Bert and Ernie the stars of the childhood hit “Sesame Street” have been the subjects of controversy this past week, over their perceived sexual identity. A former writer of the show and the creator have shared their battling ideas of the character, receiving backlash from all sides on the internet, however, this debate is nothing new.
Debuting in 1969 on the Sesame Street pilot, the pair was adopted as gay icons much to the chagrin of the Children’s Television Workshop. The head of the workshop, Gary Knell, made a statement in 1994 clarifying, “They are not gay, they are not straight, they are puppets. They don’t exist below the waist.” Despite his protests pop culture has continued to promote the two as much more than friends, with references appearing on popular T.V shows and even the LGTBQ community making costumed appearances at Gay Pride events.
Much to the delight of some, former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman revealed in an exclusive to an LGTBQ magazine that Bert and Ernie were, in fact, gay, “I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were [gay],” he said. “I didn’t have any other way to contextualize them. The other thing was, more than one person referred to Arnie & I as ‘Bert and Ernie.’”
Not everyone appreciated the statement and Sesame Street creator, Frank Oz responded on Twitter denouncing the claim. Well if we know anything about the internet it is that you can’t please everyone. Much like with Saltzman’s statement, Oz received a wave of criticism.
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