Friday, June 28, 2013

Bert and Ernie: Gay - The New Yorker

From Human Events:

No, not even Muppets are spared in our culture war. Below is the cover of the new issue of The New Yorker.

“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter, the artist behind the cover. “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”

Then again, in response to an 2011 online petition calling for Bert and Ernie to tie the knot, the Sesame Workshop’s Facebook page offered this statement:

“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…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
So the Sesame Workshop declares that Bert and Ernie are not gay. But that doesn't stop The New Yorker from exploiting them.

The cover is open to interpretation. We don't know what Bert and Ernie are thinking. They're looking at an image of the Supreme Court, on a very old TV. However, we do know what the artist intended. The Supreme Court decision is a "moment we can all celebrate." Bert and Ernie are happy.

Let's be realistic: Those at the Sesame Workshop support gay marriage. I'm sure they don't mind the cover at all. The 2011 statement just calls for people not to boycott Bert and Ernie and Sesame Street. There's a lot of money in merchandising at stake. Their hands are clean.

I don't think it's a good thing or something to celebrate when beloved childhood characters are used to advance any political agenda.

What would the cover have looked like if the Supreme Court upheld DOMA? Would Bert Ernie be angry and marching in the streets? Would they be weeping?

The target audience for Bert and Ernie is preschoolers.

Innocence lost.

Granted, preschoolers aren't likely to see the cover of The New Yorker, unless their parents go out of their way to show them.

Still, I don't think the characters should be used like this.

Bert and Ernie's alleged support of gay marriage conflicts with the religious values many children are taught.

Why not leave these issues to be discussed by the grown-ups and real people?

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