Wednesday, September 19, 2018

How Stupid Does It Have To Get? Arguing About Whether Two Muppets Are Or Are Not Gay?

A former writer for Sesame Street has apparently decided to get some attention for himself by whipping up an argument over whether or not two imaginary characters he didn't invent but did, apparently, write for, are gay.

New life was breathed into a perennial debate this week, when a former Sesame Street writer revealed that not only did he consider beloved characters Bert and Ernie to be a gay couple, but he used his own relationship as creative inspiration.

On Sunday, Queerty published an interview with Mark Saltzman, who worked on the show in the 1980s and 90s, asking him if he thought of Bert and Ernie as a gay couple.

"I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert & Ernie, they were," Saltzman said. "So I don't think I'd know how else to write them, but as a loving couple."

Saltzman was in a longterm relationship with another man when he joined the show. "That's what I had in my life, a Bert & Ernie relationship. How could it not permeate?"

And what could a pointless, whipped-up argument of this sort be without the other side joining in?  That there was ever any "debate" about that to have new life breathed into it is a symptom of how deeply immature and stupid the media has made us or has certainly not educated us out of being.

The organization behind Sesame Street quickly stepped in, reiterating its longtime stance: Bert and Ernie are just friends.

"As we have always said, Bert and Ernie are best friends," Sesame Workshop said. "They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics (as most Sesame Street Muppets™ do), they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

As both a life-long gay man and as a life-long friend of men who I have not had sexual relationships with, the most offensive thing was the term "just friends" as if that relationship,  friends,  wasn't important.

This is something even dumber than the fury that arose when J. K. Rowling revealed that Albus Dumbledore was gay and people were angry and even denied the author, the sole inventor of Dumbledore was right about that.  Saltzman didn't invent the characters, the were already well established by the time he started writing for the show.   One of those who invented them says he's wrong.

Frank Oz, who is credited with creating Bert in 1969, as well as originally performing as the character, tweeted Tuesday, "It seems Mr. Mark Saltzman was asked if Bert & Ernie are gay. It's fine that he feels they are. They're not, of course."

In a rational world, that would be the end of it.  Fictional characters are defined by their inventors.

I saw them when my nieces and nephews used to watch the show while I was taking care of them and thought they were a puppet version of a vaudeville duo act,  Bert was the straight man, Ernie was the one who supplied the laugh lines. Their apartment was the stage set.   I haven't seen the characters since sometime before the death of the great Jim Henson so I have no idea what they are like now. I always regarded him as being the central genius to most of the Muppet troupe, though others like Frank Oz were certainly a big part of that.   I don't know, I might think it's at least as good though I doubt it would have gotten better.

I have read some pretty idiotic anger from lefties on some of the stupider lefty blogs and Twitter accounts in regard to the Children's Television Workshop saying they weren't gay.   That would, of course, have been more than matched by fury on the right if that denial hadn't been made.  That any adults in the United States or elsewhere could be spending any time on this is the only interesting thing about it.  The irrationality of adults pretending these imaginary charters are real and instilling in them their own personalities and desires, when they aren't even hired-on writers or the inventors of them, shows how potent and loony fiction can get.   How prone so many people are to that level of stupidity even as adults.  I know, I deal with that regularly from my trolls.  The arrogant play-left is as prone to it as the stupidest part of the right.


  1. Of course, as everybody knows, Bert and Ernie ARE in fact atheists.

    1. Just fuck off and die, Simps. Or worse than death for you, I'm not posting anymore of your comments until it amuses me to.

  2. I've thought about weighing in on this from one side, and then the other, and then I thought: "Why does anyone care that much about puppets? How infantilized and self- centered are we?"

    In the end I still agree with Frank Rich (although this is choosing sides), who noted when Jerry Falwell brought this up the first time: they're puppets, they don't have sex!

    I mean really, how much do we have to obsess on who does what with whom?

    Ah, well, so much for not weighing in.....

    1. I loved the photo essay that the UCC did of welcoming Sponge Bob when someone made an issue of that. I remember I posted a jingle on Digby's blog. I even remember it.

      Gay or cellulose or straight,
      UCC is going great.