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Sesame Workshop Trying To Have It Both Ways(Bert/Ernie issue)

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by beaker, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    So, I've been realizing how duplicitous Sesame Workshop is. They continually release "OMG, Bert and Ernie are NOT representative of gays!" statements...

    Sesame Workshop has aggressively tried to shut down the bert/ernie gay thing, issuing endless statements since the 90's(some compiled here)

    But then what the heck is this?


    These were all prominently displayed with "Lady Gaygay" and "Gay pride" shirts at hot topic last year.

    2010, an "official tweet from Bert of Sesame Street"
    Yeah, haha...wink wink.

    Sorry Sesame, can't have it both ways. You can't cave into religious right wingers but then give wink and nods. Or maybe they can.

    But THIS statement bugs the crap out of me:

    "They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets,' says Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell. 'They don't exist below the waist.' "

    Yes, because Scooter, Howard Tubman, etc are totally suppose to be straight:)
    And Janice/Pepper, Kermit/Piggy, etc arent suppose to be straight couples?
    It's baffling to see this "puppets representing gay people? Why I never! that's crazy talk" reaction.
  2. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Yeah that logic doesn't really work. Obviously Kermit and Piggy are puppets and manage to have a romantic relationship. ;)

    Still, I don't think Bert and Ernie are a couple. Mainly because I don't like the assumption that two guys can't possibly be close, affectionate friends. It's macho nonsense.

    As far as the shirts, are they official Sesame Workshop merchandise?
  3. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I don't see how not existing below the waist would prevent someone from having a sexuality. Besides, they do exist below the waist. Bert existed below the waist in the "Doin' the Pigeon" number, Ernie existed below the waist in "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon", "The Insects in Your Neighborhood", and "The Best Friends Blues". Not to mention they both existed below the waist in The Street We Live On and various storybooks, merchandise, and full-body walkaround appearances (Sesame Street Live, Sesame Place, etc.).
    MJTaylor likes this.
  4. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I think they're just trying to cash in off a meme. I think Sega actually got Dr. Eggman to say "SnooPING AS usual, I see" in a game... he did it in the Archie comics

    I'm anxiously waiting for a T-Shirt... but chances are, I'd have to make one myself.

    Basically, this is a snide little aside to the whole "controversy" that evolved from drunk college guys making jokes about childhood favorites... all the way back when it wasn't such a labored, commercial thing. There's also a T-Shirt they only sold at Spencer that makes reference to the "Shaggy is a stoner" meme (it either said baked or something... I got the G-rated "slacker" version ONLY because it was cheaper).

    However, I also noticed how adult Sesame Street T-shirts have been lately. I cannot find the picture, but one is a shirt with Elmo with a mustache and the caption "This might tickle." We ALL know what that means. Here's another...

    Yeah... as subtle as the subtle sound of a kitchen dining set falling down a flight of stairs.

    Then there's the shirts that force the Pmip/Gangsta thing on them...

    Yeah... that's clearly NOT a Pimp hat.

    The most offensive shirt though, is this...


    Just for the reference to the most mind destroying fall of Western culture out there.

    Seems Sesame Workshop has a sense of humor when it comes to T-shirt designs. So, I guess the shirts are subversively shoving the meme back in the faces of those they have to disprove it to. And if that's the case... I LOVE IT!

    Not as much as the All your cookie are belong to us one, though.... I still have yet to actually see that one.
  5. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Lol, yeah exactly.

    Oh dear God, lol.
  6. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I have to admit that I'm guilty of buying some of these ghetto/bling-bling SST shirts myself... I don't care if they're official or not, I just like 'em... Cookie eating a cookie with his name in big, graffitti-style letters; Oscar wearing a big 'G' madalian around his neck; Count surrounding by a bunch of money with caption reading "Countin' My Stacks"; the gang minus Elmo with caption reading "I Was Raised On The Street", etc.
  7. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Well I do believe the performers when they say Bert and Ernie was conceived as a response to the Odd Couple paradigm. But the way they go out of their way to shoot down the rumors, when they know Bert and Ernie are a kind of adopted icon to many gay people is...I don't know...just odd. And then they(yep those are official) release all this Bert and Ernie rainbow merch with a wink and a nod. I just don't get it.

