Should Sesame Street “out” Muppet best friends Ernie and Bert and portray them as married? Yes, according to an online petition at the activist website Change.org.
The petition's argument is that a gay Bert and Ernie would encourage greater LGBT acceptance and that it would serve a community of young people struggling with feelings of shame and isolation.
Pardon my cynicism, but with Hollywood and the mainstream media thoroughly onside, “gay-straight alliance” clubs in practically every school, and Pride Parades in every major city, “LGBT acceptance” is already so widespread, that perhaps “isolated” would more fittingly describe folks who don’t espouse the LGBT view of things. Nevertheless, the question is being taken seriously. So much so, that Sesame Street’s producers felt it necessary to release a 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."
Why is that not enough? Why bring a sexual relationship into the picture? As Chatelaine magazine author Flannery Dean notes:
[I]t makes me wonder what it is about the notion of friendship that escapes (or bores) adults. Have we come so far down the Jersey Shore that grownups can only conceive of friends with benefits now? […]
For some reason, I don't think kids find it hard to imagine that two muppets can enjoy each other's company without crawling into each other's sleeping bag at night.
Indeed. I’m glad that Sesame Street has (so far) stood firm. Let children continue to enjoy the innocent fun and humour of the Abbott and Costello of the Muppet world. Sexual politics not required.