“H” is for Hypocrisy

by Stephen H. Miller on August 13, 2011

In response to a campaign asking PBS to let long-time “Sesame Street” roommates Bert and Ernie get married, the taxpayer-funded producers announced that:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends … 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.”

Which came as news to blogger Julian Sanchez, who points out that many muppets of the opposite-sex variety often romantically date or pine for one another, and the Twiddlebugs muppets are a standard nuclear family. As Sanchez notes:

What all of these have in common is that they’re heterosexual couples. Because it’s regarded as the default, that “sexual orientation” is invisible. But, of course, it’s still there—and nobody imagines that simply depicting all these straight couples and families somehow counts as injecting inappropriate “adult” or sexualized material into a children’s show.

I doubt this is news to the clever producers at “Sesame Street,” however. More likely they’re dancing around the issue. To be fair, if Bert and Ernie got married there would be a huge brouhahah from the traditional values right, since PBS is a taxpayer-funded enterprise (that is, social conservatives have their money taken by the federal government and given to the producers, whether they like it or not). Since PBS has been long under fire for biased reporting favoring big government liberalism, a same-sex wedding could be the final straw.

Which is the problem with taxpayer-funded media; gay characters have proliferated on commercial and pay cable networks, including TV Land sitcoms, while children’s programming at liberal taxpayer-funded PBS remains in the 60s – big government is just dandy, but gays are in the closet.

{ 6 comments }

JohnAGJ August 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

I would agree that we need to end all funding for CPB/PBS, but I also couldn’t care less about the nature of Bert & Ernie’s relationship. The level of stupidity by those pushing for them to be “outed” is phenomenal. As if muppets daring to speak of the love that used to be treated otherwise is even remotely important. Are these idiots trying to deliberately bait and galvanize the social cons? We barely got DADT repeal through while DOMA repeal and enactment of ENDA are both DOA. It seems to me that there are far more important “gay issues” to be focused on, particularly in light of an impending Republican takeover next year, than whatever the hell Bert & Ernie are up to.

grendel August 13, 2011 at 9:58 am

wait a minute Stephen. have gay characters proliferated in children’s programming on commercial and pay cable networks?

otherwise you are comparing apples to oranges.

Houndentenor August 13, 2011 at 10:36 am

Oy!

Like most people, I know plenty of couples that remind me of Bert and Ernie. But the purpose of the characters is to show how children who have to share a room work out conflicts. They were never intended to be seen as a couple.

Jorge August 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

I tend to see them as bachelors. They were created far too long ago to be gay, and I’m not a big fan of ret-conning.

Nice foot-in-mouth moment on Sesame Street, though.

Doug August 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

I think it’s time to go back on your medication Stephen if this is all you have to rile about.

Mary August 15, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Yes, and “S is for self-destructive” which is what gays are if they don’t persuade their allies to get away from silly gimmicks like this. When I heard about this petition I was sure it was satire. It sounds like something social conservatives made up to scare voters. Don’t we all know how Jerry Falwell would have been treated if he’d ever predicted that people would be trying to get Sesame Street’s Ernie and Bert to be shown as a married gay couple? As to the goal of getting children to accept gays, this would be something to work on if the gay rights agenda were to become bipartisan and broadly accepted by both liberals and conservatives . Right now a petition like this is jumping the gun – and certain to contribute to an anti-gay backlash.

And I was just starting to become more pro-gay in my emotions, if not my politics. I even started to think that maybe I could accept by home state adopting marriage equality (NY.) Since reading IGF and other gay websites, I’ve started to wonder how much of what I know about gay people is true, and how much may be a stereotype. Many conservatives are starting to lose their homophobia. This will happen more quickly if gays don’t unnecesarily push for too much too soon. Hope this doesn’t sound harsh.

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