

    Lets be realistic for a moment, most young boys and men seek the approval and affection of their female peers, and many young women will reject the advances of any young man if they have any reason to question his sexuality. This is why the accusation or insinuation of being gay is so damaging and effective against young men. Obviously young men who actually are gay are significantly less concerned about the approval of their female peers.

    The basic problem is this, straight young men are terrified of being accused of being gay. And because of the ongoing attitude of insinuating that any young men with a close freindship are secretly gay, many young straight men intentionally keep their distance from each other, not just physically, but emotionally too.
    We even have tems like bromance that are specifically used to imply that theres something wrong with straight men who have close freindships.

    Young men of this generation feel isolated and alone, and they feel that they have to be in order to be accepted by society. Just look at the rates for depression and sucide among young men. When men are in pain, they have no one to reach out to for help.

    Now I’m not saying that publicly recognising gay relationships is responsible for this situation, but what you are doing in this article is definitely an aggravating factor.
    I admire that you want to help a small group of men feel more accepted by society, but you also need to realise you may be harming many other young men.

    In parts of India, men can walk down the street holding hands with their friend, and no one even thinks of suggesting that they might be gay. Because for them, holding hands is what friends do.

    So why can’t we let men in our society just be friends, without the insuations?

    • Jamie McGonnigal August 13, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

      Holy Wow! Okay, let’s begin with the idea that for generations now, hundreds of perceived male friendships have actually been gay relationships because attitudes like yours have driven people into the closet. For many of us, we still have to introduce our partners to our families and friends as “my roommate” or “my buddy” because our families will either never accept us as we are or we are so ashamed because of societal attitudes that we feel we need to hide who we are.

      Because society sees being gay as “damaging” to one’s character, something needs to change. This is clearly your perception and you are obviously so afraid that some part of your character might make people think you are gay, that it has made you homophobic. I use the term “homophobic” because you are literally afraid of homosexuality.

      If attitudes like yours began to change across the board (as they have), then maybe at some point in the future we will live in a world where your anxieties around your perceived homosexuality will no longer exist. The rates of suicide and depression among young men is high – yes, but ya know what’s higher? 4 times higher as a matter of fact? The depression and suicide rate among young gay men.

      I do not think that perceiving a friendship between two men as something that may possibly be a gay relationship as “damaging” in any way. What IS damaging is the idea that people should feel so terrified of being perceived as gay. Let’s work on that and I think your other problems will be solved.

    • Jan Boomhouwer August 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

      I don’t understand how the marriage of two fictional characters, on a child’s television show, could be harmful to other young men.

      Would it not help the young men of our generation by showing the possibility the two men can marry and be treated the same as everyone else? I believe it would.

      Already the young men of our culture critique the masculinity of one another by policing their behaviors, deeming them feminine or gay. These are the two worst things that you can call a male member of our society. These terms are meant to broadcast to that individual that behavior is not masculine and therefore unacceptable.

      These messages, which are based in heterosexism, are internalized because they are usually presented to a child at a very young age or during adolescence where self-esteem relies heavily on other’s opinion.

      This social construction of what it means to be a man lasts beyond boyhood. Look around and you see countless reminders – in our media, in what we say and how we act towards the men in our lives – of what it means to be a “proper” man.

      One of these reminders is in your statement: “most young boys and men seek the approval and affection of their female peers, and many young women will reject the advances of any young man if they have any reason to question his sexuality.”

      This is prime example of how we control male behavior by saying that a man will be rejected by a romantic interest if he behaves in a feminine or a gay way.

      I think that if we were to see healthy gay relationships among male characters on television from a young age, this policing would end. Seeing Bert and Ernie holding hands, or doing whatever same-sex puppet partners do, would normalize the existence of homosexuality, rather than ‘othering’.

      If being gay becomes normal among our youth, it can no longer be used as an insult or perceived as the ‘worst’ thing a man can be.

      In short – If Bert and Ernie get married, than maybe our culture can take the baby to steps to finally allow our sons to be whoever they want to be.

  3. sean August 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    These are FICTIONAL CHARACTERS, what’s more, THEY ARE PUPPETS, and have NO GENITALS.

    Yes, it’s a kids show, but c’mon folks, if you think that your kid watching Bert and Ernie is going “make them gay” then you have faaar bigger problems to deal with.

    We all need to learn how to accept people for who they ARE, which is one of the main themes in Sesame Street.

    and who really cares if they ARE supposed to be gay?? seems to me that their relationship is open to interpretation, seeing as, as i mentioned, they are PUPPETS.

    get over yourselves and your hang ups, on both sides of this fence. We are all people, it doesn’t matter how and who we love.

  4. Purple Triangle September 1, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    I don’t know what I think about this anymore.

    Actually I do.

    They’re puppets. PUPPETS. They can not get married, they can’t have a job, because they aren’t real. Even my two year old knows puppets, muppets, cartoon characters aren’t real.

    I think quite a bit of this tempest is a bunch of adults with ten million different opinions tying all their prejudices, agendas and goals onto a platform that has nothing to do with those same adults. Sesame Street is primarily pre-k education. Alphabets, counting numbers, spatial concepts and health. Who officially sleeps with who is not a required knowledge level for kindergarten.

    And really! What three year old knows that “mo” means homo? Hell, I didn’t know that, and I’m a bisexual with a lesbian best friend.

    I think the kids seeing Bert and Ernie living happily together works out just fine. They can see two male characters being good friends, sharing their lives together, and not bat an eye. Kids don’t need a felt marriage certificate to see they love each other. They already accept that Bert and Ernie have a close, caring, dedicated relationship with each other. You think 4 year olds are asking each other if Bert has the POA for Ernie, or whether he’ll have the money for the estate tax issues that may come? No.

    Its petty silly stuff like this that discredits the important work that is still ahead of us. Let us stop worrying about two fictional characters and focus on *real* people with *real* challenges ahead of them. Leave kids programming alone. It’s already teaching kids that people of the same sex living together and sharing their lives together is more than okay, it’s *normal*. It won’t a difference to them about a make-believe marriage license.

  5. patricia September 7, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    Really we don’t need this,there are more important things to take into conceration.

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