You may have heard that there’s a petition urging PBS to marry Bert and Ernie, the Muppet roommates who have lived together for 40 years on Sesame Street.
So starting a petition to make the boys come out and marry is kinda like asking Queen Latifah to come out and marry her live-in “personal trainer.” Yeah, a lot of us want her to do that, but anyone who would actually start a petition urging her to do it obviously cares more about their own agenda than Latifah’s well-being.
“But Bert and Ernie are just puppets!” you might protest. But that doesn’t take into account that to millions of children they are very real and to millions of adults who grew up on Sesame Street, Burt and Ernie have a 40-year friendship that should be respected, not pushed out into the political arena, wrongly labelled and then used as a token of “progress.”
So why exactly does the petition want them to come out and marry? Let’s take a look:
In this horrific age of LGBT kids taking their own lives, they need to know that they ARE BEAUTIFUL and their lives are worth living. Aside from those that are committing suicide, the bullies that facilitate these tragedies need to learn that homophobia is NOT okay. They need to know that acceptance of their fellow human beings would indeed plant a seed of peace that will reverberate throughout the world. We are not asking that Sesame Street do anything crude or disrespectful. Only that they allow Bert & Ernie to marry or even add a transgender character to the show. It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different. Let Sesame Street and PBS Kids be a big part in saving many worthy lives. Please visit our Facebook page.
But what do these petition signers have in mind exactly? A televised marriage ceremony? Matching rings? A honeymoon? How should being married change Bert and Ernie’s long history of sharing and bickering? They don’t say. And what if Bert and Ernie are closeted and just don’t want to get married?
Y’know Rupert Everett would argue that coming out would ruin both Bert and Ernie’s careers. Just imagine their Muppet landlord saying, “You’ll never ‘rubber duckie’ in this town again!” The boys would have to take onto the streets and sleep in dumpsters like Oscar. Then they’d have to beg for work on Univision and before you know it, you’d see them doing anonymous shows on 4Cam like Reichen Lehmkuhl. Sad.
Talking about marriage though, the National Organization for Marriage already has their eye on the petition asking, “Do Muppets have an orientation?” We can imagine that if Bert and Ernie tie the knot, they’ll clamor, “What’s next?!! Gonzo marries his CHICKENS?? Oscar can adopt a baby to keep in the trash?!?! Big Bird coming out as trans?!?”
Its a slippery slope on Sesame Street.
Rather than trying to turn straight characters gay or outing closeted Muppets, we think the show should consider introducing a new gay or transgender character or consider tackling the topic of different families and acceptance in other ways. After all, they already introduced an HIV+ Muppet on the African version of Sesame Street.
With a little imagination and a lot of felt, anything’s possible.