For the past few weeks, the topic on the mind of everyone with an opinion and an Internet connection has been whether or not cohabitating, lifelong platonic and ostensibly straight puppet pals Bert and Ernie should get married.
Well, today, "Sesame Street" surprisingly entered the fray and provided a definitive answer to the calls for the duo's outing: it doesn't matter whether they should or not, they ain't gonna.
Guess this message was not brought to us by the letters "L," "G," "B" and "T."
The well-intentioned, if slightly misguided, campaign to get the bathtub bros united in holy matrimony sprang from an online petition and Facebook page. Backers sought to marry off the fabric friends, arguing that such an official pairing would be a boon to gay rights, send a progressive message that would be hard to argue with (though that hasn't stopped some people from trying) and teach impressionable young viewers about tolerance and equality.
Important lessons, to be sure. But ones that the "Sesame Street" Workshop says they're already teaching — all without a forced sexualization of the long-running characters.
"Bert and Ernie are best friends," the Workshop said in a statement today. "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."
Uh, guess we'll just ignore Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy's decades of simmering, flirtatious sexual tension, then, shall we?
In any case, the original petition, which received nearly 5,400 signatures on its initial posting and another 2,600 on its Facebook page, was launched this month with the best of intentions.
"In this horrific age of LGBT kids taking their own lives, they need to know that they ARE BEAUTIFUL and their lives are worth living. Aside from those that are committing suicide, the bullies that facilitate these tragedies need to learn that homophobia is NOT okay. They need to know that acceptance of their fellow human beings would indeed plant a seed of peace that will reverberate throughout the world.
"We are not asking that 'Sesame Street' do anything crude or disrespectful by allowing Bert &Ernie to marry. It can be done in a tasteful way. Let us teach tolerance of those that are different. Let 'Sesame Street' and PBS Kids be a big part in saving many worthy lives."
In other words, sure, it may be the most wink-wink, nudge-nudge on-screen partnership in TV history, but the rampant speculation about the inner workings of Bert and Ernie's relationship is going to have to remain just that.
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