Bert and Ernie Come Out in the New Yorker5:52 pm - 06/28/2013
No, not even Muppets are spared in our culture war. Above is the cover of the new issue of The New Yorker.
“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter, the artist behind the cover. “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”
Then again, in response to an 2011 online petition calling for Bert and Ernie to tie the knot, the Sesame Workshop’s Facebook page offered this statement:
“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…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”
From nymag.com: Like all things, it has elicited strong and wildly varied reactions. BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post both call the cover "amazing." But June Thomas at Slate says it's "a terrible way to commemorate a major civil-rights victory for gay and lesbian couples," because Bert and Ernie are not actually gay.
"Ernest & Bertram" -- a 2002 short film by Peter Spears. Some people feel the New Yorker cover is based on this short.
Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TeNdsoC
Flavorwire's Tyler Coates contends that the magazine is "belittling the decades-long — hell, millennia-long — fight for equal rights by needlessly sexualizing a pair of puppets." Coates suggests that The New Yorker could have used a photo of an "actual gay and lesbian couple," perhaps even of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, the lesbian couple at the center of the DOMA case. Not only does The New Yorker not put photos of actual people on its covers, but we think this suggestion misses the point.
You could replace Bert and Ernie with a drawing of a famous real-life gay couple, or even an anonymous gay couple whose sexuality is communicated to the reader. But to have a closeted gay couple lends the image deeper meaning: In an intimate moment in the privacy of their home, away from the public eye, they feel heartened that society is finally coming around to accepting them for who they are.
Because of the inherent nature of closetedness, there aren't many instantly recognizable closeted gay couples out there. Bert and Ernie — as silly as it is to sexualize them — happen to be one of them. That, to us, is why they're on the cover, and why it works.
Source 1: http://www.humanevents.com/2013/06/28/b
WARNING: Do NOT read the comments in the first source.
Source 2: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/20