Modern Culture23 Aug 2009 09:26 pm
The widely disseminated urban legend that beloved Sesame Street Muppits Bert and Ernie are a gay couple, finds its roots in The Real Thing, a 1980 collection of humor essays by Kurt Andersen. In a parody of the inseparable duo, Anderson makes light of their relationship, stating that “Bert and Ernie conduct themselves in the same loving, discreet way that millions of gay men, women and hand puppets do. They do their jobs well and live a splendidly settled life together in an impeccably decorated cabinet.” By 1993, the urban legend had spread to the point that it was rumored that Bert and Ernie would actually get married during the Autumn tour of Sesame Street Live. Prompted by the avalanche of phone calls and mail that flooded the Children’s Television Workshop, Sesame Street drafted a prepared statement that denied that Bert and Ernie are gay.
Despite Sesame Street’s attempts at quelling the rumor, Pentecostal minister Joseph Chambers declared his intention to get Sesame Street banned on his radio show in 1994, stating,
“Bert and Ernie are two grown men sharing a house and a bedroom. They share clothes, eat and cook together and have blatantly effeminate characteristics. In one show Bert teaches Ernie how to sew. In another they tend plants together. If this isn’t meant to represent a homosexual union, I can’t imagine what it’s supposed to represent.”
Notably, Chambers is also the author of the ominously titled, Barney: The Purple Messiah, in which he denounces the saccharine dinosaur as a minion of Satan and his followers. Interestingly, he fails to mention Barney’s cardinal sin; his mysterious ability to captivate children while irritating adults to distraction. Instead, Chambers opted to focus his attentions on Barney’s darker side, stating, “Barney is much more than just a fun creature of kids’ imaginations. He is a politically correct teacher of everything on the liberal left’s agenda, from New Age evolution to radical ecology.” Chambers more recent targets include The Lion King, which he believes is aimed at “pawning witchcraft to the children of America.” Suffice it to say, Sesame Street is still on the air, and to the disappointment of many, Bert and Ernie still remain firmly hidden in the closet.
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