Fellow Travelers

Saturday, June 27, 2015

On the sexuality of Bert and Ernie

On the sexuality of Bert and Ernie.

After the Supreme Court decision yesterday, a meme was produced saying Bert's out of excuses now. The reaction to this on imgur was mostly jocular, except with the usual complaints that you can't assign sexuality to the Sesame Street-specific Muppets.

Well, that's not quite true though. Now, *most* of the Muppets on SS represent children, so they really aren't going to have any developed sexuality. Elmo, Abby Cadabby, Prairie Dawn, and so on. But the adult Muppets (adult in maturity, not like XXX Adult) are different.

Kermit the Frog is the most obvious example. Crossing between Sesame Street and the regular Muppets, less so now than in the past, Kermit is distinctly heterosexual. In A Muppet Christmas Carol, he is shown married to Miss Piggy and they have children. But I don't know that he's ever shown with a spouse on Sesame Street, so it could be argued that he doesn't count.

However, he's far from the only example. The Bear Family, based off of the Bears from Goldilocks, features Curly Bear (an older sister), Mama Bear, Papa Bear, and Baby Bear who is the focus of their appearances, given the audience of Sesame Street. Clearly a depiction of both Muppet sexuality and its products.

Probably the best example is the highly recognizable Count von Count. He's had a string of girlfriends; the Countess in season 8, Countess Dahling von Dahling in season 12, and Countess von Backwards in season 28. They are females, vampires, and romantic interests for the Count.

But what about Bert and Ernie themselves? Do they show any signs of adulthood and sexuality? Well, they live alone, with each other and not with any parents. Additionally, Bert has been shown attracted to women. In season 1 he serenaded Connie Stevens. The (frankly disturbing and terrifying) song "I want to hold your ear" was performed by Bert and released on numerous albums, none of them more recently than the eighties, and it was a song from Bert to his theoretical then-girlfriend. So Bert is established as having sexuality.

From that, and given the long nature of their relationship together, it's not a huge leap to assume that they are a couple. Bert may be bisexual or may have evolved from straight to gay, Ernie seems like he'd be into whoever can stand him.

Now, of course on the show you're not going to see sexual behavior between them. It's a children's show. You didn't see Mama and Papa Bear making Curly Bear or Baby Bear. You didn't see Count von Count taking Countess von Backwards up to the attic with a blood bag drifter they picked up at the bus station and having weird kinky True Blood sex. You're not gonna see Bert bending Ernie over the bathtub. And that's fine.

I think it's much healthier for kids to see hey, here's two guys, two normal guys, just living together. Nobody mentions it, everybody just accepts it as normal. They're not marching in a Pride Parade, they're not going full camp with cock hammocks and feather boas, they're just normal people living their lives.

(Other examples include Snuffie's parents who divorced, and Elmo's parents)

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