Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bert & Ernie

Old School Muppets!

I am an 80s baby.  And for a majority of my childhood, I watched Sesame Street religiously.  If I didn't already know a fairly well sized vocabularly, how to count, the ability do some complex math, and had more interest in currently popular people, I'd probably still watch it... and if being overseas didn't interfere.  You have the humans and the muppets, crazy world, but Jim Henson was a master.  

Eventually, Teh Sister became old enough to voice her television preferences which meant that we always had to watch Barney (UGH), in addition to Sesame Street, which she barely tolerated (meaning if I hadn't already established such a strong relationship to Sesame Street, Teh Mom probably would have made me change the channel to something Teh Sister liked, because thats how our house rolled.  Being the oldest child had no little value).  Big Bird just wasn't purple enough for her, I guess?  She might argue that she didn't dislike Sesame Street, but the truth is, in her world, Barney > Sesame Street.  She dropped a few coolness levels over that.

Hurh? (Google Images)
Fast forward to recently.  I was reading my Google Reader feed (God bless it and the person that introduced it to me and saved The Nuggets) and someone commented somewhere that maybe Bert and Ernie really weren't gay.  WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!?!  Gay?  Since when were Bert and Ernie gay?  They are non-sexual muppets, how the hell would the be gay?  Why would that even matter?  

My core was shaken.  Bert and Ernie were only my favorite characters on Sesame Street..  They were brothersnot gay.  For a quarter of a century, I have believed, in FULL faith, that Bert and Ernie were brothers.  I mean, why else would Bert tolerate Ernie?  Family does that, duh.  In the same way I tolerated Barney, and the 2nd Titanic VHS, then the 1st Titanic VHS, and Erin Brockavich, and a plethora of Disney movies (that I can pretty much repeat word for word).  And why, oh why, would Ernie ever tolerate Bert?  Family does that, duh.  In the same way Teh Sister tolerated it when I would say, "No, it has to be this way," then let out a long sigh as she would run to Teh Mom because she wasn't getting her way.  Siiiiigh.  

In my child-mind, people that lived together were family.  And in my adult-mind, I still see it the same.  When I lived with Teh BFF, we were like sisters.  We were like sisters before moving in together and even still now that I'm far, far away, and sisters are family.. ask Teh Sister who always got her way..

Need the Count here to make zombies, then we're set.
Maybe it was because I was young and naive that I had no figment of thought about Bert and Ernie being gay or even just roommates.  In my unquestioned, unwaivering, childhood oblivion, I was satisfied with the way I had constructed things in my mind.  But in that same light, I didn't completely understand the term girl-on-girl until at least halfway through the 7th grade, although I'd heard in 6th grade when people were talking about the gym teacher being a lesbian (not really sure on that, but she did have a crazy bleached blond mullet with a wave in the back, woah).  I thought it was a cool term for something I had no idea about, so I didn't question it as being a "bad" thing.  I understood that they were making fun of her for it, but middle schoolers are ruthless, and I didn't want to be involved, nor did I know what it meant, so I was even less inclined to participate.  I didn't really understand until at least high school when guys were calling each other "fags" (not to be confused with a cigarette in the UK) and the other would take offense to it, or that there was even an alternative to being heterosexual (or "normal" in my mind).

Never would I have associated or connected something so deeply rooted in my childhood, like Sesame Street, to projecting an agenda.  An entire Communication Media bachelor's later, I see that maybe I was blind, which is a fair argument for a child.  I realize now a lot of things in the media, especially towards children are subtle.  "Normal" relationships being a very prominent one.  

I can turn on the tv (in anywhere other than Arabia) and see 2 people of the same sex kissing, or even goin' at it (hello, Rome?  Spartacus?  porn?)  Pretty sure the first time Teh Mom saw Scotty and Kevin kiss on Brothers & Sisters her comment was, with full disdain dripping from her voice, "That. Is. Disgusting."  Yet, she didn't get up and walk away... that time.  I wanted to question if it would be just as disgusting if it was 2 women, and I'm sure she would have said yes, if for no other reason than principle alone. 

In reality though, the idea of 2 men kissing is more disgusting to us than 2 women kissing.  For 2 women, its sexy, hot, erotic, teasing.. no matter who you are, when you see 2 women kiss on screen, you're "supposed to think" that you should be one of them.  For 2 men, it usually looks (imo) awkward and maybe sometimes even clumsy, but rarely ever suave and sexy..  Never have I watched anything where 2 men kissed that I wanted to partake in.. unless they turned out to be straight, but then why would they be kissing?  Soooo complicated!  But in the end, what's the difference in who's doing the kissing?

Off my soapbox, about gays kissing on TV and more about Bert & Ernie not being gay, although who cares if they are?  Does the fact that they've been "roommates" for 30+ years make them any more gay than it makes Big Bird homeless for living in a nest (substitute a cardboard box for a better image) in an alley off the street?  Better yet, instead of Big Bird, how about Oscar the Grouch.. he lives in a trash can.  Thats like sleepin' in a dumpster in my book.  Its an imaginary world, where reality is left to the person constructing it, however they please (that I just wrote an entire blog about and loved every minute of it).  For me, as a child, that was as siblings.  

This is Bert & Ernie clip is definitely something that siblings do to each other....  You probably wouldn't be roommates or lovers for very long if your partner/partner in crime did this often....  Example: Teh Sister has some vivid memories of me locking her out of the house, but she really likes the one where she locked me out the best.

Bottom line: Do I think that Bert and Ernie are gay?  No, I still maintain they are brothers.  Some might argue that they don't look alike, but siblings are like that sometimes, and they are freakin' muppets, they don't have to look alike!  But just in case, Wikipedia says they are just roommates, a mirrored relationship that Jim Henson had while he was alive.  

And a tribute to my 2nd fav Sesame Street character, the Cookie Monster:  
If these lit up w/ blue lights, they would have
 been the the end all be all shoes!
<-- This Barney > this Barney -->

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