The New Yorker is going to run a piece about DOMA’s dismantling. You may have seen the soon-to-be-iconic cover “Bert and Ernie’s Moment of Joy” by Jack Hunter.
The Huffington Post article “New Yorker DOMA Cover Features Bert and Ernie, Is Amazing” claim that maybe it’s time for Bert and Ernie to be even closer in the Sesame Street universe and called the characters “one of the most famous gay cultures in pop culture.”
The Slate article “This is a Terrible Way to Commemorate a Major Civil Rights Victory” could not disagree more with the cover. June Thomas, the author, critiques the image because Bert and Ernie aren’t actually gay. They’re just best friends who live together and having Ernie lean into Bert doesn’t make their relationship more or less platonic.
Hopefully if you’re reading this you care about my opinion, because I’m about to give it.
I think Thomas overanalyzes the image and its implications. As a kid, I was never really into Bert and Ernie. I remember that Ernie had a very dear rubber ducky and that Bert was uptight. In fact, my most vivid memory of them is the Family Guy sketch where Bert is implied to be abusive.
So, I had to go watch some Bert and Ernie episodes on YouTube–and get lots of funny looks from my relatives while I did it. All it took was one episode called “Bert and Ernie’s ‘Gift of the Magi’” to convince me that the Slate article is built on sand and, for the most part, builds an issue out of nothing–it makes an issue of a non-issue.
If you haven’t seen that episode, or it’s been a while, the episode title explains it all. Bert and Ernie need to buy each other presents for Christmas. In order to get these presents, Bert and Ernie end up having to sell their most prized possessions. For Ernie, this means trading his beloved rubber ducky. Bert gives up his paper clip collection, which he’s been working on for years.