5 Reasons Why Bert and Ernie Should Not Get Married

Internet People

By now, you’ve probably heard about the campaign to convince Sesame Workshop that iconic Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie get married. The idea, begun as a Change.org petition by Illinois activist Lair Scott, has sparked a great deal of debate, about both Bert and Ernie and the portrayal of LGBT characters in the media.

While there is definitely a legitimate topic for debate, the original idea is just wrong, and the reasons for that have nothing whatever to do with anyone’s views on the rights or societal acceptance of LGBT people. In handy list form, then, here are my top five reasons why having Bert and Ernie get married is a bad idea:

1. Bert and Ernie are children. Ernie, famously, takes baths with his rubber duckie, and often carries his duckie with him at other times, much to the detriment of his saxophone playing. Neither of them has a job. The games they play are all of the tag/hide-and seek variety. In short, there’s every indication they’re kids, and no indication they’re adults except that they seem to live with each other without parents. Which brings us to:

2. They’re not humans, so don’t have to follow the same rules as humans. This may come as a shock to some people, but Bert and Ernie are Muppets, not people. If they were meant to be humans, they wouldn’t have been made orange and yellow with heads the shapes of an American football and a traffic cone. Why is it that people don’t question the 8’2″ talking bird, the green monster who lives in a trash can that’s many times bigger on the inside than on the outside, or the frog that reports the news (and reportedly has also run a variety stage show), but they’ll question two Muppet boys who live together without parents?

3. They serve a specific educational purpose, which this radical a change would disrupt. I’m far from the first person to say it, but Bert and Ernie are the Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, respectively, of Sesame Street. Their bits on the show are generally intended to, via humor, demonstrate that people who are different in many ways can still be great friends. Having them “come out” and get married to each other would completely and irrevocably alter the situation, obscuring the original message in favor of the obvious new one.

4. The show has historically addressed social issues via its human characters. They’ve dealt with marriage, birth, adoption, and (famously) death — all through the show’s human characters. The one time they had planned to deal with a social issue using Muppet characters, it confused test audiences and they ended up scrapping the episode.

5. Having Bert and Ernie get married would focus attention on the wrong thing. If you want kids to understand that it’s perfectly normal for two people of the same sex to be in love and get married, it’s far better to treat it as, well, perfectly normal. Having two long-established characters suddenly change so radically would be very likely to teach kids that gay marriage is strange and disruptive. Far better would be to introduce a human gay married couple, and to not make a big deal about it.

Image © Sesame Workshop, used under Fair Use.

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