My family has been Sesame Street fans since my boys tuned in years ago. They grew up with Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Mr. Hooper, Mr. Snuffleupagus, Bert, Ernie, Count von Count and countless others, humans and Muppets. One of our favorite holiday traditions was watching Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. Big Bird tries to figure out how Santa gets down the chimney.
I am oftentimes amused, flabbergasted, annoyed and sometimes perplexed by today’s news. This past week’s controversy – besides the Kavanaugh drama – was about the Muppets Bert and Ernie. The debate raging across the continent: are Bert and Ernie a gay couple?
Sesame Street says no. The company published the following tweet this week – then retracted it:
Bert and Ernie premiered with the original Sesame Street show in 1969. The two Muppets were apparently modeled after Neil Simon’s Odd Couple, a male duo thrown together by circumstances – divorce.
Over the decades the gay community ‘adopted’ Bert and Ernie. Opposition to the couple’s portrayal started in the 1980s.
Are they, or aren’t they? My question: Why does it matter?And what does it say about a variety of interactions witnessed all around us every day….
What happens when two people of the same sex are seen together. Do some people automatically think they are gay? What if they are not holding hands? What if they are? What if they are walking down the street eating ice cream and taste each other’s concoctions? Does that make them gay or just unsanitary?
I traveled with three girlfriends and we shared rooms, two per room. I traveled with my sister and we shared a room. I stayed with a friend for a week in her vacation villa. If anyone saw us leave the hotel room or villa together would they assume we were a gay couple? Would onlookers consider us an item? Has this happened and I was unaware of the stares and whispers?
I occasionally walk arm in arm with another woman when my companion needs assistance. Do spectators assume we are doddering old gay love-birds?
When friends have lunch together, do folks at adjacent tables discuss whether or not the couple is gay? If it is me and a friend, when we lean in to listen to each other because we both have hearing issues does that confirm the hypothesis?
When three people walk together, huddling against the cold or in deep conversation or seemingly enjoying each other’s company – three women, three men, two women and a man, one woman and two men, one, two, or all three gender ambiguous – are they considered a wild erotic threesome?...
My mind wanders. Back to Bert and Ernie. I hope both experience a long, happy life, however they choose to live.