    I've come to realize though, Bert and Ernie...like The Count, are not kids. Maybe in some kid's books they are shown as kids, but I've realized after three decades of watching them they are definitely at least in their 20's.
  8. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    I admit, some of the official nostalgic kid's shirts go a bit too far. Like the new Ninja Turtles/April O'neil pizza one. That one is so far over the line. And the Elmo mustache one...whoah.

    The thing though tooth, Bert/Ernie=gay is not some drunken frat boy/family guy meme. It's an important and inspiring wishful thinking sort of thing for many people. I don't think the Bert and Ernie rainbow shirts are all all a spoof on the meme. I think they are being marketed to gay and lesbian teens and college kids, and I am more than happy about that.
  9. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I think Dr. Tooth's right, those kinds of shirts are more intended for older people as a kind of ironic wink.
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    The drunken frat boys are how these things start... then some of these drunken frat boys become writers, and then they shove jokes about it into shows. Then they become mainstream. Like, the Scooby-Doo movie was FULL of all the things people said in the early 90's about the characters... Shaggy and Scooby are stoners, Velma's a lesbian, Fred and Daphne run off in the middle of the episode and boink... even Johnny Bravo had a nod to that one (and referenced the fact that Shaggy is clearly stolen off of Jughead).

    The Ernie and Bert meme is an example of something that became incredibly mainstream. On the one hand, there's the positive aspect that the gay community can embrace these characters as their own, and celebrate the possibility that they are... but then there's the dark, seedy aspect of the religious hyper-right using it as fuel to say that the mainstream "liberal" media is using it to indoctrinate kids, then proceed to offer alternatives that do indeed indoctrinate kids.

    Now, while the underlining concept of Ernie and Bert is basically the old school comedy duo (like Laruel and Hardy, who shared beds in certain pictures and no one said anything about it, and Abbot and Costello), mixed with Jim's classic pairing of a round guy and a thin guy (also a fun loving guy and an uptight guy), there is the interpretation that people can walk away with. If used positively, as I said, I have no problem with it at all. Kinda think it's funny though I'm waiting for the gay community to embrace Mr. 2 Bon Clay and Ivankof from One Piece (seriously, if I were, I'd SOOOOO cosplay Invankof at conventions)...

    To me the problem lies in the fact that Ernie's a child and actually said he was six. Should we take that at face value, or say "that's just an aside", like Cookie Monster's name being Sid, Guy Smiley's name being Bernie Leaderkrantz or Scooter being part parrot?

    Still, the dark side of my mind almost wants to think Ernie and Bert are brothers, and something terrible happened leading them to being alone as kids, Ernie feverishly embracing childish things to mask a serious depression/ repress a terrible memory and Bert having to be his care taker.
  11. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Could be a good indie film!
  12. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Ernie has said he was six? Well there is absolutely nothing kidlike about Bert. to me it's kind of silly to keep certain characters developmentally stuck.

    I just am not a fan of retconning. Making Rosita's dad lose a leg fighting in Iraq?
    Gonzo is an "alien"? NOPE. Don't accept it. they mess too much with a good thing, like how there was rumors they were going to have a Sesame character "die" to deal with grief.

    It's fine if Bert and Ernie were never intended to reflect a bickering gay couple, but the way Sesame goes out of their way to claim otherwise I find kind of humorous.

    I DO strongly feel there needs to be a gay human character on Sesame Street, male or female or even a couple. I also don't like being talked down to by Sesame about how puppets are "non sexual"...that's total bullocks. Kermit and Piggy, Gonzo and Camilla, Janice and Floys...Pepe and Animal always chasing women. The notion that Muppets are asexual is a total lie.
  13. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    The problem is all these "fundamentalist" groups out there that say homosexuality is an "evil cult" that our children shouldn't be subjected to.

    Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but there IS like an unwritten rule in entertainment that says homosexuality is NOT a a family-friendly subject, I mean look at all these "childrens" or "family" shows that have had controversies over episodes that either mentioned out-loud that characters were gay (ala Postcards from Buster), or featured characters that were of subtle gay stereotypes (ala Cow and Chicken)... not only that, but I believe I've heard that gay figure skater kid (I forget his name, Johnny something, I think) has been banned from a lot of considerably family-friendly events because of his homosexuality.

