Snuggling Bert & Ernie Magazine Cover Is Totally Inappropriate

Rant 38

new yorkerAs expected, with the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) came many forms of celebrating the landmark decision. There have been parades through the streets, parties on rooftops. Not to mention, Brad and Angelina just might finally tie the knot now. But no show of support has been as shocking as The New Yorker's new cover. It features a drawing of Bert and Ernie snuggled up together on a couch watching the Supreme Court justices on TV.

I see why they opted for this visual. Whether Bert and Ernie are gay has been a long-running pop culture debate. Still, that doesn't make this an appropriate choice for the magazine to make.

Beloved children's characters should not be sexualized. I don't say this because homosexuality is immoral or wrong in some way. It's not. People should be free to love who they love. Marry who they want to marry. But kid icons from Sesame Street and other programs should not factor into this issue. I think many parents would be just as displeased if Diego was hugged up with Jake (of Never Land Pirates fame). And, again, this is not a moral issue. Kids should be taught there is nothing wrong with being gay. In fact, many of the kids watching these shows already have a playdate pal with two mommies or two daddies.

The reason it's problematic? These figures were created for kids, not adults. And I don't think we should introduce the concept of sexuality -- hetero, homo, or otherwise -- with children's characters. That is not how they view them when they are watching the show. Sex or romantic relationships do not come into play on Nick Jr., Disney Jr., or PBS Kids.

And I don't buy the argument that The New Yorker is for grownups and kids won't see it. Please. Anyone with a child knows they can spot a cartoon, puppet, or anything else remotely fun and playful a mile away. Especially those characters they are familiar with. But any interaction with these characters shouldn't be sexual in nature.

It's wonderful that our children are going to grow up with a new, more inclusive definition of what it means to be a family. It shows that our society has come a long way and we should not hide that from children. But there are more appropriate ways to do that than making Bert and Ernie gay.

What do you think of The New Yorker cover?


Image via The New Yorker

scandal, marriage equality


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amazz... amazzonia

 Totally agree,if they put any kind of sexualjzation in the show I will stop putting it on for My dd as much as I love it, a 3 year old shouldn't even know what sex is!

nonmember avatar HeatherJ

Wow, could you have seriously overreacted any more? They're hugging on the couch, not exchanging blowjobs. Any kids who see that cover are not going to see Burt and Ernie hugging and have some revaluation of "OMG the Sesame Street characters are both guys and they're hugging, that's weird. Mommy what's sex?"

They're just gonna see two people hugging.

nonmember avatar Zuri

Most little kids won't even understand what "gay" is, so that won't be what they think of when they see Bert and Ernie snuggling on a couch together. Kids have a way of making inappropriate things seem appropriate in their little minds. I can't tell you how many sex-related songs made me think about dancing on stage or going to the water park when I was a little girl. I only found out what gay meant, like, three years ago. Children find ways to make things fit their version of reality- in fact, I still catch myself doing that sometimes (even when I know the truth). I don't think any child who's still young enough to be watching Sesame Street is going to see Bert and Ernie cuddling and think "gay". If they do, there's a bigger problem... like what is a 5 year old being exposed to so that they would even know the meaning of "gay".

Chana... Chanandler.Bong

I doubt many preschoolers are reading "The New Yorker" anyway.  And even if they did see the picture, I doubt they would think about sex from the picture.  In fact, have you even watched Sesame Street?  Half the time anyone gets together to sing a song, they put their arms around each other.  Elmo kisses everyone he comes in contact with.  Bert and Ernie share a bathtub.  And NONE of the examples I've just provided are considered "the sexualization of beloved TV characters."  You're overreacting.  This is much ado about nothing.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

Have you watched kids TV? Like ever? There are couples in every show, Sesame Street included. Married couples, sometimes older siblings with girlfriends or boyfriends. It's not like they're having sex on screen but they're clearly couples. Any kid who thinks about it will know Bert and Ernie are a couple, I know mine asked if they were boyfriends when he was four. Not a big deal at all, I said they live together and seem to love each other so they probably are a couple.

BeccaLS BeccaLS

How exactly is that sexual? I snuggle up with my friends like that sometimes, that doesn't mean our relationships are anything other than platonic.

whyso... whysosilly

you must be kidding. there are many couples who are beloved children's characters, but because they are straight couples they do not get scrutiny (hello--micky and minnie mouse, popeye and olive oyl, kermit and miss piggy...the list goes on and on) i know you prefaced your article by saying your judgement isn't because this is a homosexual coupling, but it would appear that is exactly what is bothering you!

bella... bellacazzate

Ugh, you're totally right. And they're different colors, too! A yellow and orange person together AND they might be gay (they sleep in the same bed and bathe together!111!!!1). Totally unacceptable. The next thing you know my kid is going to want to marry his bath duck... and the Supreme Court will allow it! This country is just flushing itself down the can... and it ain't full of holy water!


Straw men abound. 

keelh... keelhaulrose

The only ones sexualizing this are those who see this and see anything more than Bert and Ernie holding each other and watching the news. It's not like they're naked in bed together, they're sitting on the couch cuddling. How many of us do that with our children every day?

lovem... lovemyson1224

I agree with this post actually.

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