The cover of next week’s New Yorker shows Bert and Ernie cuddled up watching what seems to be a TV report about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decisions.
Initial reaction suggests that the cover will be just as controversial (if you consider dueling tweets a form of controversy) as the infamous 2008 New Yorker cover showing a radical Barack and Michelle Obama fist-bumping each other. Kathryn Jean Lopez, a writer on the National Review’s website, reproduces the cover under the heading: “Innocence. Lost.”
My first reaction to the National Review lament was: “Lighten up. It’s only a joke.” On reflection, though, it’s easy to see why the cover irked Lopez. It does reflect the view, anathema to social conservatives, that homosexuality is no big deal and that same-sex couples can be as wholesome and inoffensive as these lovable Muppets.
But are Bert and Ernie in fact gay? Not according to the Sesame Workshop, the producers of “ Sesame Street.”
In 2011, a petition was circulated urging “Sesame Street” to allow Bert and Ernie to get married. In response, the Sesame Workshop posted this somewhat humorless disclaimer on its Facebook page:
“Bert and Ernie are best friends. 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.”
Maybe not, but I suspect they are pretty happy about what the Supreme Court did.
Follow Michael McGough on Twitter @MichaelMcGough3