    Yet, it's a double-edged sword ecause we have been able to have openly-gay people on the show as guests before, like the biggest example of all: Neil Patrick Harris as, of all things, a shoe fairy... but if there was a regular character who was gay like that, then people are going to complain, and Sesame Workshop would have to bow to pressure and remove the character, and all he/she has appeared in.

    I mean, that's just the reality of it.
  14. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    I think it's partly a case of people innocently just not thinking. I mean you have a question like that thrown at you and suddenly you start thinking about these things are puppets and it seems absurd to apply any human characteristics to them. Of course then you're reminded that it's been done a million times before (like with Kermit and Piggy) and you're like, "Oh yeah!"
  15. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Modern Family, which to me is a family friendly yet hilarious show, prominently features a gay couple and their suburban gay culture. Yet, there's not a hint of controversy around it. I think a decade ago, when you had a number of gay themed family shows pop up(like John Goodman in Norman Ohio) there was controversy, but now days people seem to accept gay personalities on tv without the over the top flamboyant slapstick.
  16. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    Well let me take that back...not only are some of the Muppets definitely not asexual, some are hyper sexual. I've seen Pepe say so many over the top(and sometimes, over the line) sexual or skirt chasing lines(like in the From the Balcony weekly series)
    Animal too in the real world would be slapped with so many sexual harassment lawsuits.

    Also, if as Sesame says, Muppets have nothing below the waist...how did Baby Bear, Natasha, Alice, etc come to be?

    At least Disney hasn't had to issue a press statement about a certain gofer

  17. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Lol, weeeellllll, he was perhaps a little too excited when introducing Elton John. ;)
  18. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Yeah, well they say Glee is a "family-friendly" show as well, and you got gay people galore on that show.

    Really, prime-time isn't family-time anymore like it was back in the 50s, 60s, and early-to-mid 70s; maybe shows like the aforementioned are "tamer" than others, but I'd argue about the family-friendly atmsphere of them, otherwise, why are they rated like "TV-14" and such?
  19. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    or a
    You know what I love about that show? One of the gay characters IS played by a gay actor, and the other isn't... the one that isn't is closer to the gay stereotype. Plus, the characters spent the first season trying hard NOT to be stereotypes, thinking everyone would be uptight about them, and it turns out, they're the uptight ones. I think a few episodes were about how they had to dial back their gayness to be accepted in Mommy and Me (so they wouldn't be the "gay couple"), yet there already WAS a gay couple there. I always hated crap like Will and Grace because the show was all about how gay the characters were, and it had very little substance outside of that. And the characters were either personality devoid Chandler from Friends wanna bes or Jar Jar Binks. Megan Mellaly's voice can peel paint!

    The Ernie is 6 thing is actually from the video 123 Count with Me. Of course, it's one of those nitpicky things we try to fit into canon, exactly my references to Cookie's real name (for the sake of a rhyme in a song).

    As for the Gonzo thing, didn't they retro-retcon the fact that MFS was just a movie?

    That's the thing about Muppets... any character for that matter... we piece together little weird trivia facts, little asides from conversations from performers and we accept it as fact if we want to. Does Marvin Suggs really live in a trailer and beat the Muppaphone because Frank said that once? Is his back story about Piggy ture too?

    Now there are things I DO NOT like... Gonzo being an alien (here's the thing... if something's said in a draft of a script, but not in the final version of the movie, does it count? Cuz if so, Gonzo was never an alien anyway), Elmo and Rosita's fathers fighting wars... the Scooter isn't a human thing (Scooters's as human as a green guy with an orange nose :D , a noseless woman with large collagen lips :flirt:, or a green guy with no eye balls :confused: ). And I REALLY don't accept the fact that Skeeter does/doesn't exist in the context of the Muppets. the whole "oh yeah, she exists, but she's not there and you never see her" bit. I demand to see a Roger/Amy version of Skeeter in a future project.

    So what are the defining traits of a characters and what are little gags and asides by the puppeteers that aren't official?
  20. CensoredAlso

    CensoredAlso Well-Known Member

    Yeah I had trouble seeing how that was a step forward for gay characters when all it seemed to do was encourage stereotypes.

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