Monday, August 15, 2011

Should Bert and Ernie Get Married?

Most likely, you've heard about this story.  A Facebook page has sprung up and begun a petition to Let Bert & Ernie Marry on Sesame Street.  The Facebook group's owner want Sesame Street to show how there are GLBT people living in the neighborhood, just like there are people of all genders, shapes, races, and interests walking down the street.  The page comes as a result of New York state's new marriage equality law, but people have been talking about Bert and Ernie as a gay couple for over 20 years.

Sesame Workshop came out with the following response to the Bert and Ernie gay marriage petition:
Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.  Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.
Personally, I have more of a problem with Sesame Workshop's explanation about why Bert and Ernie aren't a married couple as opposed to their decision to not make them a married couple.  They own Bert and Ernie and all of the other Muppets and are free to do what they want with their Muppets and their individual personalities and story lines.

But Muppets do have sexual orientations.  I watched Miss Piggy chase after Kermit the Frog long enough to know that Muppets can have sexual orientations if their creators write them that way.  They even get married, if the story calls for it.  Once again, ask Kermit and Miss Piggy if Muppets ever marry.  Or ask the Bear Family if they have a wedding in their family background.  Are Baby Natasha's parents married or do they also lack sexual orientations?

I don't think that Sesame Workshop should marry off Bert and Ernie unless they want to.  But I think they should be a little more intellectually honest and move away from the whole "they are puppets and don't have sexual orientations" argument.  If they don't want to do it, they should just say that we don't want to take those Muppet characters in that direction.

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