Slurpy Studios Animation Studio, London

Bert and Ernie To Marry?

Well, no. They’re not getting married, despite a petition from thousands of facebook users with far too much time on their hands.

The organisers of the petition asked producers PBS to allow the pair (who have shared a bedroom but not a bed for the past 20 years) to allow their illicit passion to be allowed out of the closet at last. “If done tastefully, this would greatly help put an end to the bullying and suicides of LGBT youth.”

And I for one totally see their point. Sesame Street was created by a psychologist to teach kids through entertainment about life and about tolerance and acceptance. Intolerence is born out of fear; fear is born out of ignorance and ignorance is born out of kids being taught by close minded adults who are passing on their own world view. There are so few positive representations of gay couple in the media, and especially in the media that is targeted towards young kids.

But of course, Sesame Street have no intention of sounding out the wedding bells – they’d be taken off air pretty much all over the world without a doubt. The show issued a statement saying that “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.” Which, while undoubtedly disappointing for the gay community looking for a champion, hardly comes as a surprise.

What I love most about this story though, is the amount that people have invested, both emotionally and psychologically in the puppet characters. The petitioners see Bert and Ernie as closet homosexuals, and imbibe them with all the frustrations and hang ups that are associated. The makers of the show see the two characters as best friends and resent the attempt to sexualise them, because it contradicts their views of these two personalities. But its so easy to forget that these are puppets – at the end of the day, when the puppeteer removes his arm, both Bert and his best bud/secret lover sag to the floor, a crumpled pile of cloth and googly eyes. The amount that people anthropomophize the two characters is a true tribute to the puppeteers skills and the power of the human mind to emphasise.

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Posted in Animation News, Character Animation, Social Networking | Tagged , | Posted by Katie Steed

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