Cross one potential culture-war issue off the books for campaign 2012: despite various online petitions‘ requests, Sesame Street has announced that longtime cohabitors Bert and Ernie “have no sexual orientation” and thus will not be getting married. This despite the fact that the fictional Sesame Street resembles a block in New York, where gay marriage was recently legalized, and that a lavish ceremony would provide a much needed boost to the many mom-and-pop businesses of the immediate neighborhood.
Although I’m all for gay role models on kids’ TV—sorry, I’ve been straight-married for years, and a gay couple on a kids’ show is no more “pushing an agenda” than a heterosexual one is—I’m glad to hear this. For several reasons:
* I may be mistaken, but I don’t offhand recall any romantic couples, gay or straight, among Sesame Street Muppets (as opposed to Muppet Show ones, but please correct me if I’m wrong), and frankly, Muppet relations of any orientation are simply not something I want to think about. (OK, the fact that Elmo has a mother carries certain implications, but I’m not ready to confront them.)
* Why on Earth would Bert want to marry Ernie? I’m sure I’m in the minority here, but Bert could do much better. Yeah, Ernie’s the happy-go-lucky guy everyone loves, but he can also be kind of thoughtless, selfish and deceptive. I can completely see someone putting up with that in a roommate–maybe Ernie’s reliable with the rent–but romantically, I just don’t see Ernie as Bert’s type. The Count, maybe? He’s very orderly, and he does have the sexy-vampire vibe going for him.
* More seriously, if Sesame Street wanted to give an example of gay marriage–the realities of public-TV funding being what they are, I’m sure it doesn’t, but if—it would make more sense to do so by introducing new characters conceived as gay from the get-go, rather than retrofitting a pair of characters intended as friends. (Maybe through the human characters, as the show has done with Maria and Luis.) Doing it by ratifying an old pop-culture in-joke doesn’t seem to be true to the characters.
Though I’m sure Peppermint Patty and Marcie are very happy together now that they’re grown up. What say you? Are you Team Bert or Team Ernie?