As you may have heard, some people on the internet have been petitioning for the fine folks who run Sesame Street to have Bert and Ernie come out as a gay couple, arguing that such a move would be educate children about gays. Thankfully, Sesame Street’s producers came out today (no pun intended) and put the kibosh on this.
“Bert and Ernie are best friends,” Sesame Workshop said in a statement. “They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves.”
Yes. Thank you Sesame Workshop. I think their big-picture strategy, though not obvious to the untrained eye, is brilliant. You probably don’t see it, so allow me to explain what they’re doing.
You see, ignorance is typically the root of homophobia and actually having a gay person in their life would likely lead to most homophobes being un-homophobic. With that said, anyone, even a child, can tell that Bert and Ernie are gay. It’s so painfully obvious!. No functional gaydar is even required. The characters as they exist present children with regular exposure to the gay lifestyle, so there’s really no need for them to come out and get gay-married.
Now here’s where things get really deep…
By keeping Bert and Ernie, particularly Bert, in the closet, Sesame Street subconsciously teaches kids that staying in the closet is a horrible thing for a gay person to do because — in addition to being detrimental to the gay rights cause by doing nothing to stem ignorance — it just makes their life so much more difficult.
How so, you ask? Well, it’s obvious that Bert’s ever-present stick-up-his-as$ angst and cynicism is rooted in the fact that he’s had to live his life in the closet. Forcing Bert to keep his smoldering meat-lust for Ernie concealed is an excellent lesson for future generations. It just screams out, “Look kids, you don’t want to have to live your life like Bert has had to live his — sneaking around all the time, hyper-conscious that your every move may blow your cover — if you, in fact, turn out to be gay. Just own it and then you never have to worry about trying to hide it.”
So there. It’s obvious that this is exactly what Sesame Workshop is doing here. So obvious. Finally, Bert is such a power-bottom, isn’t he?
(Bert’s Manhunt profile screengrab via Cheat Sheet)