On the heels of the Supreme Court's landmark decision rulings that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits and clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, Sesame Street's romantic relationship between Bert and Ernie was graphically outed on The New Yorker's magazine cover. One week prior to the official date this issue will hit newsstands, the sexual orientation of the puppets which has long been the fodder for late-night TV hosts exploded on social media channels.
Graphic artist Jack Hunter was the illustrator behind this now famous image. “It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter who titled his work: “Moment of Joy.” Hunter, who originally submitted his image, unsolicited, to a Tumblr, continued, “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”
Positioned in front of a TV set which features the members of the United State Supreme Court, the suggestion is that these two Sesame Street puppets were indeed a couple, happily celebrating the recent SCOTUS rulings. After all, they've been living with each other for over 50 years!
Speculation that the two characters were gay was hinted at previously. Hinging on a tweet from the Sesame Street Twitter account, Bert queried one day about his hairstyle: "Ever notice how similar my hair is to Mr. T's? The only difference is mine is a little more 'mo,' a little less 'hawk.'
Going viral on June 10th, many translated the "Mo," in that tweet to be short-hand for "homosexual." While Sesame Street has denied these allegations and reminds the public that these puppets should remain within the context of an entertainment program for children -- the realm of social media thinks otherwise.
Many of the subsequent tweets supporting the possibility of a gay union between the puppets were similar to Carl Quintanilla's:
Others, like Marilyn P. Sushi felt that too much was being read into this issue, and that Bert and Ernie might just roommates.
The online magazine Slate also opposed the gay innuendo, possibly because of all the press The New Yorker is receiving. In June Thomas' editorial, she writes, " it’s a terrible way to commemorate a major civil-rights victory for gay and lesbian couples."
When a petition was circulated in 2011 urging the pair to marry, Sesame Street Workshop posted a statement on their Facebook page insisting that the characters were just "BFFs."
Nonetheless, five hours after the "New Yorker" story broke online, ABC News had measured more than 12,000 tweets flooding the microblogging site, trending around magazine's cover. The only other time a Sesame Street character received this much social media attention was when Big Bird was associated with presidential contender Mitt Romney's comments about cutting federal funding for Sesame Street back in 2012.
Surprisingly, the Facebook page, "Bert and Ernie Get Married,' with over 7300 LIKEs (as of this posting) has not yet posted an updated status about this issue? Also a Twitter user who goes by the handle @darth posted another potential cover image on his Twitpic page that suggested another famous fictional couple who've been around longer than Bert and Ernie. His submission was an illustration of two well known comic book heroes who have been suspected of a homosexual relationship for even more than fifty years. Perhaps, The New Yorker might think about circulating both covers? I can sense the wheels of the twittersphere churning already!
Batman & Robin?