Hey, New Yorker! Why did you have to go and RUIN FREEDOM for LGBT America today? Of course, we already know, thanks to K-Lo and New Republic, that your Bert-n-Ernie cover has destroyed childhood forever, but in the interests of equal time whining, how about the important cultural perspective of scolds on the left, hmmm? For instance, how about overinflated ego zeppelin Tyler Coates, who considers the cover “infantilizing and offensive”? Or Slate’s June Thomas, who says it’s a “Terrible Way to Commemorate a Major Civil Rights Victory”? These serious objections to frivolity must be given their due, because god knows, celebrating should be solemn business that does not stoop to pop-culture tomfoolery!
June Thomas acknowledges that the cover is “a cute image” but argues that it is nonetheless terrible, because Numero Uno, Bert and Ernie are not lovers, according to multiple official memos from
Children’s Television Workshop Sesame Workshop,* which emphasize that as puppets, they do not have any sexual orientation at all, come ON, people. And Numero Two-o, these japes about Bert & Ernie being gay simply reinforce harmful stereotypes!
You see, straight America, there’s a difference between same-sex friends and gay lovers. Does America contain households in which lovers pass themselves off as best pals? No doubt. And as prejudice against gays and lesbians fades, more of these ambiguously gay couples will declare themselves. But that doesn’t mean that every pair of co-habiting friends is madly making out on a nightly basis.
You just stop making all those assumptions, New Yorker, because you are hurting people. Somehow.
Tyler Coates does not care for this terrible image either, because all it is doing is “belittling the decades-long — hell, millennia-long — fight for equal rights by needlessly sexualizing a pair of puppets.”
You see, even joking about Bert and Ernie as lovers “is a childish statement that says more about the sexually obsessed and slightly homophobic tendencies of our culture” because, ultimately, it’s based in “some borderline schoolyard obsession with the idea of two dicks touching each other?” Ultimately, the New Yorker cover is a form of bullying:
Because here’s the thing: there’s nothing particularly fun about being victimized and marginalized not just by the mainstream community but also within the community to which one belongs. There’s also nothing breezy about having one’s emotions manipulated or infantilized by a national publication whose primary goal is to sell copies of a magazine.
Oh Christ we are having grad school flashbacks even though Coates didn’t actually say “commodification!” He sounds like a fun person who we would like to share a long car trip with.
Instead of Bert and Ernie, asks Coates, why couldn’t the New Yorker use a photo of the actual couple whose case led to the end of DOMA (other than the fact that the New Yorker doesn’t use photos on its cover, but that is not the point)? Or some real gay icons who have really accomplished something? Why are you people having fun? Stop that right now! And get off that float and put those balloons away, too! Something has to be done about all this damned gaiety!
*Teensy correction: It’s been “Sesame Workshop” since 2000.